Intermittent theta burst stimulation over right somatosensory larynx cortex enhances vocal pitch-regulation in nonsingers

Sebastian Finkel, Ralf Veit, Martin Lotze, Anders Friberg, Peter Vuust, Surjo Soekadar, Niels Birbaumer, Boris Kleber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

While the significance of auditory cortical regions for the development and maintenance of speech motor coordination is well established, the contribution of somatosensory brain areas to learned vocalizations such as singing is less well understood. To address these mechanisms, we applied intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS), a facilitatory repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) protocol, over right somatosensory larynx cortex (S1) and a nonvocal dorsal S1 control area in participants without singing experience. A pitch-matching singing task was performed before and after iTBS to assess corresponding effects on vocal pitch regulation. When participants could monitor auditory feedback from their own voice during singing (Experiment I), no difference in pitch-matching performance was found between iTBS sessions. However, when auditory feedback was masked with noise (Experiment II), only larynx-S1 iTBS enhanced pitch accuracy (50–250 ms after sound onset) and pitch stability (>250 ms after sound onset until the end). Results indicate that somatosensory feedback plays a dominant role in vocal pitch regulation when acoustic feedback is masked. The acoustic changes moreover suggest that right larynx-S1 stimulation affected the preparation and involuntary regulation of vocal pitch accuracy, and that kinesthetic-proprioceptive processes play a role in the voluntary control of pitch stability in nonsingers. Together, these data provide evidence for a causal involvement of right larynx-S1 in vocal pitch regulation during singing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume40
Issue7
Pages (from-to)2174-2187
Number of pages14
ISSN1065-9471
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • predictive coding
  • sensorimotor
  • singing
  • TMS
  • vocal production
  • MATCHING ACCURACY
  • AUDITORY-FEEDBACK
  • PATTERN GENERATION
  • LOWER BRAIN-STEM
  • SPEECH PRODUCTION
  • VOICE FUNDAMENTAL-FREQUENCY
  • TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION
  • SENSORIMOTOR INTEGRATION
  • EXPERIENCE-DEPENDENT MODULATION
  • EFFECTIVE CONNECTIVITY

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