Successful auditory motor adaptation requires task-relevant auditory errors

Ayoub Daliri, Jonathan Dittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


When we produce speech movements, we also predict the auditory consequences of the movements. We use discrepancies between our predictions and incoming auditory information to modify our future movements (adapt). Although auditory errors are crucial for speech motor learning, not all perceived auditory errors are consequences of our own actions. Therefore, the brain needs to evaluate the relevance of perceived auditory errors. In this study, we examined error assessment processes involved in auditory motor adaptation by systematically manipulating the correspondence between speech motor outputs and their auditory consequences during speaking. Participants (n = 30) produced speech while they received perturbed auditory feedback (e.g., produced “head” but heard a word that sounded like “had”). In one condition, auditory errors were related to participants’ productions (task-relevant errors). In another condition, auditory errors were defined by the experimenter and had no correspondence with partic-ipants’ speech output (task-irrelevant errors). We found that the extent of adaptation and error sensitivity (derived from a state-space model) were greater in the condition with task-relevant auditory errors compared with those in the condition with task-irrelevant auditory errors. Additionally, participants with smaller perceptual targets (derived from a categorical perception task) adapted more to auditory perturbations, and participants with larger perceptual targets adapted less. Similarly, participants with smaller perceptual targets were more sensitive to errors in the condition with task-relevant auditory errors. Together, our results highlight the intricate mechanisms, involving both perception and production systems, that the brain uses to opti-mally integrate auditory errors for successful speech motor learning. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Feedback monitoring is essential for accurate speech production. By providing empirical results and a computational framework, we show that 1) the brain evaluates relevance of auditory errors and responds more to relevant errors, and 2) smaller perceptual targets are associated with more sensitivity to errors and more auditory motor adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-562
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Adaptation
  • Auditory feedback
  • Speech
  • Speech motor learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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