Considerable work suggests the dominant syllable rhythm of the acoustic envelope is remarkably similar across languages (∼4–5 Hz) and that oscillatory brain activity tracks these quasi-periodic rhythms to facilitate speech processing. However, whether this fundamental periodicity represents a common organizing principle in both auditory and motor systems involved in speech has not been explicitly tested. To evaluate relations between entrainment in the perceptual and production domains, we measured individuals’ (i) neuroacoustic tracking of the EEG to speech trains and their (ii) simultaneous and non-simultaneous productions synchronized to syllable rates between 2.5–8.5 Hz. Productions made without concurrent auditory presentation isolated motor speech functions more purely. We show that neural synchronization flexibly adapts to the heard stimuli in a rate-dependent manner, but that phase locking is boosted near ∼4.5 Hz, the purported dominant rate of speech. Cued speech productions (recruit sensorimotor interaction) were optimal between 2.5–4.5 Hz, suggesting a low-frequency constraint on motor output and/or sensorimotor integration. In contrast, “pure” motor productions (without concurrent sound cues) were most precisely generated at rates of 4.5 and 5.5 Hz, paralleling the neuroacoustic data. Correlations further revealed strong links between receptive (EEG) and production synchronization abilities; individuals with stronger auditory-perceptual entrainment better matched speech rhythms motorically. Together, our findings support an intimate link between exogenous and endogenous rhythmic processing that is optimized at 4–5 Hz in both auditory and motor systems. Parallels across modalities could result from dynamics of the speech motor system coupled with experience-dependent tuning of the perceptual system via the sensorimotor interface.

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Handling Editor: David Poeppel

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