Making words disappear or appear: A neurocognitive and behavioral investigation of effects of speech rate on spoken word recognition

Project: Research project

Project Details


Understanding how humans comprehend speech is an unsolved and challenging problem, in part because factors such as different speakers, dialects, and speaking rates introduce a great deal of temporal and spectral variability into the speech signal. The focus of this research is on the influence of temporal context on perception of segments, syllables, and words. Results of the research may offer insights into treatment of disorders that involve disruption of speech rate (e.g., dysarthria, stuttering, Parkinson's disease, and aphasia), inform approaches to improve speech technology applications (e.g., enhanced automatic speech recognition, more natural sounding computer-generated speech), and lead to new discoveries related to brain mechanisms involved in understanding spoken language. The investigators will also involve students in the research, including those from a primarily undergraduate institution collaborating on the project.

The investigators will test different accounts of temporal phenomena in the perception of speech. They propose two interacting cognitive mechanisms controlling phenomena at lexical and phonetic levels, each driven by a different neural timing mechanism. The hypothesis is that effects of lexical rate primarily stem from top-down, speech-specific temporal expectancies, while phonetic rate effects originate in bottom-up, transient rhythmic expectations that are not specific to speech. This hypothesis will be assessed using psychoacoustic studies, non-invasive measures of brain activity, and theoretical modeling in order to identify the processing characteristics revealed by neural representations of temporal properties of speech.

Effective start/end date9/1/157/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $58,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.