How your brain 'hears' speech - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

How your brain 'hears' speech

Updated: Jan 30, 2014 02:13 PM
© iStockphoto.com / Nicolas Loran © iStockphoto.com / Nicolas Loran

THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New research into human understanding of language suggests that the brain comprehends speech by picking up on certain kinds of sounds -- so-called acoustic signatures.

"This is a very intriguing glimpse into speech processing," study senior author Dr. Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release. "The brain regions where speech is processed had been identified, but no one has really known how that processing happens."

Researchers wanted to track the brain's response to spoken sentences that include all the speech sounds in the English language. To do so, they monitored the neural activity of six patients who were undergoing surgery for epilepsy as they listened to 500 English sentences spoken by 400 different people.

The researchers found that parts of the brain are tuned in to general acoustic signatures instead of specific speech sounds like those made by the letters B or Z.

"By studying all of the speech sounds in English, we found that the brain has a systematic organization for basic sound feature units, kind of like elements in the periodic table," Chang said.

The study appears in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal Science Express.

More information

For information on speech and communication disorders, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Health WatchMore>>

  • Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.
    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.
  • Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

    Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

    Friday, April 18 2014 1:01 AM EDT2014-04-18 05:01:04 GMT
    Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, President Barack Obama said Thursday, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of...
    Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and...
  • Dangers to Napping

    Dangers to Napping

    Amarillo,TX - Many people enjoy an afternoon catnap, but researchers say that could be hazardous to their health.  
    Amarillo,TX - Many people enjoy an afternoon catnap, but researchers say that could be hazardous to their health.  
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.