Sensorimotor learning enhances expectations during auditory perception

Brian Mathias* (Corresponding Author), Caroline Palmer, Fabien Perrin, Barbara Tillmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Sounds that have been produced with one's own motor system tend to be remembered better than sounds that have only been perceived, suggesting a role of motor information in memory for auditory stimuli. To address potential contributions of the motor network to the recognition of previously produced sounds, we used event-related potential, electric current density, and behavioral measures to investigate memory for produced and perceived melodies. Musicians performed or listened to novel melodies, and then heard the melodies either in their original version or with single pitch alterations. Production learning enhanced subsequent recognition accuracy and increased amplitudes of N200, P300, and N400 responses to pitch alterations. Premotor and supplementary motor regions showed greater current density during the initial detection of alterations in previously produced melodies than in previously perceived melodies, associated with the N200. Primary motor cortex was more strongly engaged by alterations in previously produced melodies within the P300 and N400 timeframes. Motor memory traces may therefore interface with auditory pitch percepts in premotor regions as early as 200 ms following perceived pitch onsets. Outcomes suggest that auditory-motor interactions contribute to memory benefits conferred by production experience, and support a role of motor prediction mechanisms in the production effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2238-54
Number of pages17
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:

ERASMUS MUNDUS Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience exchange grant and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to B.M., Canada Research Chairs grant and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grant (NSERC 298173) to C.P., Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS UMR5292) to B.T.

We thank Alexandra Corneyllie, Tatiana Selchenkova, Frances Spidle, Sasha Ilnyckyj, and Alexander Demos for their assistance. This work was conducted in the framework of the LabEx CeLyA (“Centre Lyonnais d'Acoustique,” ANR-10-LABX-60) and in the Sequence Production Lab, McGill University, Canada.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Brain/physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning/physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity/physiology
  • Music
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological/physiology
  • Pitch Perception/physiology
  • Professional Competence
  • Young Adult


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