UCL Psychology and Language Sciences

Prof Patti Adank

Prof Patti Adank

Professor of Speech Perception and Production

Speech, Hearing & Phonetic Sciences

Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jun 2013

Research summary

My research focuses on the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the robustness and flexibility of human spoken language The acoustic speech signal is inherently variable, for instance due to background noise, differences in speakers’ anatomy and physiology, speaking style, regional or socio-economic background, or language background. Yet speech perception remains remarkably stable, and listeners are even able to quickly adapt to novel variation sources of the acoustic signal, such as a speaker’s foreign or regional accent.


I combine behavioural and neuroimaging research. My behavioural research consists of studies on speech perception and production  and my neuroimaging research focuses on the neural bases of on-line adaptation in spoken language comprehension and production. Past neuroimaging studies have reported the involvement of neural bases for speech production in speech comprehension tasks. However, this involvement is only present under adverse listening conditions, such as speech in noise, or when the signal has been distorted, for instance by time-compressing it. In my research I test the possibility that this involvement of production regions is specific to on-line adaptation and learning and underlies the robustness of human speech comprehension. My present and future research uses traditional psycholinguistic paradigms, and functional neuroimaging methods such as fMRI, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.


Recently, I got interested in the role of vocal imitation in speech and am exploring the possibility that both overt and covert imitation may optimises speech perception.


Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2005
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2003
Universiteit Utrecht
Other higher degree, Master of Arts | 1997


1997   Master of Arts in Experimental Phonetics, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands
2003   Doctor of Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
2006   Master of Science Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006