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Bioacoustic paper in Nature

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Subject: Bioacoustic paper in Nature
From: Jianqiang XIAO <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 02:54:13 +0800

Nature 453 1102-1106 (19 June 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06910

Neural substrates of vocalization feedback monitoring in primate auditory cortex

Steven J. Eliades1 & Xiaoqin Wang1

1. Laboratory of Auditory Neurophysiology, Department of Biomedical 
Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 
21205, USA

Correspondence to: Steven J. Eliades1Xiaoqin Wang1 Correspondence and requests 
for materials should be addressed to S.J.E. (Email:  or X.W. 


Vocal communication involves both speaking and hearing, often taking place 
concurrently. Vocal production, including human speech and animal vocalization, 
poses a number of unique challenges for the auditory system. It is important 
for the auditory system to monitor external sounds continuously from the 
acoustic environment during speaking despite the potential for sensory masking 
by self-generated sounds1. It is also essential for the auditory system to 
monitor feedback of one's own voice. This self-monitoring may play a part in 
distinguishing between self-generated or externally generated2, 3auditory 
inputs and in detecting errors in our vocal production4. Previous work in 
humans5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and other animals11, 12, 13 has demonstrated that the 
auditory cortex is largely suppressed during speaking or vocalizing. Despite 
the importance of self-monitoring, the underlying neural mechanisms in the 
mammalian brain, in particular the role of vocalization-induced suppression!

 , remain virtually unknown. Here we show that neurons in the auditory cortex 
of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) are sensitive to auditory feedback 
during vocal production, and that changes in the feedback alter the coding 
properties of these neurons. Furthermore, we found that the previously 
described cortical suppression during vocalization actually increased the 
sensitivity of these neurons to vocal feedback. This heightened sensitivity to 
vocal feedback suggests that these neurons may have an important role in 
auditory self-monitoring.

Editor's Summary

19 June 2008
Listen to yourself: Vocalization feedback monitoring

When we talk, we need to be able to both hear external stimuli, and keep track 
of our own voice. In several species, including humans, auditory neurons are 
suppressed during vocalization, but the function of this was unclear. New work 
suggests that the 'suppressed' neurons are actually enhanced in their 
sensitivity to self-generated sounds. Steven Eliades and Xiaoqin Wang found 
that in freely behaving marmosets, neurons in the primary auditory cortex are 
more sensitive to perturbations in vocal feedback despite the general 
suppression. This suggests a possible mechanism for active monitoring of subtle 
changes of your own voice. Deficits in such feedback monitoring have been 
suggested as a cause for human speech disorders such as stuttering.



XIAO, Jianqiang, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Psychology Department
Rutgers University
152 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
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