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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the neural systems underlying speech perception processes with a focus on the acoustic properties contributing to the phonetic dimensions of speech and the mapping of speech input to phonetic categories and word representations. Neuroimaging findings and results from brain lesions resulting in aphasia suggest that these processes recruit a neural system that includes temporal (Heschl’s gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, superior temporal sulcus, and middle temporal gyrus), parietal (supramarginal and angular gyri), and frontal lobe structures (inferior frontal gyrus) and support a functional architecture in which there are distinct stages organized such that information at one stage of processing influences and modulates information at other stages of processing. In particular, spectral-temporal analysis of speech recruits temporal areas, lexical processing, i.e. the mapping of sound structure to phonetic category and lexical representations, recruits posterior superior temporal gyrus and parietal areas, and selection processes recruit frontal areas. The authors consider how evidence from cognitive neuroscience can inform a number of theoretical issues that have dominated speech perception research, including invariance, the influence of higher level processes (both lexical and sentence processing) on lower level phonetic categorization processes, the influence of articulatory and motor processes on speech perception, the effects of phonetic and phonological competition on lexical access, and the plasticity of phonetic category learning in the adult listener.

Keywords: speech perception, lexical processing, lexical competition, invariance, neuroimaging, aphasia, acoustic properties, phonetic categories, plasticity

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