Neural speech tracking shifts from the syllabic to the modulation rate of speech as intelligibility decreases

Fabian Schmidt*, Ya Ping Chen, Anne Keitel, Sebastian Rösch, Ronny Hannemann, Maja Serman, Anne Hauswald, Nathan Weisz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The most prominent acoustic features in speech are intensity modulations, represented by the amplitude envelope of speech. Synchronization of neural activity with these modulations supports speech comprehension. As the acoustic modulation of speech is related to the production of syllables, investigations of neural speech tracking commonly do not distinguish between lower-level acoustic (envelope modulation) and higher-level linguistic (syllable rate) information. Here we manipulated speech intelligibility using noise-vocoded speech and investigated the spectral dynamics of neural speech processing, across two studies at cortical and subcortical levels of the auditory hierarchy, using magnetoencephalography. Overall, cortical regions mostly track the syllable rate, whereas subcortical regions track the acoustic envelope. Furthermore, with less intelligible speech, tracking of the modulation rate becomes more dominant. Our study highlights the importance of distinguishing between envelope modulation and syllable rate and provides novel possibilities to better understand differences between auditory processing and speech/language processing disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14362
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume60
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Keywords

  • MEG
  • neural speech tracking
  • spectral parametrization
  • speech envelope modulation
  • speech-brain coherence
  • syllable rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)

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