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How does human motor cortex regulate vocal pitch in singers?

Belyk, M; Lee, YS; Brown, S; (2018) How does human motor cortex regulate vocal pitch in singers? Royal Society Open Science , 5 (8) , Article 172208. 10.1098/rsos.172208. Green open access

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Abstract

Vocal pitch is used as an important communicative device by humans, as found in the melodic dimension of both speech and song. Vocal pitch is determined by the degree of tension in the vocal folds of the larynx, which itself is influenced by complex and nonlinear interactions among the laryngeal muscles. The relationship between these muscles and vocal pitch has been described by a mathematical model in the form of a set of ‘control rules’. We searched for the biological implementation of these control rules in the larynx motor cortex of the human brain. We scanned choral singers with functional magnetic resonance imaging as they produced discrete pitches at four different levels across their vocal range. While the locations of the larynx motor activations varied across singers, the activation peaks for the four pitch levels were highly consistent within each individual singer. This result was corroborated using multi-voxel pattern analysis, which demonstrated an absence of patterned activations differentiating any pairing of pitch levels. The complex and nonlinear relationships between the multiple laryngeal muscles that control vocal pitch may obscure the neural encoding of vocal pitch in the brain.

Type: Article
Title: How does human motor cortex regulate vocal pitch in singers?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.172208
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.172208
Language: English
Additional information: Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: voice, pitch, larynx, motor cortex, functional magnetic resonance imaging, speech
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079795
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