Scientists Identify Cellular Mechanism Related To Speech Processing

by Aruna on Aug 17 2009 10:13 AM

Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a model that has helped in identifying a basic cellular mechanism related to processing of speech.

The new model would contribute to improvement of voice recognition technologies that enables networks of neurons to efficiently decode speech.

For instance telephone voice dialing or in voice and sound monitoring devices.

It will help in upgrading computer algorithms for faster and more precise speech recognition as well as for the development of innovative treatments for auditory problems among adults and young people.

Brain has the capability to process speech and other complex auditory stimuli and to make sense of them, even when the sound signals are distorted.

However, the neuronal mechanisms that enable brain to perceive a word correctly, for example, that is pronounced in different ways by different speakers or to understand a heavy accent, was a mystery to scientists until now.

Research associate Dr. Robert Gitig and Prof. Haim Sompolinsky of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University have identified a cellular process by which sensory neurons in the brain can automatically adjust their perceptual clocks and thus correct large temporal variations in the rate of sounds and speech that arrive from the environment.

This bio-physical mechanism that exists in our brain enables single nerve cells in the cerebral cortex to perform word identification tasks almost perfectly.

The findings are published in the PLoS Biology journal.