Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

The “psychophysics of speech” describes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding speech perception. The approach considers speech as a complex acoustic signal sharing much in common with other complex perceptual events and posits that, as such, speech may be studied in the broader context of general perceptual, cognitive and sensorineural systems. This approach is distinguished from approaches that consider speech to be a special signal processed in a manner distinct from non-speech sounds. The essence of a psychophysical approach is to determine the extent to which speech perception makes use of general cognitive and perceptual processes before postulating mechanisms specialized to the speech signal. Thus, understanding the psychophysics of speech may include utilization of animal models of auditory behavior and physiology to examine how much of speech perception may be accounted for by general, rather than specialized, mechanisms and relating speech perception to neural coding at peripheral and central levels of processing.


Will appear in P. Hogan, Editor, Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences.

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