Perceived loudness of self-generated sounds is differentially modified by expected sound intensity

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Abstract

Performing actions with sensory consequences modifies physiological and behavioral responses relative to otherwise identical sensory input perceived in a passive manner. It is assumed that such modifications occur through an efference copy sent from motor cortex to sensory regions during performance of voluntary actions. In the auditory domain most behavioral studies report attenuated perceived loudness of self-generated auditory action-consequences. However, several recent behavioral and physiological studies report enhanced responses to such consequences. Here we manipulated the intensity of self-generated and externally-generated sounds and examined the type of perceptual modification (enhancement vs. attenuation) reported by healthy human subjects. We found that when the intensity of self-generated sounds was low, perceived loudness is enhanced. Conversely, when the intensity of self-generated sounds was high, perceived loudness is attenuated. These results might reconcile some of the apparent discrepancies in the reported literature and suggest that efference copies can adapt perception according to the differential sensory context of voluntary actions.

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Reznik, D., Henkin, Y., Levy, O., & Mukamel, R. (2015). Perceived loudness of self-generated sounds is differentially modified by expected sound intensity. PLoS ONE, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127651

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