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Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor command and creating a prediction that is used to cancel out the resulting sensory feedback. Currently, there are no published accounts of the perception of tactile signals for motor tasks and contexts related to the lips during both speech planning and production. In this study, we measured the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech planning using light electrical stimulation below the lower lip by comparing perception during mixed speaking and silent reading conditions. Participants were asked to judge whether a constant near-threshold electrical stimulation (subject-specific intensity, 85% detected at rest) was present during different time points relative to an initial visual cue. In the speaking condition, participants overtly produced target words shown on a computer monitor. In the reading condition, participants read the same target words silently to themselves without any movement or sound. We found that detection of the stimulus was attenuated during speaking conditions while remaining at a constant level close to the perceptual threshold throughout the silent reading condition. Perceptual modulation was most intense during speech production and showed some attenuation just prior to speech production during the planning period of speech. This demonstrates that there is a significant decrease in the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech production as well as milliseconds before speech is even produced which has implications for speech disorders such as stuttering and schizophrenia with pronounced deficits in the somatosensory system.
Cochlear implant (CI) successfully restores hearing sensation to profoundly deaf patients, but its
performance is limited by poor spectral resolution. Acoustic CI simulation has been widely used
in normal-hearing (NH) listeners to study the effect of spectral resolution on speech perception,
while avoiding patient-related confounds. It is unclear how speech production may change with
the degree of spectral degradation of auditory feedback as experience by CI users. In this study,
a real-time sinewave CI simulation was developed to provide NH subjects with auditory
feedback of different spectral resolution (1, 2, 4, and 8 channels). NH subjects were asked to
produce and identify vowels, as well as recognize sentences while listening to the real-time CI
simulation. The results showed that sentence recognition scores with the real-time CI simulation
improved with more channels, similar to those with the traditional off-line CI simulation.
Perception of a vowel continuum “HEAD”- “HAD” was near chance with 1, 2, and 4 channels,
and greatly improved with 8 channels and full spectrum. The spectral resolution of auditory
feedback did not significantly affect any acoustic feature of vowel production (e.g., vowel space
area, mean amplitude, mean and variability of fundamental and formant frequencies). There
was no correlation between vowel production and perception. The lack of effect of auditory
feedback spectral resolution on vowel production was likely due to the limited exposure of NH
subjects to CI simulation and the limited frequency ranges covered by the sinewave carriers of
CI simulation. Future studies should investigate the effects of various CI processing parameters
on speech production using a noise-band CI simulation.