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Enhancing the understanding of speech science

The faculty comprising the Speech Core within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders take a comprehensive look at speech perception and production.

Areas of research include stuttering, phonological disorders, dysarthria, motor speech, somatosensation, speech acoustics, bilingualism, and collaborative language use.

communication partners sit back to back to select spoken words from presented choices

Collaborative Language Use Lab

Principal Investigator: Annie Olmstead, Ph.D.

Studying Perceptual Learning for Speech, Collaborative Language Use, Speech Perception, Speech Production

This lab conducts behavioral research examining the influence of social context on speech and language use and learning in adults. Specifically, we focus on communication between individuals communicating with partners from different language or dialect backgrounds and partners with speech impairments.

Through this work, we are examining how specific social/communicative imperatives drive flexibility in speech production and perception. One aspect of flexibility that we focus on is perceptual learning for speech.


Experimental Phonetics Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Michael Robb, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Studying Stuttering, Early Vocal Development, Phonological Disorders

This lab focuses on acoustic, physiological, and phonetic features of normal and disordered speech production across the lifespan. We are engaged in international collaborations with researchers in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Kuwait.

Past and current research projects include (1) the influence of bilingualism and diglossia on normal and disfluent speech production, (2) the interaction of age and stuttering type on speech efficiency, (3) describing laryngeal-based phenomena in early vocal development among healthy and at-risk infants and (4) transgender voice and communication. Lab instrumentation includes acoustic analysis software, fNIRS system, acoustic pharyngometer, electromyographic and electrodermal analysis systems, and an electroglottograph.

two participants talk using headphones and computers

Speech, Language, and Cognition Lab

Principal Investigator: Navin Viswanathan, Ph.D.

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Studying Speech Perception, Speech Production, Bilingualism, Ecological Approaches to Studying Spoken Language Processes

In this lab, we study the social and cognitive factors that shape spoken language use. The overarching question that we seek to answer is how human interlocutors (listeners and speakers) demonstrate robust spoken communication despite a highly variable speech signal (due to different speakers, dialects, listening environments etc.). 

We study monolingual, bilingual, healthy, and those with communication disorders to improve our understanding of spoken language processes and inform interventions. We frequently collaborate with the Collaborative Language Use lab (Dr. Olmstead) in this enterprise. In addition, we also work with several researchers at the Center for Language Science to tackle a broad range of related questions (e.g., those of second language learning, codeswitching between languages etc.).

Dr. Lee prepares a participant for a research study

Speech Production Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Jimin Lee, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Studying Dysarthria, Articulatory Kinematics, Speech Acoustics, Speech Intelligibility

This lab seeks to understand why less comprehensible speech occurs by examining speech sound, tongue movement, and intelligibility. The long-term goal of the laboratory is to develop strategies to enhance speech intelligibility of individuals with dysarthria.

Research in this laboratory focuses on kinematic characteristics (with an emphasis on tongue and jaw movement) that influence speech intelligibility and acoustic variables in speakers with and without dysarthria. The Speech Production Laboratory is equipped with a portable 3 dimensional electromagnetic articulography (Wave system, Northern Digital Inc.). The system allows examining tongue movement with synchronized acoustic signals in a non-invasive and safe way.