Perceptual learning of degraded speech by minimizing prediction error

Sohoglu, Ediz and Davis, Matthew H (2016) Perceptual learning of degraded speech by minimizing prediction error. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (12). E1747-E1756. ISSN 0027-8424

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Human perception is shaped by past experience on multiple timescales. Sudden and dramatic changes in perception occur when prior knowledge or expectations match stimulus content. These immediate effects contrast with the longer-term, more gradual improvements that are characteristic of perceptual learning. Despite extensive investigation of these two experience-dependent phenomena, there is considerable debate about whether they result from common or dissociable neural mechanisms. Here we test single- and dual-mechanism accounts of experience-dependent changes in perception using concurrent magnetoencephalographic and EEG recordings of neural responses evoked by degraded speech. When speech clarity was enhanced by prior knowledge obtained from matching text, we observed reduced neural activity in a peri-auditory region of the superior temporal gyrus (STG). Critically, longer-term improvements in the accuracy of speech recognition following perceptual learning resulted in reduced activity in a nearly identical STG region. Moreover, short-term neural changes caused by prior knowledge and longer-term neural changes arising from perceptual learning were correlated across subjects with the magnitude of learning-induced changes in recognition accuracy. These experience-dependent effects on neural processing could be dissociated from the neural effect of hearing physically clearer speech, which similarly enhanced perception but increased rather than decreased STG responses. Hence, the observed neural effects of prior knowledge and perceptual learning cannot be attributed to epiphenomenal changes in listening effort that accompany enhanced perception. Instead, our results support a predictive coding account of speech perception; computational simulations show how a single mechanism, minimization of prediction error, can drive immediate perceptual effects of prior knowledge and longer-term perceptual learning of degraded speech.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2019 09:22
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2021 12:15

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