Humans can effortlessly recognize and react to natural sounds and are especially tuned to speech.

There have been several studies aimed to localize and understand the speech-specific parts of the brain, but as the same brain areas are mostly active for all sounds, it has remained unclear whether or not the brain has unique processes for speech processing, and how it performs these processes.

One of the main challenges has been to describe how the brain matches highly variable acoustic signals to linguistic representations when there is no one-to-one correspondence between the two, e.g. how the brain identifies the same words spoken by very different speakers and dialects as the same.

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