speech perception

Two post-doc positions available in our lab

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We are searching for two outstanding post-doctoral researchers to join our lab. Both positions offer competitive NIH-level post-doctoral salaries for up to 3 years, an annual travel budget, and moving expenses. The lab has a good record at job placement, with three of the four most recent post-docs now holding tenure-track positions in linguistics or psychology.
  • Project 1: Inference and learning during speech perception and adaptation
  • Project 2: Web-based self-administered speech therapy

Although we mention preferred specializations below, applicants from any fields in the cognitive and language sciences are welcome. While candidates will join an active project, candidates are welcome/encouraged to also develop their own independent research program.  In case of doubt, please contact Florian Jaeger at fjaeger@bcs.rochester.edu, rather than to self-select not to apply.

Interested candidates should contact HLP lab manager Olga Nikolayeva (onikolay@u.rochester.edu) along with:

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Speech perception and generalization across talkers

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We recently submitted a research review on “Speech perception and generalization across talkers and accents“, which provides an overview of the critical concepts and debates in this domain of research. This manuscript is still under review, but we wanted to share the current version. Of couse, feedback is always welcome.

In this paper, we review the mixture of processes that enable robust understanding of speech across talkers despite the lack of invariance. These processes include (i) automatic pre-speech adjustments of the distribution of energy over acoustic frequencies (normalization); (ii) sensitivity to category-relevant acoustic cues that are invariant across talkers (acoustic invariance); (iii) sensitivity to articulatory/gestural cues, which can be perceived directly (audio-visual integration) or recovered from the acoustic signal (articulatory recovery); (iv) implicit statistical learning of talker-specific properties (adaptation, perceptual recalibration); and (v) the use of past experiences (e.g., specific exemplars) and structured knowledge about pronunciation variation (e.g., patterns of variation that exist across talkers with the same accent) to guide speech perception (exemplar-based recognition, generalization).

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CUNY 2015 plenary

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As requested by some, here are the slides from my 2015 CUNY Sentence Processing Conference plenary last week:

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I’m posting them here for discussion purposes only. During the Q&A several interesting points were raised. For example Read the rest of this entry »

HLP Lab at CUNY 2015

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We hope to see y’all at CUNY in a few weeks. In the interest of hopefully luring to some of our posters, here’s an overview of the work we’ll be presenting. In particular, we invite our reviewers, who so boldly claimed (but did not provide references for the) triviality of our work ;), to visit our posters and help us mere mortals understand.

  • Articulation and hyper-articulation
  • Unsupervised and supervised learning during speech perception
  • Syntactic priming and implicit learning during sentence comprehension
  • Uncovering the biases underlying language production through artificial language learning

Interested in more details? Read on. And, as always, I welcome feedback. (to prevent spam, first time posters are moderated; after that your posts will always directly show)

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Speech recognition: Recognizing the familiar, generalizing to the similar, and adapting to the novel

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At long last, we have finished a substantial revision of Dave Kleinschmidt‘s opus “Robust speech perception: Recognize the familiar, generalize to the similar, and adapt to the novel“. It’s still under review, but we’re excited about it and wanted to share what we have right now.

Phonetic recalibration via belief updating
Figure 1: Modeling changes in phonetic classification as belief updating. After repeatedly hearing a VOT that is ambiguous between /b/ and /p/ but occurs in a word where it can only be a /b/, listeners change their classification of that sound, calling it a /b/ much more often. We model this as a belief updating process, where listeners track the underlying distribution of cues associated with the /b/ and /p/ categories (or the generative model), and then use their beliefs about those distributions to guide classification behavior later on.

The paper builds on a large body of research in speech perception and adaptation, as well as distributional learning in other domains to develop a normative framework of how we manage to understand each other despite the infamous lack of invariance. At the core of the proposal stands the (old, but often under-appreciated) idea that variability in the speech signal is often structured (i.e., conditioned on other variables in the world) and that an ideal observer should take advantage of that structure. This makes speech perception a problem of inference under uncertainty at multiple different levels Read the rest of this entry »

Presentation at CNS symposium on “Prediction, adaptation and plasticity of language processing in the adult brain”

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Earlier this week, Dave Kleinschmidt and I gave a presentation as part of a mini-symposium at Cognitive Neuroscience Conference  on “Prediction, adaptation and plasticity of language processing in the adult brain” organized by Gina Kuperberg.  For this symposium we were tasked to address the following questions:

  1. What is prediction and why do we predict?
  2. What is adaptation and why do we adapt?
  3. How do prediction and adaptation relate?

Although we address these questions in the context of language processing, most of our points are pretty general. We aim to provide intuitions about the notions of distribution, prediction, distributional/statistical learning and adaptation. We walked through examples of belief-updating, intentionally keeping our presentation math-free. Perhaps some of the slides are of interest to some of you, so I attached them below. A more in-depth treatment of these questions is also provided in Kleinschmidt & Jaeger (under review, available on request).

Comments welcome. (sorry – some of the slides look strange after importing them and all the animations got lost but I think they are all readable).

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It was great to see these notions discussed and related to ERP, MEG, and fMRI research in the three other presentations of the symposium by Matt Davis, Kara Federmeier and Eddy Wlotko, and Gina Kuperberg. You can read their abstracts following the link to the symposium I included above.

Post-doctoral position available (speech perception, language comprehension, implicit distributional learning, inference under uncertainty, hierarchical predictive systems)

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The Human Language Processing (HLP) Lab at the University of Rochester is looking for a post-doctoral researcher interested in speech perception and adaptation. Possible start dates for this 1-3 year position range from mid August 2014 to mid June 2015 (the current post-doctoral researcher funded under this grant will leave HLP lab in late August to start a tenure-track position in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh). International students are welcome to apply (NIH research grants are not limited to nationals).

We will start reviewing applications mid-June 2014 though later submissions are welcome. Applications should contain (1) a cover letter clearly indicated possible start dates, (2) a CV, (3) research statement detailing qualifications and research interests, and (4) 2 or more letters of recommendation. Applications and letters should be emailed to Kathy Corser (kcorser@bcs.rochester.edu), subject line “application for post-doc position (HLP Lab)”.

This is an NIH funded project (NIHCD R01 HD075797), currently scheduled to end in 2018. The project is a collaboration between Florian Jaeger (PI), Mike Tanenhaus (co-PI), Robbie Jacobs and Dick Aslin. We are interested in Read the rest of this entry »