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New insight into how brain interprets complex sounds


Narrator:       This is Science Today. When we hear many different sounds, like notes in a violin melody, our brain gets the overall gist by quickly summarizing what is being heard. This, according to new research led by University of California, Berkeley doctoral student Elise Piazza.

Piazza:           Perception is definitely something that everyone takes for granted, but if you think about how many elements are going into the words that I'm speaking right now, there are just so many properties and elements of these sounds that it's actually an incredible computational feat that we're able to combine them into coherent single sounds rapidly without really thinking about it.

Narrator:       Piazza explains that this new understanding could potentially improve hearing aids and speech recognition software programs.

Piazza:           So, currently this is just basic science research and if we're interested in potentially building better hearing aids, for example, we first need to understand the processes by which the brain is efficiently or optimally representing sounds.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.