How Our Brains Process Words That We Hear

How Our Brains Process Words That We Hear

A new study out of New York University found that our brains “time-stamp the order of incoming sounds, allowing us to correctly process the words that we hear.” Laura Gwilliams, the paper’s lead author explains that “each sound is time-stamped with how much time has gone by since it entered the ear. This allows the listener to know both the order and the identity of the sounds that someone is saying to correctly figure out what words the person is saying.” More technically put, “each speech sound initiates a cascade of neurons firing in different places in the auditory cortex… the information about each individual sound in the phonetic word ‘k-a-t’ gets passed between different neural populations in a predictable way, which serves to time-stamp each sound with its relative order.”


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