Linda Polka


linda.polka [at] (Email)

Speech Perception Lab


BA Psychology, Slippery Rock State College
MA Experimental Psychology, University of Minnesota
PhD Psychology & Human Communication Disorders, University of South Florida

Research interest

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. My lab is engaged in two overlapping lines of research; one focuses on the development of vowel perception and production during infancy and the other explores how language experience shapes infant perception of phonetic segments and processing of fluent connected speech in monolingual and bilingual infants. In current work we are also investigating the role of talker variability in adult and infant perception, including studies that explore how infants perceive speech produced by an infant talker.

Representative Publications

Polka, L., Bohn, O-S. & Weiss, D. J. (2015).  Commentary – Revisiting vocal perception in non-human animals: A review of vowel discrimination, speaker voice recognition and speaker normalization, Frontiers in Psychology, Language Sciences, volume 6, article 941 doi: 10.3389


Polka, L., Masapollo, M. & Menard, L. (2014) Who’s talking now? Infant perception of vowels with infant vocal properties, Psychological Science, 25, 1448-1456.

Orena, A.J., Theodore, R. & Polka, L. (2015) Language exposure facilitates talker learning prior to language comprehension, even in adults, Cognition, 143, 36-40.

Masapollo, M, Polka, L. & Menard, L. (2015).  When infants, talk infants Listen: Pre-babbling infants prefer listening to speech with infant vocal properties, Developmental Science. pp 1–11 DOI: 10.1111/desc.12298

Bohn, O-S. & Polka, L. (2014) Fast phonetic learning in very young infants: What it shows and what it doesn’t show, Frontiers in Psychology Language Science, 5, 1-2.

Molnar, M., Baum, S., Polka, L. & Steinhauer, K. (2014) Learning two languages from birth shapes the pre-attentive processing of speech: Electrophysiological correlates of vowel discrimination in monolinguals and simultaneous bilinguals, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, DOI: 10.1017/S136672891300062X.

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.

Polka, L. & Bohn, O-S. (2011) Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) framework: An emerging view of early phonetic development, Journal of Phonetics, 39, 467-478

Mattock, K, Polka, L, & Rvachew, S., & Krehm, M. (2010) The first steps in word learning are easier when the shoes fit: Comparing monolingual and bilingual infants, Developmental Science, 13:1 229-243.

Shahnaz, N., Miranda, T. & Polka, L. (2008) Multi-frequency tympanometry in neonatal intensive care unit & well babies, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 19 (5), 392-418

Rvachew, S. Alhaidary, A. Mattock, K. & Polka, L. (2008), Emergence of corner vowels in the babble produced by infants exposed to Canadian English or Canadian French, Journal of Phonetics, 36, 564-577.

Polka, L. Rvachew, S. & Molnar, M. (2008). Speech perception by 6- to 8-month-olds in the presence of distracting sound, Infancy, 13 (5) 421-439.

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