Singing requires effortless and efficient use of auditory and motor systems that center around the perception and production of the human voice. Although perception and production are usually tightly coupled functions, occasional mismatches between the two systems inform us of dissociable pathways in the brain systems that enable singing. Here I review the literature on perception and production in the auditory modality, and propose a dual-stream neuroanatomical model that subserves singing. I will discuss studies surrounding the neural functions of feedforward, feedback, and efference systems that control vocal monitoring, as well as the white matter pathways that connect frontal and temporal regions that are involved in perception and production. I will also consider disruptions of the perception-production network that are evident in tone-deaf individuals and poor pitch singers. Finally, by comparing expert singers against other musicians and nonmusicians, I will evaluate the possibility that singing training might offer rehabilitation from these disruptions through neuroplasticity of the perception-production network. Taken together, the best available evidence supports a model of dorsal and ventral pathways in auditory-motor integration that enables singing and is shared with language, music, speech, and human interactions in the auditory environment.
- Received June 6, 2014.
- Accepted October 1, 2014.
- © 2015 by The Regents of the University of California