Current Projects

Perceptual Learning of Voice and Accent.

This project is designed to examine the role of talker and accent familiarity in spoken language. We have been studying how perceptual learning of particular talker’s style of speech influences listeners’ ability to understand the linguistic content of these utterances.

Sound Symbolism.

fMRI image of sound symbolic neural activity

This project explores instances of linguistic reference that involve non-arbitrary relationships between linguistic symbol and real world reference. We are exploring the extent to which aspects of linguistic form resemble external referents in natural languages and the implications of this kind of sound symbolism for language representation and use.

Prosody and Meaning.


This project is designed to examine the influence of tone of voice on spoken word recognition. We are interested in the integration of meaningful prosody, both emotional and non-emotional, with the semantic content of words and sentences. Of particular interest is how and at what point in the processing of spoken words listeners integrate tone of voice with linguistic content and whether this integration helps listeners to infer word meaning.

Social Expectations and Spoken Language Use.

This project examines the ways in which social expectations or stereotypes influence spoken language communication.  We are interested in the expectations that are formed when hearing talker- and group-specific properties of spoken language and how these expectations influences ongoing language processing and representation.  Of particular interest is the extent to which social expectations influences our tendency to vocally accommodate or imitate conversational partners.