InterSpeech 2015

The Human Speech Cortex

Edward Chang
San Francisco, California, United States


Eddie Chang, MD, a neurosurgeon-scientist, stands at the threshold between novel technology and brain circuitry with his expertise in the development of brain machine interface devices. Chang specializes in operative brain mapping, enabling him to not only carry out the safest possible surgeries but also make the most precise, real-time measurements of human brain activity currently available. His work has led to an unprecedented level of understanding of the brain circuitry underlying speech perception and production. Chang studies the patterns in the brain that orchestrate the lips, tongue, jaw, and larynx for development of speech prosthetic device for patients who have lost their capacity to speak due to brain injury, ALS, or stroke. He has been awarded the 2015 Blavatnik National Laureate in Life Sciences, NIH New Innovator Award, and the Robertson Fellow of the New York Stem Cell Foundation.


A unique and defining trait of human behavior is our ability to communicate through speech.

The fundamental organizational principles of the neural circuits within speech brain areas are largely unknown.

In this talk, I will present new results from our research on the functional organization of the human higher-order auditory cortex, known as Wernickes area.

I will focus on how neural populations in the superior temporal lobe encode acoustic-phonetic representations of speech, and also how they integrate influences of linguistic context to achieve perceptual robustness.