PhD position available: “Why does voice matter for speech perception?”

If you are a master student from a relevant field to our research interests (hearing and speech sciences, psychology, psycholinguistics, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, physics, or other related fields) and have an interest to work in a fun and exciting research group, read on!

We have a PhD position available, specifically on the topic of voice perception and its importance on speech perception. For further details and to send an application, see the link below:

6 October 2017: Dr. David Ryugo, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia

The Auditory Nerve: Structure, Function, and Plasticity

Date: 6 October 2017, FRIDAY, 14:00 hr
Location: 3215.0165

Broadcasting link:

Prof. Dr. David Ryugo
Hearing Research
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Sydney, Australia

All sound in the environment accesses the brain by way of the auditory nerve. This nerve is primarily composed of neurons with myelinated axons that innervate inner hair cells of the cochlea. In order to make sense of sound, neural activity must be closely linked in time to acoustic events. The auditory system has mechanisms to accomplish this task that will be discussed in this presentation. Each auditory nerve fiber forms a giant terminal in the brain with many synapses, and these terminals, called endbulbs of Held, have been observed in every land vertebrate examined to date. I will explore their specializations in hearing, their pathologic reactions to deafness, and their salvation by cochlear implants.

Terrin Tamati’s VENI grant

Terrin Tamati received a VENI Award from NWO. Below is a short summary of this new project. Congratulations!

More than words: Uncovering the effects of talkers’ voices on real-life speech perception by cochlear implant users
Dr. T.N. (Terrin) Tamati (f), UMCG – Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Understanding speech in the real world, outside the clinic, can be challenging. This project investigates cochlear implant users’ perception of speech produced by talkers with different voices and accents. Findings will identify difficulties cochlear implant users encounter in their daily lives, to account for them in clinical settings.

VICI GRANT in the news: UMCG KennisInzicht


Foto: Henk Veenstra

Our new VICI project on voice and speech perception in normal and impaired hearing is featured at the UMCG newsletter Kennisinzicht. It covers all the highlights of what we want to do — how we want to understand both the basic science behind voice perception in relation to speech understanding and how we want to make use of this knowledge to help hearing-impaired individuals. The fun sub projects involve using Sam the robot for more efficient and fun testing and training.

For more details, the link to the KennisInzicht article is here.

27 June 2017: Dr. Robert Harris, Prince Claus Conservatoire

Action-oriented predictive processing: grasping the aural world 

Date: 27 June 2017, 14:00
Location: UMCG, room P3.270 (near KNO Department)

Broadcasting link:

Dr. Robert Harris
Lifelong Learning in Music
Hanze University of Applied Sciences
Prince Claus Conservatoire

Current models of brain function indicate that sensory input is not only processed in two anatomically and functionally separate pathways, but that perception is the product of a predicting brain and not purely a representation of the input to which it has access. Sensory modalities are furthermore intertwined, making not only synesthesia possible in rare instances, but also the expropriation of neural resources as in the SMARC effect. The use of instrumental music training to enhance the hearing of cochlear implant recipients builds on these models by promoting the implicit acquisition of ideomotor associations between musical pitch, tone color, volume, and hand movement. 


23 June 2017: Dr. Lars Riecke, Univ. Maastricht

Neural entrainment to speech modulates speech intelligibility ?

Date: 23 June 2017, 15:00
Location: UMCG, Panoramazaal, U4.123

Broadcasting link:

Dr. Lars Riecke
Department of Cognitive Neuroscience
Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of Maastricht

Speech entrainment, the alignment of neural activity to the slow temporal fluctuations (envelope) of acoustic speech input, is ubiquitous in current theories of speech processing. Associations between speech entrainment and acoustic speech signal, behavioral listening task, and speech intelligibility have been observed repeatedly. However, a methodological bottleneck has prevented clarifying whether speech entrainment functionally contributes to speech intelligibility. Here, we addressed this issue by experimentally manipulating speech entrainment in the absence of systematic acoustic and task-related changes with a novel approach that involves stimulating listeners with transcranial currents carrying speech-envelope information. Results from two experiments involving a cocktail party-like scenario and a listening situation devoid of acoustic envelope information show consistently an effect on listeners’ speech-recognition performance, demonstrating a causal role of speech entrainment for speech intelligibility. This finding supports entrainment-based theories of speech comprehension and suggests that transcranial stimulation with speech envelope-shaped currents can be utilized to modulate speech comprehension.