Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Cognitive restoration of reversed speech

Nature volume 398, page 760 (29 April 1999) | Download Citation



Speech is the most complex auditory signal and requires the most processing1. The human brain devotes large cortical areas2,3 to deciphering the information it contains, as well as parsing speech sounds produced simultaneously by several speakers4. The brain can also invoke corrective measures to restore distortions in speech5; for example, if a brief speech sound is replaced by an interfering sound that masks it, such as a cough, the listener perceives the missing speech as if the brain interpolates through the absent segment. We have studied the intelligibility of speech, and find it is resistant to time reversal of local segments of a spoken sentence, which has been described as “the most drastic form of time scale distortion”6.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Moore, B. C. J. An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing 4th edn (Academic, New York, 1997).

  2. 2.

    , & Sci. Am. 239, 50–59 (1978).

  3. 3.

    , , & J. Neurophysiol. 48, 458–466 (1982).

  4. 4.

    J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 25, 975–979 (1953).

  5. 5.

    , , & Percept. Psychophys. 55, 313–322 (1994).

  6. 6.

    Licklider, J. C. R. & Miller, G. A. The Perception of Speech. Handbook of Experimental Psychology (ed. Stevens, S. S.) 1040-1074 (Wiley, New York, 1960).

  7. 7.

    & J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 103, 3057 (1998).

  8. 8.

    Behav. Brain Sci. 21, 267 (1998).

  9. 9.

    Percept. Psychophys. 58, 1026–1036 (1996).

Download references

Author information


  1. *Division of Biology 216-76, Caltech, Pasadena, California 91125, USA   e-mail:

    • Kourosh Saberi
  2. †Departmentof Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles, California 90032, USA

    • David R. Perrott


  1. Search for Kourosh Saberi in:

  2. Search for David R. Perrott in:

About this article

Publication history



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.