Eisner, F., & McQueen, J. M.
Speech perception. In S. Thompson-Schill (Ed.
), Stevens’ handbook of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience (4th ed.). Volume 3: Language & thought
(pp. 1-46). Hoboken: Wiley. doi:10.1002/9781119170174.epcn301.
This chapter reviews the computational processes that are responsible for recognizing word forms in the speech stream. We outline the different stages in a processing hierarchy from the extraction of general acoustic features, through speech‐specific prelexical processes, to the retrieval and selection of lexical representations. We argue that two recurring properties of the system as a whole are abstraction and adaptability. We also present evidence for parallel processing of information on different timescales, more specifically that segmental material in the speech stream (its consonants and vowels) is processed in parallel with suprasegmental material (the prosodic structures of spoken words). We consider evidence from both psycholinguistics and neurobiology wherever possible, and discuss how the two fields are beginning to address common computational problems. The challenge for future research in speech perception will be to build an account that links these computational problems, through functional mechanisms that address them, to neurobiological implementation.