(Times-Gazette) – MIT and Duke scientists discovered an area inside the brain that is sensitive for the time of one’s speech, a crucial element for spoken language. Timing is very important to the structure of speech. For instance, phonemes are the most basic, shortest unit of speech, which last only about 30 to 60 milliseconds. In comparison, syllables are longer between 200 and 300 milliseconds, while the majority of whole words are even longer.

To understand speech, the human brain has to somehow integrate the rapidly evolving data.

The human auditory system, similar to other sensory systems, is likely to take shortcuts in order to cope with such an onslaught of data, by sampling the information in large chunks similar in length to a syllable or consonant, says the co-author of the study, Tobias Overath from Duke University.

Josh McDermott the other co-author attends MIT.


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