Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik
Lecture by Diogo Almeida: The organization of speech sounds
in long term memory
There has long been a debate about how speech sounds are encoded for the purposes of lexical storage in long term memory. Some theories posit purely auditory encoding, others posit some form of articulatory-based encoding. In this talk, I will present recent work from my lab leveraging the ERP Mismatch Negativity (MMN) paradigm in EEG in a range of cross-linguistic studies on English, Arabic, Russian and Mandarin that attempts to provide answers to the following questions: are (1) speech sound categories in long term memory densely or sparsely encoded? and (2) do they incorporate fine phonetic detail or abstract away from it? I will argue on the basis of the results that speech sound categories are sparsely encoded in long-term memory and abstract away from considerable phonetic detail.