School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Laurence White

Senior Lecturer in Speech and Language Sciences



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


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 2020

Applications are encouraged for PhD projects on the broad theme of prosody in speech perception and production, under the supervision of Laurence White.


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 information.



Teaching: Brain and Behaviour III (Neuropsychology)

Acting Module Leader: Research Methods in Practice III