Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have succeeded for the first time in devising a model that describes and identifies a basic cellular mechanism that enables the decoding of speech and other sounds in changing conditions.

Our brain can process speech and other complex auditory stimuli and make sense of them, even when the sound signals reach our ears in a slowed, accelerated or distorted manner.

However, the neuronal mechanisms that enable our brain to perceive a word correctly, for example, when it is pronounced in different ways by different speakers, or to understand a heavy accent, was a mystery to scientists until now.

The new research could lead to a significant upgrading of speech recognition technology in communications and computing, for instance in telephone voice dialing or in voice and sound monitoring devices.

It may also lead to the development of innovative treatments for auditory problems among adults and young people.

The technology has been patented by Yissum, the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company.