By Interactive Metronome - December 13, 2018

Understanding the Forbrain® Effect

The Potential Effect of Forbrain® as an Altered Auditory Feedback Device

Carles Escera, Fran López-Caballero, and Natàlia Gorina-Careta

Published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

We perceive sound via the audio-vocal loop. Then, we analyze it, assimilate it, and continuously adjust in response to it. This process relies upon auditory discrimination, phonological awareness, and rhythm. Forbrain®, an altered auditory feedback (AAF) device, takes advantage of this audio-vocal loop & heightens a user’s perception of his own voice & speech through bone conduction headphones that are equipped with a high sensitivity microphone. As the user talks into the microphone, a patented electronic dynamic filter blocks out environmental noise & amplifies the user’s voice, enhancing long vowels and other sounds that are the building blocks of language.

Increasingly, studies show that impaired auditory processing is at the heart of many speech, language, and communication disorders, for example: dyslexia, specific language impairment, speech sound disorder, and developmental stuttering. Researchers have suggested that AAF devices may play an important role in the treatment of such conditions.

In this randomized, double-blind, & controlled experiment, investigators set out to explore whether Forbrain® would alter the voice quality of a sample of fluent speakers during natural speech, providing quantitative and objective measures of the fine-grained articulatory loop, demonstrating that Forbrain® does operate as an AAF device, & setting the stage for future research on specific clinical populations.

Results indicated that Forbrain® did indeed function as an AAF device and impacted quantitative measures of voice, including harmony and strength. In particular, the authors noted that harmony was perturbed due to the effect of the altered auditory feedback, and that voice strength was enhanced as the audio-vocal loop attempted to compensate. The clinical effect of AAF occurs when the received input (via the altered auditory feedback) does not match the efferent copy of the motor command (the user’s speech) and a prediction error is generated that forces a system readjustment.

“Based on its observed functionalities and the results obtained herein, it seems that it has been proven that Forbrain® provides AAF to its users and, therefore, that it could be considered as a low-cost option in treatments with AAF on a range of speech, language, and communication disorders. Further clinical studies should aim to validate its usefulness in clinical settings.”

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