Psycholinguistics Laboratory

Dept. of Psychology, Trinity College

Psycholinguistics Laboratory


The projects in the lab are centered around two main themes:

Improving speech understanding for people with hearing loss

Speech perception is the primary means by which we connect with other talkers (in oral language settings) – the means by which we hear and understand those around us. For people with acquired hearing loss, however, perceiving speech can be a challenge, and difficulties can lead to social isolation and depression. Technologies such as hearing aids and cochlear implants provide benefits, yet simply having one of these devices is often not enough. Auditory training rehabilitation programs aim to improve people’s ability to understand spoken language using short, computer-based training sessions. My research in this area has been focused on finding ways to improve the success of these interventions by taking advantage of learning principles from Cognitive Psychology and making them as interesting and engaging as possible for users to complete.

The nature of the links between speaking and listening (or feeling or seeing…)

People often think of talking as separate from listening, or acting as separate from sensing, but the two are intimately related. Babies need to hear themselves babble in order to acquire normal speech, for example, and people talk very differently when they’re listening to earbuds at full volume than they do without the competing music. For this project, we recreate these situations in the lab – alter the way a talker can hear themselves (e.g. change the loudness, pitch, or timing) and record what happens in response. We’ve simulated profound hearing loss, for example, as well as conditions like talking over speakerphone.

We also push the boundaries of perception/production links. In traditional laboratory tasks like reading words and sentences from a computer screen, for example, we know that what you hear affects how you speak, but only a little bit; small adjustments to pitch or loudness or accent are observed with changes in acoustic feedback, but not usually dramatic ones. The specific degree of change appears to be related, however, to both what is being altered in the acoustic feedback and the circumstances of talking – the “why” or “who” that causes a person to talk. We’re aiming to explore this second area further, and also push ourselves to take seriously the relationships across the senses – not just hearing oneself talk, but also feeling oneself and even seeing oneself.


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