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Toward a realistic model of speech processing in the brain with self-supervised learning
Juliette MILLET · Charlotte Caucheteux · pierre orhan · Yves Boubenec · Alexandre Gramfort · Ewan Dunbar · Christophe Pallier · Jean-Remi King

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #524

Several deep neural networks have recently been shown to generate activations similar to those of the brain in response to the same input. These algorithms, however, remain largely implausible: they require (1) extraordinarily large amounts of data, (2) unobtainable supervised labels, (3) textual rather than raw sensory input, and / or (4) implausibly large memory (e.g. thousands of contextual words). These elements highlight the need to identify algorithms that, under these limitations, would suffice to account for both behavioral and brain responses. Focusing on speech processing, we here hypothesize that self-supervised algorithms trained on the raw waveform constitute a promising candidate. Specifically, we compare a recent self-supervised model, wav2vec 2.0, to the brain activity of 412 English, French, and Mandarin individuals recorded with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), while they listened to approximately one hour of audio books. First, we show that this algorithm learns brain-like representations with as little as 600 hours of unlabelled speech -- a quantity comparable to what infants can be exposed to during language acquisition. Second, its functional hierarchy aligns with the cortical hierarchy of speech processing. Third, different training regimes reveal a functional specialization akin to the cortex: wav2vec 2.0 learns sound-generic, speech-specific and language-specific representations similar to those of the prefrontal and temporal cortices. Fourth, we confirm the similarity of this specialization with the behavior of 386 additional participants. These elements, resulting from the largest neuroimaging benchmark to date, show how self-supervised learning can account for a rich organization of speech processing in the brain, and thus delineate a path to identify the laws of language acquisition which shape the human brain.

Author Information

Juliette MILLET (Université Paris Cite)
Charlotte Caucheteux (Meta AI / Inria)
pierre orhan (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris)
Yves Boubenec (École Normale Supérieure)
Alexandre Gramfort (Meta)
Ewan Dunbar (University of Toronto)
Christophe Pallier
Jean-Remi King (CNRS)

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