06 Trout2003 - CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Copyright © 2003 American Psychological Society CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 155 Abstract Language research over the past 40 years converges on the speech-is-special hypothesis (SiS), according to which speech perception and produc- tion are uniquely human ad- aptations. SiS is grounded in a variety of biological, develop- mental, and behavioral evi- dence. In some comparative studies, speechlike stimuli have seemed to cause nonhuman animals to exhibit humanlike performance functions. Audi- torists—who believe that spo- ken language processing is executed by, and is explicable in terms of, general auditory mechanisms—have seized upon such studies as evidence that SiS is incorrect. However, it is diffi- cult to identify biological and functional similarities across dif- ferent species on the basis of be- havior alone, and the elaborate training regimen that nonhuman animals require to achieve hu- man performance levels under- mines the significance of certain comparative studies. Both com- parative and human behavioral research, including brain-imag- ing studies of functional local- ization, electrophysiological recordings of the neural basis of the perception-production link, and developmental stud- ies of a time-locked schedule of language learning, favor SiS over auditorism. Keywords speech-is-special (SiS); audi- torism; comparative research; speech perception and produc- tion In humans, speech perception un- leashes an intricate choreography of complex neural feats. Over the course of a sentence, the listener must spontaneously analyze the frequency spectrum, identify phonetic features, segment phonological units from the continuous stream of speech, apply rules of word formation, track into- national contours, access words from the mental lexicon, and enforce syn- tactic constraints on permissible grammatical formulation. The hu- man brain executes this multilayered process with blinding speed. We per- ceive, and we produce, about three words per second, or one phone (the smallest perceptible unit of speech) every tenth of a second. Two opposing theoretical expla- nations orient research programs on these marvels of spoken lan- guage processing. According to the view that speech is special (SiS), the mechanisms and processes of speech perception and production are uniquely human adaptations. Auditorism, on the other hand, holds that spoken language pro- cessing is executed by, and is expli- cable in terms of, general auditory mechanisms shared by many other species. Comparative research on animals (Hauser, 1996) has been the main source of evidence in the SiS-versus-auditorism debate (Trout, 2001). DIVERSE EVIDENCE FOR SiS Many language scientists, in- cluding Eric Lenneberg, Noam Chomsky, and Steven Pinker, have promoted the view that there is bi- ological specialization for lan- guage, and in particular for syntax.
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern