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Faculty Research Themes

The SCSD faculty investigate questions of human speech and language in a wide variety of populations, at many different levels of analysis, using a number of complementary methods. Below you can search for a potential supervisor by faculty member, or you can use the links on the side to survey faculty research interests and expertise with respect to Populations of Interest, Level of Analysis, and Methods employed.

Our research is conducted with learners/speakers of a variety of languages other than English; given our setting in Quebec much research is conducted in French, but ongoing studies are also being conducted in Icelandic, Cantonese, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi, among other languages.

 

Neurolinguistics and Speech Science

Dr. Shari Baum

Research interests focus on two main areas: neurolinguistics and speech science. A primary goal of Dr. Baum’s research is to ascertain the neural substrates of various aspects of language processing, including word recognition, speech and prosodic production and perception, and sentence processing. To this end, Dr. Baum is utilizing ERP, TMS and fMRI paradigms, as well as conducting behavioural studies with brain-damaged patients. Research on aspects of normal speech motor control is also underway, including kinematic and acoustic studies of speech adaptation to perturbation.

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Latest publications

Baum, S. R., & Titone, D. (2014). Moving toward a neuroplasticity view of bilingualism, executive control, and aging. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(Special Issue 05), 857-894.

Bourguignon, N. J., Baum, S. R., & Shiller, D. M. (2014). Lexical-perceptual integration influences sensorimotor adaptation in speech. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 208.

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Speech Perception, Production and Learning

Dr. Meghan Clayards

Dr. Clayards' research interests are in speech perception, online auditory word recognition, acoustic phonetics and learning. She uses acoustic analysis of speech to look at patterns of variability in acoustic-phonetic cues and perception and training studies to see how that variability affects speech processing. Eye-tracking and the visual world paradigm are used to investigate how acoustic phonetic cues are integrated in real time during on-line word recognition. Current projects are also investigating the effects of variability on word learning in toddlers and adult second language learners.

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Latest publications

Brosseau-Lapré, F., Rvachew, S., Clayards, M., Dickson, D.) (2013). Stimulus variability and perceptual learning of non-native vowel categories. Applied Psycholinguistics. 34 (3), 419-441

Niebuhr, O., Clayards, M., Meunier, C., & Lancia, L. (2011) On place assimilation within sibilant sequences – comparing French and English. Journal of Phonetics 39, 429-451

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Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Neuroscience


Dr. Laura Gonnerman

My two main areas of interest are:
       1.) the structure of the lexical semantic system
       2.) the representation and processing of morphologically complex words in English and other languages
To explore these areas, I use a combination of research in normal adult processing, language loss in Alzheimer's disease and other disorders, connectionist modeling, and imaging.
  • Language and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

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Latest publications

Blais, M-J., & Gonnerman, L.M. (2013). Explicit and implicit semantic processing of verb-particle constructions by French-English bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16, 829-846.

Rvachew, S., Marquis, A., Brosseau-Lapré, F., Paul, M., Royle, P., Gonnerman, L.M.(2013). Speech articulation performance of francophone children in the early school years: Norming of the Test de Dépistage Francophone de Phonologie. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 27, 950-968.

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Speech Motor Control

Dr. Vincent Gracco

My research focuses on the neuroscience of human communication using multiple neuroimaging modalities and physiological techniques. Current research areas focus on the development and mechanisms of sensorimotor control for spoken language, sensorimotor dysfunctions associated with stuttering and other speech motor disorders, neuroplasticity and sensorimotor learning, bilingualism and the relationship between language and music. Dr. Gracco is the Director of the multidisciplinary Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music at McGill.

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Latest publications

Tremblay, P., Deschamps, I., & Gracco, V.L.) (2013) Regional heterogeneity in the processing and the production of speech in the human planum temporale. Cortex, 49: 143-157

Beal, D., Gracco, V.L., Brettschneider, J., Kroll, R.M., DeNil,L.) (2013). A voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis of regional grey and white matter volume abnormalities within the speech production network of children who stutter. Cortex, 49: 2151-2161.

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Voice Disorders, Vocal Fold Inflammation and Wound Healing

Dr. Nicole Yee-Key Li

Dr. Li’s laboratory integrates in vitro, in vivo and in silico (computational) approaches to study vocal fold biology and wound healing. The research goal is to generate a computational platform that can guide surgeons and speech pathologists in the best methods to repair voices that have been lost. Current projects focus on what cells and proteins drive the vocal fold injury and repair after surgical and vocal trauma, along with the roles of biomechanical stress in cellular and tissue adaptation. Our lab uses agent-based modeling to simulate patient-specific vocal trauma and repair response in computers. In addition, we work in collaboration with engineers and surgeons to develop non-invasive assessment of vocal fold pathology and create biomaterial for vocal fold reconstruction.

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Latest publications

Heris, H. K., Miri, A. K., Ghattamaneni, N. R., Li, N. Y. K., Thibeault, S. L., Wiseman, P. W., & Mongeau, L. (2015). Microstructural and mechanical characterization of scarred vocal folds. Journal of Biomechanics.

Miri, A. K., Li, N. Y. K., Avazmohammadi, R., Thibeault, S. L., Mongrain, R., & Mongeau, L. (2015). Study of extracellular matrix in vocal fold biomechanics using a two-phase model. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 14, 49-57.

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Discourse Processing, Pragmatic Development, Communications in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Aparna Nadig

My research focuses on pragmatic development, social communication, and language and communication in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. I am especially interested in how we use multiple sources of information (visual, prosodic, from previous discourse, about our conversational partner) to arrive at a speaker’s intended meaning, and how we do this in real time, and what characteristics underlie this ability.

Current work in my lab examines:

  • early word learning processes in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and in typical development prosody and conversational interaction in pre-adolescent speakers with ASD
  • the efficacy of our newly-developed Transition Support Program for young adults with ASD (in collaboration with Prof. Tara Flanagan, McGill Educational and Counselling Psychology)
  • infants’ learning about objects from social cues versus repeated exposure (in collaboration with Prof. Kristine Onishi, McGill Psychology)

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Latest publications

Nadig, A., & Shaw, H. (Published online 18 Dec 2012). Acoustic marking of prominence: How do preadolescent speakers with and without high-functioning autism mark contrast in an interactive task? Language and Cognitive Processes.

Bang, J., Burns, J. & Nadig, A. (2013). Conveying subjectivity in conversation: Mental state terms and personal narratives in typical development and children with high functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43 (7), 1732-1740.

Bani Hani, H., Gonzalez-Barrero, A. & Nadig, A. (2013). Children’s referential understanding of novel words and parent labelling behaviours: similarities across children with and without autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Language, 40 (5), 971-1002.

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Neuropragmatics and Emotions, Social Cognitive Neuroscience

Dr. Marc Pell

Research in the Pell Lab is motivated by the following goals: to understand how adults communicate nonverbal and nonliteral meanings in spoken language, especially those meanings which refer to a speaker's emotions, attitudes, or other social intentions while speaking; to establish how acquired diseases of the brain, such as stroke or Parkinson's disease, affect these communicative functions and related pragmatic skills; and to describe the neuro-cognitive substrates which appear to support these expressive and receptive language abilities.

We are approaching our goals through behavioural and acoustic studies of healthy adults and through neuropsychological evaluation of brain-damaged adults with suspected difficulties in emotional communicaton and pragmatic language processing. Currently, much of our research is focussed on the role of emotional prosody (i.e. voice tone) in speech communication, although related work on how adults process emotional facial expressions and certain nonliteral forms of language (e.g. sarcasm, metaphors) is also underway

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Latest publications

Garrido-Vásquez, P., Pell, M.D., Paulmann, S., Strecker, K., Schwarz, J., & Kotz, S.A.) (2013). An ERP study of vocal emotion processing in asymmetric Parkinson's disease. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8 (8), 918-927.

Rigoulot, S., Wassiliwizky, E., & Pell, M.D. (2013). Feeling backwards? How temporal order in speech affects the time course of vocal emotion recognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-14. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00367.

Pell, M.D., Robin, J., & Paulmann, S. (2012). How quickly do listeners recognize emotional prosody in their native versus a foreign language? Speech Prosody 6th International Conference Proceedings, Shanghai, China.

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Development of Speech Perception

Dr. Linda Polka

Research in the Polka lab focuses on the development of speech perception during infancy. The goal of this work is to understand the skills and biases that the infants bring to this task and how their speech processing changes with age and language experience to support language processing. We are currently engaged in research involving infants between 4 and 18 monhs of age on vowel perception and production, the effects of early bilingualism and the role of attention in speech processing.

  • Speech Perception Lab

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Latest publications

Nazzi, T., Mersad, K., Sundara, M., Iakimova, G., & Polka, L. (2013). Early word segmentation in infants acquiring Parisian French: task-dependent and dialect-specific aspects, Journal of Child Language, 1-24.

Polka, L. & Sundara, M. (2012). Word segmentation in monolingual infants acquiring Canadian English and Canadian French: Native language, cross-language, and cross-dialect comparisons, Infancy, 17(2), 198-232.

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Phonological Development and Disorders

Dr. Susan Rvachew

Research interests are focused on phonological development and disorders with specific research topics including: the role of speech perception development in sound production learning; speech development in infancy; efficacy of interventions for phonological disorders; and computer applications in the treatment of phonological disorders. Current projects include a longitudinal investigation of deficits in phonological awareness skills in pre-schoolers with delayed phonological development, relationship between auditory attention and babbling skills in infants with early onset otitis media, and cross-linguistic differences in the acoustic characteristics of vowels produced by infants.

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Latest publications

Rvachew, S., Marquis, A., Brosseau‐Lapré, F., Royle, P., Paul, M., & Gonnerman, L. M. (2013). Speech articulation performance of francophone children in the early school years: Norming of the Test de Dépistage Francophone de Phonologie. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, Early Online, 1‐19.

Brosseau‐Lapré, F., & Rvachew, S. (2013). Cross‐linguistic comparison of speech errors produced by English‐ and French‐speaking preschool age children with developmental phonological disorders. International Journal of Speech‐Language Pathology, Early Online, 1‐11.

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Psycholinguistics and Neurocognition of Language

Dr. Karsten Steinhauer

Research interests lie primarily in the areas of psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience. Current projects focus on the neural organization and temporal online dynamics of processes underlying language perception, particularly using event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and other brain imaging techniques. This includes interactions among syntactic, semantic, morphological and (overt or covert) prosodic information in listeners and readers, as well as links between speech and music processing. In addition, Dr. Steinhauer's work addresses issues of bilingualism and second language acquisition in adults, investigating both natural languages and a highly controlled artificial language. A more recent research program investigates the brain mechanisms underlying formal as compared to conceptual semantics, combining ERP and fMRI techniques.

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Latest publications

Steinhauer, K. (2014). Event-related potentials (ERPs) in second language research: A brief introduction to the technique, a selected review, and an invitation to reconsider critical periods in L2. Applied Linguistics 35 (4), 393-417.

Molnar, M., Polka, L., Baum, S., & Steinhauer, K. (2014). Learning two languages from birth shapes the pre-attentive process of speech perception: Electrophysiological correlates of vowel discrimination in monolingual and simultaneous bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17, 526-541. [BLC-12-RA—0090]

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Child Language Development and Disorders

Dr. Elin Thordardottir

Language development and language disorders in children with emphasis on assessment and intervention. In particular: language development and language disorders in children speaking English, French and Icelandic, and bilingual children; development of language assessment tools and methods for children speaking French and Icelandic, and for bilingual children; cross-linguistic comparison of normal and impaired language development; intervention methods for monolingual and bilingual children.
  • Child Language Development & Disorders Lab

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Latest publications

(Thordardottir, E. & Brandeker, M.) (2013). The effect of bilingual exposure versus language impairment on nonword repetition and sentence imitation scores. Journal of Communication Disorders, 46, 1-16.

Elin Thordardottir & Anna Gudrun Juliusdottir (2012). Icelandic as a second language: A longitudinal study of language knowledge and processing by school-age children. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1-25. DOI:10.10801/ 13670050.2012.693062.

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