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From: The Harvard Gazette

Sounding out speech

The Harvard Gazette:

Just about all parents would agree — infants undergo a nearly magical transformation from 3 to 6 months. Seemingly overnight, they can smile and laugh, and they squeal with delight when tickled. They babble, have “conversations” with those around them, and start to respond to their own names.

A new Harvard study adds one more item to the list — solving the invariance problem.

Among the thorniest challenges in the study of speech perception, the invariance problem was first identified in the 1950s, when scientists began using instruments to analyze spoken language.

What they discovered was that although syllables such as “ba,” “be,” and “bo” all sound as if they begin with the same consonant sound, in fact, each is different, in some cases dramatically so. Why, then, did people interpret the sounds as being identical?

Read the whole story: The Harvard Gazette

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