Congratulations to Meghan Clayards who received a new SSHRC Insight grant “What makes us flexible? The role of cognitive control and sensory representations in spoken word recognition”. Collaborators are Morgan Sonderegger, Ross Otto (Psychology), Shari Baum (SCSD) and Rachel Theodore (University of Connecticut).

Summary: One of the most important things we do every day is understand spoken language. We effortlessly handle variability in different talkers and contexts with more flexibility than any automatic speech recognition system. However, listeners are themselves variable. In the past 10 years there has been an explosion in interest in individual differences in speech perception. However, as this field is still in its infancy, research is fragmented. Some dimensions of individual variability have been identified but we don’t know what underlies them. The central goal of this project is to test proposals about how these dimensions or ‘speech perception profiles’ are supported by sensory abilities and cognitive control. In the first part of the project we will relate electrophysiological methods to behavioural methods in order to test the hypothesis that better ability to use acoustic information from speech is related to less noisy sensory processing. In the second part of the project we will conduct a large-scale replication of some key results on plasticity of perception and test whether plasticity is related to broader language knowledge and cognitive control. We will also deploy a larger scale test of pilot data suggesting that use of language knowledge and cognitive control may be directly related to each other.