The effect of superior auditory skills on vocal accuracy

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Abstract

The relationship between auditory perception and vocal production has been typically investigated by evaluating the effect of either altered or degraded auditory feedback on speech production in either normal hearing or hearing-impaired individuals. Our goal in the present study was to examine this relationship in individuals with superior auditory abilities. Thirteen professional musicians and thirteen nonmusicians, with no vocal or singing training, participated in this study. For vocal production accuracy, subjects were presented with three tones. They were asked to reproduce the pitch using the vowel/a/. This procedure was repeated three times. The fundamental frequency of each production was measured using an autocorrelation pitch detection algorithm designed for this study. The musicians' superior auditory abilities (compared to the nonmusicians) were established in a frequency discrimination task reported elsewhere. Results indicate that (a) musicians had better vocal production accuracy than nonmusicians (production errors of 1/2 a semitone compared to 1.3 semitones, respectively); (b) frequency discrimination thresholds explain 43% of the variance of the production data, and (c) all subjects with superior frequency discrimination thresholds showed accurate vocal production; the reverse relationship, however, does not hold true. In this study we provide empirical evidence to the importance of auditory feedback on vocal production in listeners with superior auditory skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1102-1108
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume113
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2003

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