Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Staff Profile

Dr Laurence White

Senior Lecturer in Speech and Language Sciences


Degree Programme Director: BSc Speech and Language Therapy; Master of Speech and Language Sciences.


PhD in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

MPhil in Computer Speech and Language Processing, University of Cambridge

BA in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Professional membership

Experimental Psychology Society

British Association of Academic Phoneticians

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


My research explores speech perception, speech production and their relationship. A focus in my perceptual work has been the mechanisms by which listeners locate the boundaries between spoken words, in typical adult speech processing, infant language development and second language acquisition. In speech production, I am interested in the form and functions of prosody, in particular, speech rhythm and timing.

Some recent work considers prosody in interaction, examining the timing of conversational turns and the impact of conditions such as depression on the dynamics of speech prosody.

For a full publication list, including links, please see my personal research website:


PhD students supervised


  • Teresa Garrido-Tamayo (Newcastle, 2019-): Using a story-based dynamic assessment to identify Developmental Language Disorder in children learning English as an additional language.
  • Damar Hoogland (Newcastle, 2020-): The dynamics of conversational turn-taking: How does speech timing interact with neural entrainment?
  • Yanyu Li (Newcastle, 2021-): Using first language transfer to predict effectiveness of training for second language tone perception.
  • Melissa Schorah (Newcastle, 2023-): Individual differences in temporal predictions in speech: word segmentation and conversational turn-taking


  • Ilaria Torre (Plymouth, 2014-17): The impact of voice on trust attributions.
  • Siyu Chen (Greenwich, 2017-21, as external supervisor): A psycholinguistic study of bilingual lexical access: the tone-intonation interface and implications for L2 tone acquisition.
  • Saleh Ghadanfari (Newcastle, 2018-22): Hierarchical timing in varieties of Kuwaiti Arabic.
  • Andreas Krug (Newcastle, 2019-2023): The roles of familiarity, intelligibility and attitude in the processing of native and non-native accents.

PhD studentship applications for January 2024

Applications are encouraged for PhD projects on the broad theme of prosody in speech perception and production, under the supervision of Laurence White and colleagues in Speech and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.

Proposals should be finalised by January 2024: please contact Laurence White as soon as possible to indicate your areas of research interest. Potential themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Prosody in interaction, such as the timing of conversational turns across languages.
  • The impact of psychiatric conditions such as depression and dementia on the dynamics of speech prosody.
  • The roles of regional and second language accent information in speech processing.

Studentships are available via open competition from Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP: https://www.ninedtp.ac.uk/) and Northern Bridge Consortium (http://www.northernbridge.ac.uk/


Prosody, the melody and timing of speech, tells us about not only the structure and content of spoken interactions, but also the emotional state, attitudes and social origins of conversation partners. We know that our linguistic background can affect our interpretation of prosody, but how far are such perceptual biases determined by experience? Are there prosodic codes that are interpreted consistently by listeners whatever their linguistic background? What could universal cues tell us about the evolutionary origin and historical development of languages? Conversely, how is our use of prosody in speaking and listening affected by individual differences in perception and cognition, including developmental and acquired language disorders? How well do differences along prosodic dimensions predict the ease with which native speakers of one language can learn another?


Research projects addressing these and related themes lend themselves to a range of experimental approaches including: behavioural research, with adults and infants; articulatory analysis; computational modelling and evolutionary simulations; neuroscientific studies using electroencephalography (EEG). Experience in any of these techniques would be useful, as would experience of inferential statistical analysis.


Students with an interest in spoken language and relevant degree qualifications are encouraged to contact Laurence White (laurence.white@newcastle.ac.uk) for further discussion.


Degree Programme Director: BSc Speech and Language Therapy; Master of Speech and Language Sciences.

Teaching: Brain and Behaviour II/III (Neurology/Neuropsychology), Research Methods III, Research Methods IV.

Module Leader: SPE3055 Brain and Behaviour; SPE3056 Research Methods III; SPE4050 Research Methods IV.