Welcome to the Language and Brain Lab

The LAB lab focuses on the study of language and speech, including its perception, production, and acquisition, as well as cognitive and neural processing. We conduct behavioral, electro-physiological, and neuro-imaging research with both adults and children, across a variety of languages.


ICPhS 2015 Research Presentations

The Language and Brain Lab is proud to be presenting the following three projects at the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences this week in Glasgow, Scotland.  More info available at

Acoustic characteristics of clearly spoken English tense and lax vowels

Leung, Keith King Wui; Jongman, Allard; Wang, Yue and Sereno, Joan A.

The acoustic features of clearly produced vowels have been widely studied, but a less explored area concerns the difference in the adaptations of tense and lax clear vowels. This study explored the clear production of three pairs of English tense and lax vowels (/i-ɪ/, /ɑ-ʌ/, /u-ʊ/) to determine whether tense vowels show a larger clear versus conversational speech difference than lax vowels. Vowel space, individual formant frequency values, dynamic formant information and vowel duration of tense and lax vowels were examined. Results suggest there was more conversational-to-clear vowel lengthening for tense vowels than for lax vowels. However, an opposite effect was found for spectral measures. Lax vowels yielded greater vowel space expansion, formant frequency change, and dynamic formant movement than tense vowels in clear speech.

Examining visible articulatory features in clear and conversational speech

Tang, Lisa; Hannah, Beverly; Jongman, Allard; Sereno, Joan A.; Wang, Yue and Hamarneh, Ghassan

This study investigated the relationship between clear and conversational speech styles and the motion of visible articulators. Using state-of-the-art computer vision and image processing techniques, we examined front and side view videos of 18 native English speakers’ faces while they recited six English words containing various vowels (keyed, kid, cod, cud, cooed, could) and extracted measurements corresponding to the lip and jaw movements. Significant effects were found for style, gender, and saliency of visual speech cues. Clear speech exhibited longer vowel duration and more vertical lip stretching and jaw movement for all vowels, more horizontal lip stretching for front vowels, and a greater degree of lip protrusion for rounded vowels. Additionally, greater articulatory movements were found for male than female speakers in clear speech. These articulatory movement data demonstrate that speakers modify their speech productions in response to communicative needs in different speech contexts.

Effects of musical experience on the Thai rate-varied vowel length perception

Cooper, Angela; Wang, Yue and Ashley, Richard

Musical experience has been demonstrated to play a significant role in the perception of non-native speech contrasts. The present study examined whether or not musical experience facilitated the normalization of speaking rate in the perception of non-native vowel length contrasts. Musicians and non-musicians were first briefly familiarized with Thai vowel length distinctions before completing identification and AX discrimination tasks with items contrasting in vowel length at three speaking rates. Results revealed that musicians significantly outperformed non-musicians at identifying and discriminating non-native rate-varying length distinctions, suggesting that their attunement to rhythmic and temporal information in music transferred to facilitating their ability to perceive non-native temporal speech contrasts at varying speaking rates.

Participants Needed

CLICK HERE for directions to the LABlab - RCB 6203 at SFU Burnaby

Are you interested in participating in a language experiment?