School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Laurence White

Senior Lecturer in Speech and Language Sciences

Background

Degree Programme Director: BSc Speech and Language Therapy; Masters in Speech and Language Sciences


Qualifications

BA in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

MPhil in Computer Speech and Language Processing, University of Cambridge

PhD in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh


Professional membership

Experimental Psychology Society

British Association of Academic Phoneticians

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



Research

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 studentship applications for January 2021

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: https://www.ninedtp.ac.uk/) and Northern Bridge Consortium (http://www.northernbridge.ac.uk/

Overview

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 (laurence.white@newcastle.ac.uk) for further information.

 



Teaching

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

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


Publications