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Edward Chang

Edward Chang, Stanford Neurosciences Institute

The neural code of speech

Edward Chang, MD

Professor of Neurological Surgery
University of California, San Francisco



Our work seeks to understand the neural representations encoded by the human speech cortex.  In this presentation, I will describe new neurobiological discoveries about two fundamental components of speech:  perception and production.  When we hear speech, acoustic signals are transformed into internal representations of phonetic features in the superior temporal cortex known as Wernicke’s area.  Conversely, when we speak, motor commands are generated from the speech motor cortex to execute precise, stereotyped vocal tract movements called gestures.  These perceptual and production systems interact closely for sensorimotor integration in adaptive fluent speech.  These findings advance a new, highly-detailed model of functional organization (maps) of speech cortex, but more importantly, move us closer to an algorithmic understanding of the cortical computations underlying this most unique, and defining human behavior of vocal communication.


Edward Chang is a Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.  His research focuses on the discovery of higher-order neurological function in humans. Dr. Chang’s laboratory has demonstrated the detailed functional organization of the human speech cortex.  Dr. Chang is Co-Director of the Center for Neural Engineering & Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. He is principal investigator of the DARPA SUBNETS project to develop advanced therapies for neuropsychiatric conditions. He is the 2015 Blavatnik National Laureate in Life Sciences, and recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and HHMI Faculty Scholars.