We are looking forward to Michelle and Eric’s visit!! Come see their talk on Mon, April 14, 2014 • 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM • CLA 1.302D


The UT Department of Linguistics

Presents a Colloquium;

Erick Gallun & Michelle Molis(Oregon Health and Science University)



“Measuring and modeling spectral change sensitivity in listeners with impaired hearing”

Speech is an inherently dynamic signal and listeners use changes in the acoustic signal as cues to phoneme identity. The loss of peripheral auditory sensitivity, precise temporal processing, and frequency selectivity associated with hearing impairment will disrupt the perception of spectral change resulting in reduced speech understanding. We are planning to assess the ability of a psychophysically-motivated metric of spectral change to model the perceptual auditory sensitivity of listeners with hearing impairment.  The model  incorporates the spectral and temporal consequences of hearing loss. Results will be presented from a spectral-ripple discrimination task used to evaluate listeners’ frequency-resolving power, and the application of task outcomes to model development will be discussed.


Michelle R. Molis
Assistant Research Professor, Dept. of Otolaryngology
Oregon Health & Science University
Research Investigator, National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research
Portland VA Medical Center

Frederick J. Gallun
Associate Professor, Dept. of Otolaryngology and Neuroscience Graduate Program
Oregon Health & Science University
Research Investigator, National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research
Portland VA Medical Center

Speech Prosody 2014!

Niamh’s paper “Monosyllabic Lexical Pitch Contrasts in Norwegian”‘ has been accepted for presentation at the Speech Prosody conference in Dublin! Niamh has been away this semester working hard in Europe collecting her dissertation data :)  This work is supported by the NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant.

Funding for ASA travel!

I am so pleased that Belle, Karen, Gaby, Maddie and Rachael, all got travel funds to go to the ASA meeting in Rhode Island from the IE program at UT!! Congratulations all!! You can find more information about this excellent program that allows undergraduate and graduate students to gain more experience doing research and mentoring  at http://moody.utexas.edu/ie/

Congratulations to Rachael for successfully defending her dissertation proposal: ” The Effect of Age on Speaking Style Adaptations.” Lots of great feedback from the committee!

Also, Rachael, Belle, Karen, and Suzanne got the abstracts accepted for the ASA meeting this spring. See you in Providence!

MIQUEL SIMONET, University of Arizona

Tuesday, February 4 / 4:00 PM / BEN  2.104

“Interlingual phonetic interactions are pliable”

ABSTRACT: People who learn a second language are likely to retain a nonnative accent even after years of practice. The characteristics of this accent are typically attributed to the first or native language of the speaker, so that the accents of learners who share a native language differ from native norms in systematic, predictable ways. This suggests that the native and nonnative language sound (sub)systems interact in the mind of bilinguals. What is the nature of interlingual phonetic interactions? In this talk I report on the results of two phonetic experiments on proficient, sequential bilinguals. The findings show that interlingual phonetic interactions are affected by the communicative setting in which languages are produced, which suggests that interactions are modulated by the activation strength of nodes during the process of speech production. In this talk I explore the hypothesis that the two languages of a bilingual are activated in a non-selective manner during processing, which in turn impacts phonetic and phonological behavior in these speakers. I discuss the theoretical implications of this hypothesis, as well as some avenues for further research.

We are very excited to have Alex Francis visit the department next Monday!! Come to his talk!

Mon, January 27, 2014 • 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM • CLA 1.302E

Older adults and listeners with hearing impairment often find it exhausting to listen to speech in background noise, even when they are successful at it. An example of a common complaint is “I don’t like to go to restaurants anymore, it’s just to tiring to understand what people are saying.”  According to the effortfulness hypothesis, sub-clinical hearing deficits may increase cognitive demand for speech understanding, making listening in noise more effortful even when recognition performance remains. Even for typically hearing listeners, separating speech from background noise requires both segregating target speech from masking signals and selectively attending to the target while ignoring maskers. Both segregation and selection may demand cognitive resources, but it is not clear how these demands might interact with either age or hearing impairment. To begin to address this issue, it is necessary to measure listening effort independently from intelligibility, and under conditions that put relatively more emphasis on segregation vs. selection. Here I will report preliminary results from a study measuring listening effort behaviorally via traditional rating scales (NASA TLX), and psychophysiologically in terms of autonomic nervous system responses (pulse period and amplitude, and skin conductance). Listeners heard and repeated sentences under conditions in which performance is dominated by energetic masking (speech masked by broad-band noise), or informational masking (speech masked by two-talker babble), and also when listening to cognitively demanding speech without masking (synthetic speech).

Congratulations, Rachael! “Recognition memory in noise for speech of varying intelligibility” appeared in the January issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America!  The paper  provides new evidence that the listener- and environment-oriented speaking style changes (clear speech and noise-adapted/Lombard speech) improve sentence recognition memory compared to conversational speech and speech produced in quiet. More intelligible speech—even when presented in challenging listening situations, i.e., in noise—allowed for better speech recognition memory. Effortful speech processing in challenging listening environments can be improved by speaking style adaptations on the part of the talker.


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