Sensorimotor adaptation of speech I: Compensation and adaptation

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2002 Apr;45(2):295-310. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2002/023).


When motor actions (e.g., reaching with your hand) adapt to altered sensory feedback (e.g., viewing a shifted image of your hand through a prism), the phenomenon is called sensorimotor adaptation (SA). In the study reported here, SA was observed in speech. In two 2-hour experiments (adaptation and control), participants whispered a variety of CVC words. For those words containing the vowel /E/, participants heard auditory feedback of their whispering. A DSP-based vocoder processed the participants' auditory feedback in real time, allowing the formant frequencies of participants' auditory speech feedback to be shifted. In the adaptation experiment, formants were shifted along one edge of the vowel triangle. For half the participants, formants were shifted so participants heard /a/ when they produced /E/; for the other half, the shift made participants hear /i/ when they produced /E/. During the adaptation experiment, participants altered their production of /E/ to compensate for the altered feedback, and these production changes were retained when participants whispered with auditory feedback blocked by masking noise. In a control experiment, in which the formants were not shifted, participants' production changes were small and inconsistent. Participants exhibited a range of adaptations in response to the altered feedback, with some participants adapting almost completely, and other participants showing very little or no adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Child
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Phonetics
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Speech Production Measurement