School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

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. Recent empirical and theoretical work linking speech production and perception argues against the long-standing notion of rhythm class as a basis for prosodic typology.

PhD students supervised


  • Saleh Ghadanfari (Newcastle, 2018-): Gradient syllable weight in Arabic.
  • Teresa Garrido-Tamayo (Newcastle, 2019-): Using a story-based dynamic assessment to identify Developmental Language Disorder in children learning English as an additional language.
  • Andreas Krug (Newcastle, 2019-): The roles of familiarity, intelligibility and attitude in the processing of native and non-native accents.
  • Damar Hoogland (Newcastle, 2020-): The dynamics of conversational turn-taking: How does speech timing interact with neural entrainment?


  • Ilaria Torre (2014-17, Plymouth University): The impact of voice on trust attributions.
  • Siyu Chen (2017-21, University of Greenwich, external second supervisor from 2019): A psycholinguistic study of bilingual lexical access: the tone-intonation interface and implications for L2 tone acquisition.

PhD studentship applications for January 2022

Applications are encouraged for PhD projects on the broad theme of prosody in speech perception and production, under the supervision of Laurence White. Studentships are available via open competition from Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP: and Northern Bridge Consortium (


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) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Students with an interest in spoken language, relevant degree qualifications and experience in any of the above techniques are encouraged to contact Laurence White ( for further discussion.



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

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