Adult speakers have developed precise forward models of articulation for their native language and seem to rely less on auditory sensory feedback. However, for learning of the production of new speech sounds, auditory perception provides a corrective signal for motor control. We assessed adult German speakers’ speech motor learning capacity in the absence of auditory feedback but with clear somatosensory information. Learners were presented with a nonnative singleton-geminate duration contrast of voiceless, unaspirated bilabial plosives /p/ vs. /pp/ which is present in Italian. We found that the lack of auditory feedback had no immediate effect but that deviating productions emerged during the course of learning. By the end of training, speakers with masked feedback produced strong lengthening of segments and showed more variation on their production than speakers with normal auditory feedback. Our findings indicate that auditory feedback is necessary for the learning of precise coordination of articulation even if somatosensory feedback is salient.
Lipski is with the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research Cologne, Germany. Unger and Grice are with IfL-Phonetik, University of Cologne, Germany. Meister is with the Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Cologne, Germany.