Pure word deafness and the bilateral processing of the speech code

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The analysis of pure word deafness (PWD) suggests that speech perception, construed as the integration of acoustic information to yield representations that enter into the linguistic computational system, (i) is separable in a modular sense from other aspects of auditory cognition and (ii) is mediated by the posterior superior temporal cortex in both hemispheres. PWD data are consistent with neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence in a manner that suggests that the speech code is analyzed bilaterally. The typical lateralization associated with language processing is a property of the computational system that acts beyond the analysis of the input signal. The hypothesis of the bilateral mediation of the speech code does not imply that both sides execute the same computation. It is proposed that the speech signal is asymmetrically analyzed in the time domain, with left-hemisphere mechanisms preferentially extracting information over shorter (25-50 ms) temporal integration windows and right mechanisms over longer (150-250 ms) windows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-693
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Auditory agnosia
  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Imaging
  • Lesions
  • Neural basis of speech
  • Speech perception
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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