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Chapter 7

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PSYC 212
Jelena Ristic

Chapter Seven The Auditory System: Music and Speech Perception Chapter Outline Two very common auditory tasks are the perception of music and the perception of speech, and this chapter focuses on how the auditory system processes these sensory signals. The chapter begins with music perception. You will learn about musical pitch, musical scales, and timbre (or tonal quality). Aspects of music perception, such as monophonic (single) and polyphonic (multiple) tones, will be discussed, as will tonal sequences, which include melody, tempo, and rhythm. Gestalt theory, as an account for the global perception of melody, will also be explained. You will then learn about the brain areas implicated in the processing of music. The focus of the chapter then shifts to speech perception. Humans have a remarkable ability to perceive speech sounds given that the signal is simply a stream of sound. To highlight this, listen to a language you do not understand. You will probably perceive it as a continuous string of noise, and yet with our native language we can effortlessly pick out individual words from the speech signal. To aid in your understanding of this process, the section begins with an overview of the anatomical structures responsible for producing speech. The basic sounds of speech, called phonemes, which can be combined to produce words, are then discussed. Sound spectrograms are used to examine the characteristics of a stream of speech as sound frequency and the associated intensity unfold over time. The comprehension of speech is then addressed. This begins with an overview of features that define a language and an outline of the field of psycholinguistics. Next, the perception of vowel and consonant speech sounds is considered. We classify speech sounds in a broad manner and this is known as categorical perception. Three major issues for speech perception are then discussed. These issues are: the segmentation problem, which relates to how we identify individual words in a speech stream; the variation problem, which suggests that even when there is variability in the speech signal, such as with accents and general differences between people in pronunciation, we are still able to discern meaning from the signal; and the coarticulation problem, which occurs when a particular speech segment (e.g., a phoneme or word) influences the sound of neighbouring speech segments in the speech stream, yet we still perceive the intended segment correctly. We also have a great ability to fill in missing phonemic segments, for example, if a cough obscures part of a word you will likely still perceive the intended word correctly, and this is an example of the phonemic restoration effect. The chapter concludes with an overview of language processing in the brain and a discussion of Wernike’s aphasia and Broca’s aphasia, two conditions that result from damage to separate areas in the left hemisphere that affect language. 2 Learning Objectives This chapter will help you  contrast how music differs from isolated tones in how the fundamental frequency and harmonics activate the basilar membrane of the cochlea. They will also become familiar with timbre as the measure of quality of musical sound. If you are familiar with musical theory, you will be able to relate the concepts of the musical octave and representing pitch to your own experiences.  think critically about suggestions by evolutionary psychologists that music evolved because of its adaptive purposes  describe tonal superpositions and explain the difference between a consonant or dissonant superposition. Likewise, you should understand what a tonal sequence is and, from a musician’s perspective, how these sequences relate to melody, tempo, and rhythm. You should also be able to explain the perception of tonal sequences using the principles of Gestalt theory.  identify the cortical areas involved in the perception of pitch and describe how pitch perception is affected when these areas are damaged by injury or stroke.  understand that language in humans is a universal ability and, although there is great variation across cultures, all language share common characteristics.  identify the structures involved in the production of speech as well as their functions. You should also be familiar with the basic speech sounds (phonemes) and how they are classified according to their place of articulation and manner of constriction.  describe the acoustic properties of speech including the waveform, frequency characteristic and the spectrograph. When looking at a spectrograph, you should be able to identify the formants and describe how these acoustic cues allow us to isolate and recognize speech sounds in speech perception. 3  discuss the categorical nature of speech that varies according to changes in voice onset time. You should also understand the concept of co-articulation and how this aids in the perception of consonant sounds while still presenting challenges.  describe the process and results of the phonemic restoration effect and the McGurk Effect as well as what these phenomena tell us about speech perception.  iden
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