What is Speech Perception and Theories of Speech Perception

What is Speech Perception and Theories of Speech Perception


Speech perception refers to the ability to perceive linguistic structure in the acoustic speech signal. As explained by the best psychologist in India, speech perception is the ability of humans to understand and interpret the sounds used in language. Speech perception has several levels of language structure in the speech signal. Speech perception abilities play a fundamental role in language acquisition. 

Speech perception involves three processes, hearing, interpreting and comprehending all of the sounds produced by a speaker. The combination of these features into an order that resembles speech of a given language is a main function of speech perception. Speech perception is a process where the individual listens, there is no overt action or an effort. When someone is reading it is more active as the individual can control what he wants to read and how much information he wants to process. Eye movements are enormously useful in revealing how the language system works. 

In infants, speech perception starts early on as soon as they begin to listen. They can discriminate and categorize at the phoneme level. Phonemes have no meaning in themselves but they are important in the development of speech. Research over the past two decades has shown that infants are also beginning to become sensitive to a variety of higher-level linguistic structures in speech.

According to Dr. R.K. Suri, best clinical psychologist in west delhi, Speech perception involves the complex processes of encoding and comprehension. In other words, interpretative processes, meaning, and contextual influences play an important role in speech perception. Speech is not comprehended simply on the basis of the sounds.

Scientifically, in speech perception the physical signal that reaches the ear consists of rapid vibrations of air. While the sounds of speech correlate with particular component frequencies, there is no direct one-to-one correspondence between the sounds of speech and the perception of listeners.

An important feature of speech perception is that speech is comprehended on the basis of many additional factors (e.g., intentions, context, and expectations) from which an interpretation of what the speaker says is constructed. A phrase as “Do you understand” can be interpreted in different ways which depends on the speaker’s tone or the frame of the mind of the listener. 

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Speech perception involves the mapping of speech acoustic signals onto linguistic messages.

Models/theories of speech perception

TRACE model of speech perception. The model is based on the principles of interactive activation. Information processing takes place through the excitatory and inhibitory interactions of a large number of simple processing units, each working continuously to update its own activation on the basis of the activations of other units to which it is connected. The model is called the TRACE model because the network of units forms a dynamic processing structure called “the Trace,” which serves at once as the perceptual processing mechanism and as the system's working memory. 

Motor theory was developed by Libermann and his colleagues in 1967. His model talks about the production of sounds in the speaker’s vocal tracts. The listener specifically perceives a speaker’s phonetic gestures while speaking. Speech is perceived in humans by means of specialized speech modules.

The motor theory model functions by using separate embedded models within the main models. It is the interaction of these models that makes Motor Theory possible.

Analysis by Synthesis model The analysis by synthesis model of speech perception, supposes that decoding of the acoustic signal employs the articulatory representation that would be required to produce the hypothesized identity of the incoming signal. The model proposes that while the human auditory system is innately equipped to handle the segments contained in speech, that the correlations between the acoustic information and articulation are learned with experience and form the basis for the division of the continuous acoustic signal into discrete categories of speech sounds. This thesis reviews recent research into the speech perception process and revises the analysis by synthesis model. It reveals that the human auditory system is innately equipped to divide stimuli (both speech and non-speech) that vary along certain acoustic dimensions into discrete classes. The unique processing that results for speech stimuli occurs when the stimuli is recognized as having a function in the system of language. Hence the requirements for phonetic processing involve the psychological realization that stimulus originated in the human vocal tract. 

Cohort model Cohort theory models spoken word recognition. Based on the beginning of an input word, all words in memory with the same word-initial acoustic information, the cohort, are activated. According to the model, when a person hears speech segments real-time, each speech segment "activates" every word in the lexicon that begins with that segment, and as more segments are added, more words are ruled out, until only one word is left that still matches the input. The point (left to right) at which a word diverges from all other members of the cohort is called the uniqueness point.