The research undertaken in the department covers all aspects of speech communication: phonetics, articulation, sound generation, sound analysis, hearing, perception and phonological decoding. Broadly speaking we can identify two main research themes:
1. Human Vocal Communication
Vocal communication research covers the basic mechanisms of speech production and speech perception with a focus on vocal learning, and paralinguistic and extralinguistic influences on speech. Subtopics include:
- Social influences on speech – how the way we speak varies according to aspects of social interactions
- Effect of emotion, cognitive load or fatigue on voice - how voices change with different speaker states
- Vocal identity – how speakers are characterised by their voices and how listeners react to different voices
- Production modelling – quantitative modelling of articulatory mechanisms and acoustic-to-articulatory inversion
- Applications – connecting the science of vocal communication to applications through technology, such as tracking changes in speaker state through changes in voice, voice conversion, or lip synchronisation.
2. Production and Perception of Spoken Language
Production and perception of spoken language covers the communication of linguistically coded information through speaking and listening with a focus on the development of speech in children together with the study of speech variation under different circumstances. Subtopics include:
- Variation across the lifespan – development of speech in infants and children, changes in speaking habits and abilities across the lifespan
- Variation in challenging situations – strategies for improving intelligibility, reducing listening effort for speech communication in noisy, reverberant or other challenging listening environments.
- Variation in disordered populations – clarifying the effect of various disorders of speaking, hearing and cognition on speech communication; investigating and improving aids to communication.
- Neuroscience – understanding spoken language processing in the brain
- Variation in second language – assessment of pronunciation problems of second language speakers and training for improved L2 pronunciation
- Applications – audio-visual assessment of speech intelligibility in realistic environments, speech-specific signal processing for enhancement of intelligibility
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