Finding levels of abstraction in speech production: Evidence from sound-production impairment

Adam Buchwald, Michele Miozzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A widely held view in linguistics and psycholinguistics is that there are distinct levels of processing for context-independent and context-specific representations of sound structure. Recently, this view has been disputed, in part because of the absence of clear evidence that there are abstract mental representations of discrete sound-structure units. Here, we present novel evidence that separate context-independent and context-specific representations of sound structure are supported by distinct brain mechanisms that can be selectively impaired in individuals with acquired brain deficits. Acoustic data from /s/-deletion errors of 2 aphasic speakers suggest both a phonological level of processing at which sound representations (e.g., /p/) do not specify context-specific detail (e.g., aspirated or unaspirated) and a distinct level at which context-specific information is represented. These data help constrain accounts of sound-structure processing in word production and crucially support the claim that context-independent linguistic information affects language production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1119
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011



  • allophones
  • aphasia
  • phonemes
  • phonology
  • speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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