ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (8): 1175-1184.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.01175

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The cognitive and neural mechanism of poor-pitch singing

HE Hao; ZHANG Wei-dong   

  1. (School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China)
  • Received:2015-07-26 Online:2016-08-15 Published:2016-08-15
  • Contact: ZHANG Wei-dong, E-mail:


In spite of the fact that the majority can carry a tune, some individuals show deficits in producing or imitating pitch. During the past decade, the poor-pitch singing domain has produced a large body of literature on the definition, cause and mechanism of poor-pitch singing. To date, there has not been a standard strategy to identify poor-pitch singers, while it is likely to provide thorough information over an individual’s singing proficiency to use the multi-task, multi-measure, and relative criterion approach. Singing involves four major components: perception, sensorimotor integration, vocal motor controlling, and memory. Among them, the deficient sensorimotor integration is thought to be the major cause of poor-pitch singing. The recent MMIA model describes the distorted association between auditory and vocal motor imagery, offering a proposal for how the abstract notion of an internal model over the sensorimotor association is implemented within the auditory-vocal system. Future study should further explore the auditory-vocal motor association by testing and refining the MMIA model, which paves the ground to improve individuals’ pitch singing skills.

Key words: poor-pitch singing, pitch imitation, internal model, MMIA model, amusia