Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Speech Communication

Speech Communication group investigates the neural basis of human speech processing. The group is led by Prof Sophie Scott.

Sophie Scott

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1144

Sophie Scott

Speech Communication Research

We study the neural basis of speech perception using PET and fMRI (picture attached). I use novel forms of speech such as noise vocoded speech to help control for aspects of the speech signal. I also use transformations that remove the intelligibility from speech without alerting the acoustic structure. The transformations are carried out with Praat and Matlab.

Group Members

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Sophie Meekings

Sophie Meeting

Typical speakers are astonishingly good at adapting their voices in response to subtle changes in the acoustic environment. I am interested in this ability and the neural systems underlying it. I am also interested in the often surprising effects that different acoustic environments have on people with dysfluency (stuttering). I am currently investigating the neural basis of energetic and informational masking effects on speech production in typical speakers, with plans to extend this investigation to the population of people who stutter

PhD Students

Ceci Qing Cai

Ceci Qing Cai

My research interests are in the processing of emotional vocalisation with laughter as the main focus, in particular its underlying neurocognitive mechanism. During my PhD, I would like to explore how the production and perception of laughter differ between neurotypical and clinical populations, such as people with autism. I will implement behavioural testing and neuroimaging approaches, including fNIRS and fMRI, in order to better understand the developmental trajectory of social emotional vocalisation and its use in establishing and maintaining social bonds within interactions.

Alexis Deighton Macintyre

Alexis Photo

I am interested in rhythm, that is, the complex patterning of time that emerges in human behaviour and cognition. As rhythm is a feature central to music, language, and motor skill learning, I take an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on how these activities may or may not be supported by a common neural architecture. During my doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Sophie Scott, my research will focus on embodiment and action to address the connection between timing and movement. Previously, I completed my MPhil at University of Cambridge with Dr. Ian Cross and was a Research Assistant to Dr. Jessica Grahn at the Brain and Mind Institute, Western University.

MSc/MRes Students

Addison Niemeyer

Addison Niemeyer

I am interested in the development of the neural circuits that underlie social behaviour disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASC). Specifically, I examine individual differences in the production and perception of non-verbal vocal communication using a variety of neurophysiological and behavioural measures

Affiliate Lab Members 

Cesar Lima

Cesar Lima

I am interested in how we communicate and perceive emotions via nonverbal cues, such as speech prosody, facial expressions, and nonverbal vocalizations (e.g., laughter, crying). I am also interested in how we process other kinds of emotional information, such as music. Current research topics include: (a) individual differences in emotion perception due to ageing, musical expertise, neurological conditions, or personality; (b) links between music and vocal emotions; (c) automatic and controlled mechanisms in emotion processing; and (d) perception of emotional authenticity in vocalizations. In my studies, I combine methods and techniques from experimental and cognitive psychology, acoustics, neuropsychology and, more recently, structural and functional MRI.