Subvocalization During Preparatory and Non-preparatory Auditory Imagery

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Given previous results showing that auditory imagery is associated with subvocal muscle movements related to pitch control, the present study addressed whether subvocalization of pitch is differentially involved during imagery that precedes the execution of an imagined action as compared to non-preparatory imagery. We examined subvocal activity using surface electromyography (sEMG) during auditory imagery that preceded sung reproduction of a pitch sequence (preparatory) or recognition of a pitch sequence (non-preparatory). On different trials, participants either imagined the sequence as presented, or imagined a mental transformation of that sequence. Behavioral results replicated previous findings of poorer reproduction and recognition of transformed sequences compared to sequences in their original form. Physiological results indicated that subvocal activity was significantly above baseline for all conditions, greater than activity observed for the bicep control site, and greater for longer sequences, but did not reliably scale with transformation type. Furthermore, greater subvocal activity during preparatory imagery was associated with greater subvocal activity during non-preparatory imagery for muscles involved in pitch control and articulation. Muscle activity involved in pitch control was similarly recruited for both preparatory and non-preparatory auditory imagery. In contrast, muscle activity involved in vocal articulation was most strongly recruited during motor preparation. Our findings suggest that pitch imagery recruits subvocal muscle activity regardless of whether the imagined action is intended to be effected


Auditory Perception and Cognition



DOI, E. B., *Gentile, A. M., Pruitt, T. A., Halpern, A. R, & Pfordresher, P. Q. (2023). Subvocalization during preparatory and non-preperatory auditory imagery. Auditory Perception and Cognition.

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