The Lombard Effect: From Acoustics to Neural Mechanisms

Jinhong Luo, Steffen R. Hage, Cynthia F. Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Understanding the neural underpinnings of vocal–motor control in humans and other animals remains a major challenge in neurobiology. The Lombard effect – a rise in call amplitude in response to background noise – has been demonstrated in a wide range of vertebrates. Here, we review both behavioral and neurophysiological data and propose that the Lombard effect is driven by a subcortical neural network, which can be modulated by cortical processes. The proposed framework offers mechanistic explanations for two fundamental features of the Lombard effect: its widespread taxonomic distribution across the vertebrate phylogenetic tree and the widely observed variations in compensation magnitude. We highlight the Lombard effect as a model behavioral paradigm for unraveling some of the neural underpinnings of audiovocal integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-949
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in neurosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • acoustic communication
  • ambient noise
  • audiovocal integration
  • cognitive networks
  • subcortical circuits
  • vocal motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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