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In Frontiers in systems neuroscience

Recent deep-learning artificial neural networks have shown remarkable success in recognizing natural human speech, however the reasons for their success are not entirely understood. Success of these methods might be because state-of-the-art networks use recurrent layers or dilated convolutional layers that enable the network to use a time-dependent feature space. The importance of time-dependent features in human cortical mechanisms of speech perception, measured by electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), have also been of particular recent interest. It is possible that recurrent neural networks (RNNs) achieve their success by emulating aspects of cortical dynamics, albeit through very different computational mechanisms. In that case, we should observe commonalities in the temporal dynamics of deep-learning models, particularly in recurrent layers, and brain electrical activity (EEG) during speech perception. We explored this prediction by presenting the same sentences to both human listeners and the Deep Speech RNN and considered the temporal dynamics of the EEG and RNN units for identical sentences. We tested whether the recently discovered phenomenon of envelope phase tracking in the human EEG is also evident in RNN hidden layers. We furthermore predicted that the clustering of dissimilarity between model representations of pairs of stimuli would be similar in both RNN and EEG dynamics. We found that the dynamics of both the recurrent layer of the network and human EEG signals exhibit envelope phase tracking with similar time lags. We also computed the representational distance matrices (RDMs) of brain and network responses to speech stimuli. The model RDMs became more similar to the brain RDM when going from early network layers to later ones, and eventually peaked at the recurrent layer. These results suggest that the Deep Speech RNN captures a representation of temporal features of speech in a manner similar to human brain.

Hashemnia Saeedeh, Grasse Lukas, Soni Shweta, Tata Matthew S


EEG, RNN, artificial neural network, auditory, recurrent, speech tracking, theta