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Behav Brain Res. 1990 Nov 15;40(2):85-94.

Acquired word deafness, and the temporal grain of sound representation in the primary auditory cortex.

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Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


This paper explores the nature of the processing disorder which underlies the speech discrimination deficit in the syndrome of acquired word deafness following from pathology to the primary auditory cortex. A critical examination of the evidence on this disorder revealed the following. First, the most profound forms of the condition are expressed not only in an isolation of the cerebral linguistic processor from auditory input, but in a failure of even the perceptual elaboration of the relevant sounds. Second, in agreement with earlier studies, we conclude that the perceptual dimension disturbed in word deafness is a temporal one. We argue, however, that it is not a generalized disorder of auditory temporal processing, but one which is largely restricted to the processing of sounds with temporal content in the milliseconds to tens-of-milliseconds time frame. The perceptual elaboration of sounds with temporal content outside that range, in either direction, may survive the disorder. Third, we present neurophysiological evidence that the primary auditory cortex has a special role in the representation of auditory events in that time frame, but not in the representation of auditory events with temporal grains outside that range.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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