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Hearing what is being said: The distributed neural substrate for early speech interpretation

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

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Authors

Clarke, Alexander 
Tyler, Lorraine 
Marslen-Wilson, William 

Abstract

Speech comprehension is remarkable for the immediacy with which the listener hears what is being said. Here, we focus on the neural underpinnings of this process in isolated spoken words. We analysed source-localised MEG data for nouns using Representational Similarity Analysis to probe the spatiotemporal coordinates of phonology, lexical form, and the semantics of emerging word candidates. Phonological model fit was detectable within 40-50 ms, engaging a bilateral network including superior and middle temporal cortex and extending into anterior temporal and inferior parietal regions. Lexical form emerged within 60-70 ms, and model fit to semantics from 100-110 ms. Strikingly, the majority of vertices in a central core showed model fit to all three dimensions, consistent with a distributed neural substrate for early speech analysis. The early interpretation of speech seems to be conducted in a unified integrative representational space, in conflict with conventional views of a linguistically stratified representational hierarchy.

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Keywords

Journal Title

Language, Cognition and Neuroscience

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2327-3798
2327-3801

Volume Title

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Publisher DOI

Publisher URL

Sponsorship
Wellcome Trust (211200/Z/18/Z)
European Research Council (669820)