Motor Speech and Prosody Research Laboratory

MSPRL

The Motor Speech and Prosody Research Lab, directed by Frank R. Boutsen, Ph.D. aims to design, develop, and establish production-perception research in speech and language with emphasis on prosody.

Our Missions

  • Improve computational methods pertaining to quantification of the acoustics of speech and language.
  • In collaboration with other labs, investigate neuro-behavioral correlates of speech/language production and perception.
  • Apply research findings in clinical applications.

Collaboration

In a joint project with the VAMC Center for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Disorders, we are investigating the influence of prosody and affect on the visual processing of faces. The Motor Speech and Prosody Research Lab also entertains a close working relationship with the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics at OU Norman. In cooperation with INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, and the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, we are investigating the effect of “SPEAK OUT! ®” speech therapy on prosody in persons with Parkinson’s disease. Investigations into the neural correlates of prosody are being carried out in collaboration with the OU Visual Neuroscience Laboratory.

Saccadic eye movements and the processing of facial emotions in healthy adults
This is a study that uses eye tracking to gather data on saccadic eye movements (initial and secondary saccades) as a means to study attentional and perceptual biases when viewing facial emotions and blends of facial emotions (a different emotion displayed on the upper versus lower face). We hypothesize that the initial saccade is reflexive and will be directed to the center of the face ("center of gravity") while the secondary saccade will vary depending on perceptual biases and pre-attentive conditions.

Effects of linguistic category on the acoustic variation of speech in typical adults
This experiment proposes to evaluate variation in the acoustic output of speech observed in typical adults as a result of increased cognitive-linguistic processing demands. In this research, a task has been developed that incorporates linguistic (four) and contrastive (two) speech conditions that are repeated ten times each and are compared to motor conditions that quantifies a person’s speech motor bias. The latter is a condition where the person is to repeat four words. The task is presented in two general conditions: a reading and a visual nonverbal condition. It is anticipated that participants will exhibit observable variation between consecutive repetitions of the four target words based on linguistic category and cognitive-linguistic processing task (i.e., reading vs. visual). Results obtained from this study will provide speech-language researchers with a more convenient tool to quantify speech production variability while simultaneously providing insight into how changes in cognitive-linguistic processing demands affect speech motor planning.

Neural correlates of gated word recognition in adult Spanish-English bilinguals and English monlinguals
This study proposes to investigate if and to what extent non-native speakers of the English language utilize prosodic information when recognizing English words and how this process unfolds in the brain during online processing of spoken langauge. It is proposed that the non-native speakers of English will utilize prosodic information but to a much lesser extent as a function of the age at which they began learning the language.

The effect of first language prosody on learning second language vocabulary in adults
This study proposes to investigate if and to what extent native speakers of the English language utilize prosodic information when learning Spanish words. It is proposed that the native speakers of English will utilize prosodic information that is more closely related to their own, in terms of stress and duration, in learning Spanish vocabulary targets as compared to prosody that is more closely related to that of a native speaker of Spanish. Information gleaned from this study will provide researchers who are interested in the acquisition and processing of natural language with further information into how the brain interprets and utilizes acoustic and linguistic cues. Additionally, this study may aid second language instructors in establishing more appropriate educational curricula and may further inform pedagogical practice as it relates to teaching English as a second language.

Prosody and spoken word recognition in early and late Spanish-English bilinguals
This study proposes to investigate if and to what extent non-native speakers of the English language utilize prosodic information when recognizing English words. It is proposed that the non-native speakers of English will utilize prosodic information but to a much lesser extent as a function of the age at which they began learning the language. The stimuli that are used in this study were adapted directly from Lindfield, Wingfield, and Goodglass (1999).

A generalized computer-analysis program for assessing speech-sound disorders in children
Standardized tests assess a client’s communication abilities in restricted communicative conditions rather than in natural communicative contexts. Therefore, it is often necessary for speech-language pathologists and researchers to collect additional data composed of “authentic” speech samples that reflect real performance in the client’s life. The goal of this study is to make a generalized computer-analysis program for assessing speech sound disorders in children. This assessment tool will be able to demonstrate the transcription analysis and generate a report.

Effect of prosody on eye movement patterns for skilled and unskilled readers in silent and oral reading
The goal of this study is to obtain intrinsic prosodic norms for adults reading the “My Grandfather” passage. The influence of reading skill and reading mode such as silent or oral on prosody will be investigated acoustically and by way of eye-tracking. The study will inform clinical practice regarding the role of reading skill in speech samples obtained while reading.

The Effect of “SPEAK OUT! ®” voice therapy on prosody in persons with Parkinson’s disease
The goal of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the “SPEAK OUT!®” program in terms of prosody variables using paired pre/post comparisons. This project has been collaborating with the INTEGRIS JIM Thorpe Rehabilitation Center and the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma. 

The clinical utility of detection errors made by automatic measurement tools in disordered speech
Automatic speech assessment has gained traction in recent years, but questions of validity for disordered speech remain.  For example, errors in syllabic nuclei detection are common.  We quantify detection error rates and patterns under varying voice quality and dysarthria conditions to investigate their clinical utility. This study aims to quantify the number and frequency of errors in automatic detection under certain prosodic and clinical conditions.

Processing of facial emotions in healthy adults
Clinical research on facial emotions has emphasized differences in mobility and expression between the right and left hemi face. Some social psychologists suggest that control of facial expression is organized across the upper-lower facial axis because of the phenomena of facial blends. It has been demonstrated that upper facial emotions are processed preferentially by the left visual field, and lower facial emotions are processed preferentially by the right visual field. However, research has also shown that with advanced age, healthy subjects lose their ability to process upper facial emotions. The purpose of this study was to determine how visual field, attentional condition, and instruction influence the processing of facial emotions in healthy adults over the age of 65, as measured by initial saccade movements recorded during tachistoscopic presentation of facial blends of emotions. 

The effect of working memory on prosodic production and processing This study aims to examine the relationship between short term/working memory and prosody, as measured by changes in duration (ms), intensity (dB), and pitch (F0), using a dual task approach.  It is hypothesized that participants will be less able to produce and perceive prosody (as measured by changes in pitch, duration, and intensity) if their working memory is simultaneously engaged in a separate arithmetic task. 


The relationship between the acoustic-temporal index and spatial-temporal index
This project will aim to examine, in greater detail, the complex relationship between the acoustics and spatial (lip movements) changes over time during speech.

Vocalic interjections

This project will examine the neurologic lateralization of vocalic interjections.

Kaye Aulgur, Ph.D.

Angela Rexwinkle, M.S.

Derick D. Deweber, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

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