Biologic processes underlying speech sound perception and learning have been addressed using the mismatch negativity (MMN) evoked response. First is a consideration of how the acoustic properties of the signal affect the neural mechanisms and brain regions engaged. Because the MMN differs depending on the acoustic characteristics of the stimuli used to elicit the response, it has been used to probe mechanisms underlying the neural representation of stimuli along the auditory pathway. Second is a consideration of neurophysiologic correlates of speech sound perception and learning. Detailed is a ‘behavioral-neurophysiologic, acoustic-phonetic approach’, used to link perception with underlying physiologic processes in humans. The focus here is on children and what has been learned about normal maturation of speech sound perception and its disruption in certain children with learning disorders. The last topic is a consideration of central nervous system changes with perceptual learning. This includes long-term experience with one’s native language and short-term auditory training in the laboratory. Limitations and future challenges are discussed.

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