Neural substrates of vocalization feedback monitoring in primate auditory cortex.
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 sounds. 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 generatedauditory inputs and in detecting errors in our vocal production. Previous work in humans and other animals 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.
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