On-line plasticity in spoken sentence comprehension: Adapting to time-compressed speech

Patti Adank, Joseph T. Devlin

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    Listeners show remarkable flexibility in processing variation in speech signal. One striking example is the ease with which they adapt to novel speech distortions such as listening to someone with a foreign accent. Behavioural studies suggest that significant improvements in comprehension occur rapidly - often within 10-20 sentences. In the present experiment, we investigate the neural changes underlying on-line adaptation to distorted speech using time-compressed speech. Listeners performed a sentence verification task on normal-speed and time-compressed sentences while their neural responses were recorded using fMRI. The results showed that rapid learning of the time-compressed speech occurred during presentation of the first block of 16 sentences and was associated with increased activation in left and right auditory association cortices and in left ventral premotor cortex. These findings suggest that the ability to adapt to a distorted speech signal may, in part, rely on mapping novel acoustic patterns onto existing articulatory motor plans, consistent with the idea that speech perception involves integrating multi-modal information including auditory and motoric cues. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1124-1132
    Number of pages8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • Auditory systems
    • Functional MRI
    • Learning
    • Prefrontal cortex
    • Temporal cortex


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