Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Kai Alter

Senior Lecturer



After my studies in Linguistics and Phonetics in Leipzig, Lausanne and Geneva I finished my PhD-thesis on French intonation in 1993. Since 1995 I participated to built up a speaking computer (Concept-to-Speech system) at the Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna. From 1997 I focussed my research on the Human Brain at the Max-Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. In 1999 I was appointed by the President of the Max-Planck Society as Independent Junior Research Group Leader and worked with my own group on 'Neurocognition of Prosody' using EEG, MEG, and fMRI.


2002 Habilitation University of Leipzig
1994 PhD Linguistics University of Leipzig
1993 post-grade Linguistics University of Geneva
1993 post-grade Phonetics University of Lausanne
1990 Master Linguistics University of Leipzig
1988 Master Russian Language University of Belgorod

Current Position

Senior Lecturer in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Institute of Neuroscience


Oxford Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, Language&Brain Lab, Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics; 06/2015 – 09/2017

Associate Member of Laboratorio de Fonetica & Lisbon Baby Lab, Dept. Linguistica, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa, since March 2017

Research Associate at the Tuebingen University Hospital for Psychiatry since September 2017

Convenor, Cross-Faculty Phonetics and Phonology Research Group, since July 2017

Independent Junior Research Group Leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences appointed by the President of the Max-Planck Society; 06/1999 – 06/2004




I am involved in auditory neuroscience leading several projects on speech and language processing employing different behavioural and neuro-imaging methods in both healthy volunteers and patients. In 2015, I have been awarded a Visiting Senior Fellowship at the University of Oxford where I am currently working in their Language & Brain lab.

I have more than 130 publications including about 65 journal papers and enjoy more than 5200 citations (h-index 40). Overall, I have co-supervised 20 PhD students and 8 PDRAs. I am currently co-supervising 3 PhD students and 2 PDRAs.

During the past 12 years, I have been awarded with international and national grants at a value of £1.8Million.

Research Interests

Cognitive Neuroscience
• comparison between language and music processing

• Neurocognition of prosody and intonation

• Neurocognition of Phonetics and Phonology
• Language and speech processing in normal and clinical populations
• Laughter and Brain

• Tinnitus and EEG

Auditory processing
• developmental aspects of speech & language processing
• speech segmentation on phrase and discourse level using ERPs and fMRI
• processing of durational, tonal, and spectral properties

I am mostly interested in the brain responses during auditory processing in healthy subjects and patients after brain damage. I am trying to find out how different brain areas interact and how affective and prosodic information is processed.

Other Expertise

I have also acted as a reviewer for national and international Research Foundations (Human Frontier Science Program, German Research Foundation, Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research) and for international journals. Most recently, I achieved a Honorary appointment as Research Associate in Neurology by the NHS Trust in Newcastle allowing to continue my work with neurological patients.


I am Module Leader for 'Physiology of Speech and Language' and 'Language Pathology'.

I am teaching future Speech and Language Therapists.