Volume 120, Issue 2, August 2006
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
Effects of language experience and stimulus complexity on the categorical perception of pitch direction120(2006); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2213572View Description Hide Description
Whether or not categorical perception results from the operation of a special, language-specific, speech mode remains controversial. In this cross-language (Mandarin Chinese, English) study of the categorical nature of tone perception, we compared native Mandarin and English speakers’ perception of a physical continuum of fundamental frequency contours ranging from a level to rising tone in both Mandarin speech and a homologous (nonspeech) harmonic tone. This design permits us to evaluate the effect of language experience by comparing Chinese and English groups; to determine whether categorical perception is speech-specific or domain-general by comparing speech to nonspeech stimuli for both groups; and to examine whether categorical perception involves a separate categorical process, distinct from regions of sensory discontinuity, by comparing speech to nonspeech stimuli for English listeners. Results show evidence of strong categorical perception of speech stimuli for Chinese but not English listeners. Categorical perception of nonspeech stimuli was comparable to that for speech stimuli for Chinese but weaker for English listeners, and perception of nonspeech stimuli was more categorical for English listeners than was perception of speech stimuli. These findings lead us to adopt a memory-based, multistore model of perception in which categorization is domain-general but influenced by long-term categorical representations.
Neural correlates of intelligibility in speech investigated with noise vocoded speech—A positron emission tomography study120(2006); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2216725View Description Hide Description
Functional imaging studies of speech perception in the human brain have identified a key role for auditory association areas in the temporal lobes (bilateral superior temporal gyri and sulci) in the perceptual processing of the speech signal. This is extended to suggest some functional specialization within this bilateral system, with a particular role for the left anterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) in processing intelligible speech. In the current study, noise-vocoded speech was used to vary the intelligibility of speech parametrically. This replicated the finding of a selective response to intelligibility in speech in the left anterior superior temporal sulcus, in contrast to the posterior superior temporal sulcus, which showed a response profile insensitive to the degree of intelligibility. These results are related to theories of functional organization in the human auditory system, which have indicated that there are separate processing streams, with different functional roles, running anterior and posterior to primary auditory cortex. Specifically, it is suggested that an anterior stream processing intelligibility can be distinguished from a posterior stream associated with transient representations, important in spoken repetition and working memory.