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Phonetics Laboratory

"Phonetics lab members."

The Phonetics Laboratory provides state-of-the-art resources and tools for the study of the acoustics, perception, and neural representations of speech and other sounds.

The principal focus of our research is how listeners perceive speech, how their perception of speech is influenced by what they know about their language, and how their perception of speech might influence the phonology of their language. We also use electroencephalograpy to study the neural representations of speech sounds.

A technique used in nearly all our studies is manipulating the context in which a target speech sound occurs to test hypotheses about how the target's perception is influenced by that context. The context might make one percept of the target more likely than an alternative because that percept:

  • Makes a word with the context,
  • Is phonotactically legal in that context,
  • Differs from or resembles that context,

but the alternative percept does none of these things.

The experiments use either categorization or discrimination tasks to test the effects of these manipulations of the target sound's context.

We also use non-speech analogues, i.e., sounds that resemble speech sounds acoustically but which are not recognized as speech, to test the extent to which general rather than speech-specific mechanisms determine listeners' percepts.


The Phonetics Laboratory comprises four rooms in the Integrative Learning Center:

  1. N443: This room contains 4 machines equipped with desktop computers, headphones, and 3-button controllers (buttonboxes).
  2. N445: An adjacent room from which the perception experiments are run using a desktop computer.
  3. N446: A room where EEG experiments are run.
  4. N448: A room with a single-walled, sound-attentuating booth for recording and digitizing directly to computer.

The computers in the N443 and N445 all run the Linux operating system. Experiments are run using PsychToolBox scripts. Other software includes Praat, R, RStudio, and Octave.


John Kingston: Director

Kristine Yu: Faculty

Bethany Dickerson: Graduate student

Emily Smith: Research assistant

Aneesh Naik: Research assistant

Shrayana Haldar: Research assistant

Carly Longman: Research assistant

Andrew Cunningham: Research assistant