Research

Research in our lab examines spoken language processing to promote a theoretical understanding of the perceptual mechanisms that support listeners’ ability to dynamically adapt to structured phonetic variation. Our lab broadly considers this question within the frameworks of linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science. We use a variety of experimental paradigms to examine how listeners map the speech signal onto individual consonants and vowels – the building blocks of larger linguistic units such as words and phrases. We also examine factors that influence organization and retrieval of lexical items within memory. Two crosscutting themes of our research are (1) examining how language comprehension is shaped by input in the environment for perceptual learning in the mature perceiver and plasticity underlying acquisition of speech sound categories in development, and (2) examining factors that explain individual variation in spoken language processing abilities, including variation that arises due to language disorders.

The SLaP Lab is eager to embrace new best practices for promoting reproducibility in research, including making all data and analysis scripts associated with our manuscripts publicly available. We’re using the Open Science Framework as a central repository for work from our lab. We’ve recently begun providing reviewers access to raw data and analysis scripts via links to private projects on the OSF, to be converted to public projects when manuscripts are published. The long-term goal is to have this repository store data from all (current and past) work from the lab, though we may need a few more years of spring and holiday “breaks” to make that happen. If you’re keen to have early access to a private OSF repository, then let us know (rachel.theodore@uconn.edu), and we’ll be happy to provide it.

Recent publications

Theodore, R. M., Monto, N. R., & Graham, S. (In press). Individual differences in distributional learning for speech: What’s ideal for ideal observers? Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Ganugapati, D., & Theodore, R. M. (2019). Structured phonetic variation facilitates talker identification. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145, EL469-EL475. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5100166

Orena, A. J., Polka, L., & Theodore, R. M. (2019). Identifying bilingual talkers after a language switch: Language experience matters. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145, EL303-EL309. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5097735

Assgari, A. A., Theodore, R. M., & Stilp, C. E. (2019). Variability in talkers’ fundamental frequencies shapes context effects in speech perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145, 1443-1454.

Theodore, R. M., & Monto, N. R. (2019). Distributional learning for speech reflects cumulative exposure to a talker’s phonetic distributions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewhttps://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-018-1551-5

Theodore, R. M., & Flanagan, E. G. (2019). Determinants of voice recognition in monolingual and bilingual listeners. Bilingualism: Language and Cognitionhttps://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728919000075

Drouin, J. R., & Theodore, R. M. (2018). Lexically guided perceptual learning is robust to task-based changes in listening strategy. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144, 1089-1099.

Campbell, J. A., McSherry, H. M., & Theodore, R. M. (2018). Contextual influences on phonetic categorization in school-aged children. Frontiers in Communication, 3, 35.

Myers, E. B., & Theodore, R. M. (2017). Voice-sensitive brain networks encode talker-specific phonetic detail. Brain and Language, 165, 33-44.

Xin, X., Theodore, R. M., & Myers, E. B. (2017). More than a boundary shift: Perceptual adaptation to foreign-accented speech reshapes the internal structure of phonetic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 206-217.

Skoe, E., Brody, L., & Theodore, R. M. (2017). Reading ability reflects individual differences in auditory brainstem function, even into adulthood. Brain and Language, 164, 25-31.

Drouin, J. R., Theodore, R. M., & Myers, E. B. (2016). Lexically guided perceptual tuning of internal phonetic category structure. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140, EL307-EL313.

Kadam, M. A., Orena, A. J., Theodore, R. M., & Polka, L. (2016). Reading ability influences native and non-native voice recognition, even for unimpaired readers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 139, EL6-EL12.

Theodore, R. M., Myers, E. B., & Lomibao, J. A.  (2015). Talker-specific influences on phonetic category structure.  Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 138, 1068-1078.

Theodore, R. M., Demuth, K., & Shattuck-Hufnagel, S.  (2015).  Examination of the locus of positional influences on children’s production of plural –s: Considerations from local and global speech planning .  Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58, 946-953.

Orena, A. J., Theodore, R. M., & Polka, L.  (2015).  Language exposure facilitates talker learning prior to language comprehension, even in adults.  Cognition, 143, 36-40.

Theodore, R. M., Blumstein, S. E., & Luthra, S.  (2015).  Attention modulates specificity effects in spoken word recognition: Challenges to the time-course hypothesis.  Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 77, 1674-1684.

Under review, in revision, and in preparation

We’re happy to pass along preprints for any work under review; send requests to rachel.theodore@uconn.edu.

Stilp, C. E., & Theodore, R. M. (Under review). Talker normalization is mediated by structured indexical information.

Giovannone, N., & Theodore, R.M. (Under review). Contributions to individual differences in lexically guided perceptual learning.

