Undergraduate Research Assistants

We are currently recruiting for Spring semester 2016

General information

General information: At the beginning of each semester the Speech and Language Perception lab (lead investigator: Dr. Lynne Nygaard) seeks qualified candidates for a number of undergraduate research assistantships for fall semester. No experience necessary, though the ideal candidate would have some previous coursework related to experimental psychology, language, perception, or neuroscience. Read this thoroughly but still have questions? Please contact Kelly McCormick at kelly.mccormick@emory.edu. Want to come aboard? Complete the application here.

The role of a Speech and Language lab assistant: Research assistants will apprentice in processing/editing recorded speech, psychology experiment design, participant recruiting, conducting testing, and analysis of resulting data. Opportunity for involvement in diverse studies on cross-linguistic sensory language, sound symbolism within and between languages, and accented speech perception. Applicants must be reliable and able to commit to 6+ hours/week in the lab (during business hours Mon-Fri) for the semester (excluding fall break and finals week). Research assistants would receive Psych 499 credit.

Specific projects 

Sound symbolism in language (detection study)– previous research in our lab and others has found that certain sounds in language more likely than others to be used in words with particular meanings, and that certain speech sounds are more likely to be associated with particular meanings than others. For example, when asked to match labels to shapes, the label kiki is more likely to be matched to a jagged/angular shape, whereas the label bouba tends to be matched to a more bloblike/rounded shape. We want to know why such sound-to-meaning mappings exist, and how they can affect perception. For example- can hearing particular sounds make us better at seeing things? Our study this semester seeks to answer this question.

Speech perception- Our work broadly addresses the psychosocial, linguistic, and cognitive factors that affect humans’ ability to perceive and understand spoken language. The influences on speech perception are manifold, and can be as local as the specific sounds in a word or as global as an individual’s lifetime experience with speech. One line of our research focuses on the mechanisms that allow language users to adapt and overcome adverse listening conditions (i.e. atypical speech, background noise, impaired hearing) and how changes in hearing ability affect our ability to adapt to degraded speech. We also study relationship between the effect of speech perception on subsequent speech production, a phenomenon called vocal alignment. By pursuing these avenues of research, we aim towards a more complete understanding of human mind, language, and thought.


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