Broadly speaking, I'm interested in information; specifically, the relationship between the information which exists in the world and that which exists in our minds. My research focuses on representations of sound information: how the perceptual system turns acoustic information into linguistically and musically meaningful structures, and how this process is modified by experience.
Currently, I am attempting to determine how perceptual dimensions relevant to the tonal system of a speaker's native language affect the ability to perceive musical melodies. I also hope to extend these findings to a second language context, and examine the effects of short-term musical training on lexical tone perception. On a related track, I am also examing how task characteristics, such as dealing with stimulus variability, correlate between language and music, and how the ability to perceive linguistic and musical stimuli under different task conditions correlates with linguistic and musical background as well as other individual differences.
Answering these questions requires the converging use of many methods; my work has included a variety of techniques, including theoretical description, behavioral experimentation, neurophysiological studies, and non‑experimental techniques, such as acoustic and corpus analysis. I also strive to incorporate the best quantitative methods into my work, as robust statistical methods are as indispensable to research as basic measurement techniques.
I approach the research process by attempting to be a synthesizer, in the sense described by E.O. Wilson:
…in the twenty‑first century, the world will not be run by those possessing mere information alone. Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.
Here, you can find descriptions of my current research projects, download my papers, and find out where I'll be presenting my work.
- Summary of research program [pdf].
- Downloadable publications and manuscripts.
- Upcoming presentations.
- Crosslinguistic perception of pitch in language and music.
- Ongoing projects and raw ideas [restricted access].
- publicly available data [none yet]
- nerd facebook
- academic family tree
You can see my work presented at these upcoming conferences:
- none at the moment.
participate in research
- Apply to be a Research Assistant
I'm always looking for students interested in being Research Assistants in my lab. This is a great way to get experience with research. Review the research page for more details on our projects. No particular experience is necessary, but a basic understanding of research methods (such as that learned in Psych301W) and strong quantitative skills are helpful, as is any language study or music theory experience. Please email me with any questions, and if you're interested in applying, send a statement of your interest, a current transcript, and the name and contact information of an academic reference.
- Research participants needed
If you're a Brandywine student with an hour to spare, please email me to find out how to participate in a language and music perception study. I am also interested in meeting speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, Yoruba, Thai, and Vietnamese in the Philadelphia region.
Recent work presented with students
- Normalization in speech and music perception
- Normalization of stimulus variability across
language and music: Lexical tones and musical intervals.
- PSUxLing 2014 at Penn State University Park
- Effects of stimulus variability on pitch discrimination: Lexical tones and musical intervals.
- EURECA 2014 at Penn State Brandywine
- Social Science and Humanities Research Award Winner
- Normalization of stimulus variability across language and music: Lexical tones and musical intervals.
For course materials, please see the teaching portion of the site.
for a full list of publications, please see my cv.
Speech and Music Perception
- Pitch perception in lexical tone and melody.
- Lexical tone, melody discrimination, and tonality.
- CRBLM poster.
- Specificity of the effects of tone language experience on melody perception.
- APCAM 2012 slides.
- Tone language experience enhances sensitivity to melodic contour.
- ERP evidence for laryngeal underspecification in English.
- Song style and the acoustic vowel space of singing.
- SMPC 2011 abstract.
- An investigation of the acoustic vowel space of singing.
- Working memory effects of gap-predictions in normal adults: An event-related potentials study.
- An event‑related potentials measure of the effect of low verbal memory span on gap‑filling.
- CUNY 2009 poster
- Shifting standards: Children’s understanding of gradable adjectives.
- GALANA Proceedings (2006)
- Categorization training results in shape‑ and category‑selective human neural plasticity.
- Categorization training leads to sharpening tuning of shape‑specific tuning in the lateral occipital cortex and learning of category‑selective representations in the prefrontal cortex.
- Journal of Vision, 6(6):620a (2006)
Crosslinguistic perception of pitch in language and music
Language and music are both complex systems of organized sound, but the degree to which they share mental representations and resources remains an open question. My dissertation research aimed to contribute to this discussion by examining the effect of language experience on the perception of pitch in musical contexts (and vice-versa).
This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1156289) and the University of Delaware.
If you have specific questions about the studies, stimuli, or anything else, please feel free to email me.