Studying speech using the divide-and-conquer method [Review of the book Neural Control of Speech, by F. H. Guenther]
Classical models of speech production have primarily focused on the psycholinguistic aspects
of the process, identifying its components (i. e., meaning generation, lexical selection, functional assignment, phonological encoding and articulation) and how they interact [Bock, Levelt 1994; Dell, Change, Griffin 1999; Fromkin 1973; Garrett 1975 et al.]. This integral approach has pro- vided us with a solid conceptual understanding of the various processes involved at every stage of speech production, suggesting, however, that each of these stages is likely to have its own unique operational mechanisms. Thus, a more detailed exploration of each of these individual components of the speech production system is now required to build more refined and realis- tic models of speech production, reflecting how this multicomponent task of communication is orchestrated by the brain. For example, the articulation of speech needs to be studied separately from the lexical selection process because each relies on its own specific set of neuroanatomical structures and has its individual mechanisms of functioning and pathogenesis. “Neural Control of Speech” by F. H. Guenther is a brilliant attempt to tackle the problem using the “divide and conquer” approach.