Berent, I., Platt, M., Theodore, R. M., Balaban, E., & Fried, P. J. (Under review). Speech perception requires articulatory action: Evidence from mechanical stimulation.

Magnuson, J. S., You, H., Nam, H., Allopenna, P. D., Brown, K., Escabi, M., Theodore, R. M., Luthra, S., Li, M., & Rueckl, J. (Under review). EARSHOT: A minimal neural network model of incremental human speech recognition. PREPRINT

Theodore, R. M., Monto, N. R., Orena, A. J., & Polka, L. (In revision). The language familiarity effect for voice identification is not contingent on lexical access.

Salvador, K., Marmon, S., & Theodore, R. M. (In revision). Reading ability influences perceptual learning of talker-specific phonetic detail.

Monto, N. R., & Theodore, R. M. (In preparation). Effects of task-directed attention on lexically guided perceptual learning for letter perception.

Thompson, E., Bohner, A., Fox, N. P., & Theodore, R. M. (In preparation). Effects of reading ability on lexically guided perceptual learning for letter perception.

Drouin, J. R., & Theodore, R. M. (In preparation). Neural representation of phonetic category structure in individuals with developmental language disorder.

O’Brien, E., & Theodore, R. M. (In preparation). He said, she said: Talker as context for semantic integration of spoken language in memory.

Recent conference presentations

Giovannone, N., & Theodore, R.M. (2019). Contributions to individual differences in lexically guided perceptual learning. Presented at the 177th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Louisville, Kentucky.  PDF

Monto, N. R., & Theodore, R. M. (2019). Individual differences in distributional learning for speech: What’s ideal for ideal observers? Presented at the 177th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Louisville, Kentucky.  PDF

Drouin, J. R., & Theodore, R. M. (2018). Effects of receptive language ability on the neural representation of phonetic category structure. Presented at the 176th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Victoria, British Columbia.  PDF

Simmons, E.S., Paul, R., Theodore, R. M., Li, M., & Magnuson, J. S. (2017). Insight into spoken word processing in young children using eye movements. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Baltimore, Maryland.

Drouin, J. R., Ose, J. & Theodore, R. M. (2017). Effects of processing depth on lexically guided perceptual learning. Presented at the 173rdmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Boston, Massachusetts.

Assgari, A., Theodore, R. M., & Stilp, C. (2017). Isolating sources of acoustic variability that diminish spectral contrast effects in vowel categorization. Presented at the 173rdmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Boston, Massachusetts.

Canfield, A. R., Castelluccio, B., Jogstrom, A., Green, J. J., Irvine, C., Theodore, R. M., & Eigsti, I. M. (2017). Reduced phonetic convergence in autism spectrum disorder. Presented at the annual International Meeting for Autism Research, San Francisco, California.

Drouin, J. R., Monto, N. R., Graham, S., Ose, J. & Theodore, R. M. (2016). Effects of attention on lexically-informed perceptual learning. Presented at the 172ndmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Theodore, R. M., Monto, N. R., Orena, A. J., & Polka, L. (2016). The native language benefit for voice recognition is not contingent on lexical access. Presented at the 172ndmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Orena, A. J., Polka, L., & Theodore, R. M. (2016). Language familiarity mediates identification of bilingual talkers across languages. Presented at the 172ndmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Assgari, A., Mohiuddin, A., Theodore, R. M., & Stilp, C. (2016). Dissociating contributions of talker gender and acoustic variability for spectral contrast effects in vowel categorization. Presented at the 171stmeeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Xie, X., Theodore, R. M., & Myers, E. B.  (2015). Perceptual adaptation to foreign-accented speech reshapes the internal structure of phonetic categories. Presented at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Chicago, Illinois.

Myers, E. B., Theodore, R. M., & Luthra, S. (2015). Neural encoding of talker-specific phonetic information. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Chicago, Illinois.  PDF

Skoe, E., Brody, L., & Theodore, R. M. (2015). Biological markers of reading ability in the adult auditory system. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Chicago, Illinois.

Bohner, A., Thompson, E., Graham, S., Drouin, J., & Theodore, R. M.  (2015). Effects of reading ability on lexically-informed perceptual learning. Presented at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  PDF

Kadam, M., Orena, A. J., Monto, N. R., Theodore, R. M., & Polka, L.  (2015). Effects of reading ability on native and nonnative talker recognition. Presented at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  PDF

Orena, A. J., Theodore, R. M., & Polka, L.  (2015). Exposure to an unfamiliar language bolster talker learning. Presented at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Collaborators

Dr. Emily Myers University of Connecticut
Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Linda Polka McGill University
Dr. Erika Skoe University of Connecticut
Dr. James Magnuson University of Connecticut
Dr. Christian Stilp University of Louisville