Speech perception under adverse conditions: insights from behavioral, computational, and neuroscience research.
Adult speech perception reflects the long-term regularities of the native language, but it is also flexible such that it accommodates and adapts to adverse listening conditions and short-term deviations from native-language norms. The purpose of this article is to examine how the broader neuroscience literature can inform and advance research efforts in understanding the neural basis of flexibility and adaptive plasticity in speech perception. Specifically, we highlight the potential role of learning algorithms that rely on prediction error signals and discuss specific neural structures that are likely to contribute to such learning. To this end, we review behavioral studies, computational accounts, and neuroimaging findings related to adaptive plasticity in speech perception. Already, a few studies have alluded to a potential role of these mechanisms in adaptive plasticity in speech perception. Furthermore, we consider research topics in neuroscience that offer insight into how perception can be adaptively tuned to short-term deviations while balancing the need to maintain stability in the perception of learned long-term regularities. Consideration of the application and limitations of these algorithms in characterizing flexible speech perception under adverse conditions promises to inform theoretical models of speech.