The work offers hints of a new explanation for how the brain can unbraid overlapping streams of auditory stimuli so quickly and effectively. Yet in doing so, the discovery doesn’t just call into question more established theories about speech processing; it also challenges ideas about how the entire auditory system works. Much of the prevailing wisdom about our perception of sounds is based on analogies to what we know about computations performed in the visual system. But growing evidence, including the recent study on speech, hints that auditory processing works very differently — so much so that scientists are starting to rethink what the various parts of the auditory system are doing and what that means for how we decipher rich soundscapes.
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