Welcome to the Speech Perception and Production Lab at the University of Oregon. We conduct experimental research in an effort to understand the cognitive processes behind producing and understanding language, particularly words and speech sounds. Among the questions we pursue are the following:

  • The acoustics of speech are highly variable, influenced by nearby speech sounds as well as by speaker characteristics (age, sex, dialect, vocal tract shape, etc.). Yet despite this huge variability, listeners effortlessly decode the intended message most of the time. How do listeners map seemingly unreliable acoustics onto stable percepts that provide the building blocks for speech comprehension? What sort of information do they rely on, and how do they harness this information?
  • Every speaker acquires a mental lexicon as part of learning a language. More than just a list of vocabulary items, the lexicon is a highly structured network of statistical dependencies between units at various levels of organization (phrases, words, syllables, phonemes, and smaller). How is this structure reflected in speech production? Which statistical relationships facilitate the planning and execution of a given utterance? Which ones are inhibitory?
  • Speech perception and production are clearly linked, but each system also draws on separate cognitive mechanisms. To what extent are perception and production underpinned by the same cognitive architecture? How are they divergent? What are the consequences of their relationship for language acquisition?
  • Learning a second (or third, or fourth…) language is a monumental undertaking, especially for adults. Learners must extract the right structure from the L2 input, but they are initially guided by expectations imposed by the structure of their L1. How do learners negotiate this task? What does this learning process tell us about the nature of speech production and perception in general?

You can learn more about who we are and what we do by exploring the different sections of this site. If you are a University of Oregon undergraduate who is interested in language and looking for research experience, make sure to check out the Get Involved section. If you are a non-native English speaker willing to help us by serving as a paid study participant, please see the Participant Recruiting section.

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