The Neural Code That Makes Us Human

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Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 978-979
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251495

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Speech provides a fascinating window into brain processes. It is understood effortlessly, and despite a huge variability, manifests both within and across speakers. It is also a stable and reliable carrier of linguistic meaning, complex and intricate as it may be. How speech is encoded and decoded has puzzled those seeking to understand how the brain extracts sense from an ambiguous, noisy environment (see the figure). On page 1006 in this issue, Mesgarani et al. (1) demonstrate the neural basis of speech perception by combining linguistic, electrophysiological, clinical, and computational approaches.