An Adapting Auditory-motor Feedback Loop Can Contribute to Generating Vocal Repetition

PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Oct 8;11(10):e1004471. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004471. eCollection 2015 Oct.


Consecutive repetition of actions is common in behavioral sequences. Although integration of sensory feedback with internal motor programs is important for sequence generation, if and how feedback contributes to repetitive actions is poorly understood. Here we study how auditory feedback contributes to generating repetitive syllable sequences in songbirds. We propose that auditory signals provide positive feedback to ongoing motor commands, but this influence decays as feedback weakens from response adaptation during syllable repetitions. Computational models show that this mechanism explains repeat distributions observed in Bengalese finch song. We experimentally confirmed two predictions of this mechanism in Bengalese finches: removal of auditory feedback by deafening reduces syllable repetitions; and neural responses to auditory playback of repeated syllable sequences gradually adapt in sensory-motor nucleus HVC. Together, our results implicate a positive auditory-feedback loop with adaptation in generating repetitive vocalizations, and suggest sensory adaptation is important for feedback control of motor sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*