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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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Osteopathy and singing: How important is somatosensory feedback?

Osteopathy and singing: How important is somatosensory feedback?

When we hum and place our hands on our throat and cheeks, we can feel vibrations through our fingers.

When you perform /a/ or /o/ you recognize different sensations in the mouth associated with each vowel. If we focus on these points, we can feel different sensations depending on whether we breathe and/or speak.

All these sensations constitute somatosensory feedback which includes the sense of movement (kinesthesia) and position (proprioception); it is these feedbacks that give the brain information on the current state of the respiratory, laryngeal and orofacial systems (Smith and Zelaznick, 2004; Smotherman, 2007), playing a crucial role in the coordination and accuracy of motor controls.

Somatosensory feedback originates from tactile, position, and vibration receptors located in joints, muscles, and mucosal tissues of the vocal tract, and also involved in intrinsic laryngeal motor management, such as the rapid flow-induced motor control of vocal oscillation during singing and spoken (Fittze and Hunter, 2004).

These receptors are involved in coordinating the supralaryngeal attitudes that give rise to the various conformations of the vocal tract, which in turn modulate the spectral properties of the primary sound generated at the level of the glottis, the intelligibility (Lametti et al, 2012).

Neural signals including somatosensory feedback from the orofacial, laryngeal and respiratory systems are generated by these receptors and are then sent to the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and the insula (Ackermann and Riecker, 2010; Jürgens, 2002).

The latter is a higher level area that integrates both sensory and motor information, and is associated with interjection (the perception of our current physiological state) based on sensory integration (Craig, 2003) and self-awareness of actions (Karnath and Baier, 2010).

Specifically, the anterior portion of this region appears to contribute to the coordination of vocal tract movements during singing (Riecker et al, 2000) and may also play a role in breathing during vocalization (Ackermann and Riecker, 2010).

Periodically exercising this type of perception improves and facilitates the biomechanical/technical self-understanding of the Artist.

Do you want to understand how you can exercise and develop this sensitivity? An Osteopath who deals with voice will be able to show you the best way.


Valentina Carlile - Osteopath expert in Osteopathy applied to voice and language disorders since 2002. For information and reservations visit the Contact page

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