Cross linguistic studies on spoken language processing. Completed NIH Grant (Keith Johnson)
The long-term objective of this research project
is to understand human spoken language processing (particularly speech
perception and auditory word recognition) in linguistic
context. Speech signals are unique in human experience because they
are highly familiar, and have great practical significance in daily
life. Therefore, it is not too surprising to find that people develop
optimized processing strategies tuned specifically for speech. In this
work we study how this tuning process may be sensitive to linguistic
structure. Cross-linguistic spoken language research is important
because without it we are in danger of concluding that the phenomena
found in one language (or even dialect) are somehow normative for
speakers of other languages. Such a narrow understanding of 'normal'
spoken language processing is likely to have a negative impact on
clinical speech and hearing practice in a pluralistic society.
Visual phonetic aspects of sound change. NSF Grant (Keith Johnson)
Using movies of speech, in which we manipulate the phonetic
information in both the audio and video tracks, we are studying the
role of visual information in perceptual confusions (and
non-confusions) that may be involved in sound change. In this project
we have developed capacity for high-quality audio-video recording of
speech, for taking phonetic measurements from movies, and for
conducting audio-visual speech perception experiments.
Using a combination of ultrasound articulator imaging and measurement
of aerodynamic properties, we are studying the production of complex
Phonetic Neuroscience (Keith Johnson & Matthias
With collaborators at UCSF, we are using
electrocorticography to document detailed patterns of neural activity
during speech production and perception.
student research support
Students have successfully sought funding for their
research from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes
of Health, the UC Berkeley Graduate Division, the UC Berkeley Council
of Graduate Students, the Abigail Hodgen Fund for Women in the Social
Sciences, and of course, the Department of Linguistics.
Phonetics research at UC Berkeley is generously supported by
an endowment - the Holbook fund. This fund makes it possible to periodically buy workstations and equipment for general phonetic research.
Research collaborations exist with several colleagues at Berkeley
and in the Bay Area.
Professor John Houde (UCSF) works with students in the lab and sits in
on seminars when time permits. He studies sensory-motor adaptation in
speech and the neural correlates of speech perception and speech motor
Dr. Edward Chang (UCSF) collaborates with Prof. Johnson and works with
students in the lab. He studies the neurophysiology of speech
production and perception.
Professor Nelson Morgan (Department of Electrical Engineering, ICSI)
is valuable colleage and teacher. His research specialization is in
automatic speech recognition. He hosts the weekly ICSI "speech
Professor Dan Klein (Department of Computer Science) specializes in
natural language processing. We've collaborated with him to make
speech corpora available via the Berkeley Language Center.