Auditory Perception & Speech Lab

Lab description

The Auditory Perception and Speech Lab is located on the 4th floor  of the newly renovated Friedman Building on the Vancouver (Point Grey) Campus of the University of British Columbia. The lab facilities include software and hardware for the recording, analysis, editing, and synthesis of sound signals, and a sound-insulated booth for carrying out perception experiments and sound recordings.

What we do

Research in the lab focuses on three areas within the field of speech and hearing sciences:

  1. Auditory scene analysis. Within this theme, research by lab members has investigated the ability to recognize a sound (such as speech or music) in the presence of other sounds. This research focuses on auditory perception and speech recognition by adult listeners with normal hearing, by children with normal hearing and in adults with hearing impairments (particularly, cochlear implant users). The overall goal of this theme is to understand how the brain processes mixtures of sounds, and how this processing differs in individuals with hearing disorders and in the developing brain, in comparison with the abilities of adults with normal hearing.
  2. Speech perception and production. The focus of this theme is the relationship between the acoustic characteristics (production) and the perception (recognition) of speech sounds by speakers with cerebral palsy, speakers with cleft lip and palate, speakers with hearing impairments, and speakers with no known speech or hearing impairment. The goal of this research is to understand the articulatory strategies used by individuals with disordered speech production systems, and to understand how listeners are able to recognize atypical speech signals. This research has implications for the development of improved diagnostic tests and therapy programs for individuals with speech disorders.
  3. Pitch perception and production. The focus of this theme is to understand the pitch perception and production abilities of adults and of typically developing children, with a specific focus on the perception and production of (pitch-based) lexical tones in Cantonese. Foci of this research have been the study of the acquisition of Cantonese tones, as well as the perception and production of lexical tones and intonation in individuals with communication disorders (hearing impaired listeners including cochlear implant users, speakers with cerebral palsy, children with language or speech disorders). The main goals of this research are: to understand the nature of hearing, language and speech disorders through the study of the auditory skills that are required for the accurate perception of pitch, and to increase our knowledge about the use of pitch cues in speech perception and production.

Who we are

  • Valter Ciocca, PhD, Professor (Lab director)
  • Alison Bruderer, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow (agreuel[AT]
  • Ilse Labuschagne, PhD student

Previous members:

  • Nicholas Haywood, PhD, Post-doctoral fellow
  • Julie Chang, Student research assistant
  • Judy Chong, Student research assistant
  • Ashley Sirko, research assistant

Previous members who completed their MSc theses in the lab:

  • Leah Buchholz
  • Amy Makaroff
  • Halen Panchyk
  • Ryan Kalef

Current collaborators at UBC and other institutions:

  • Denis Burnham (MARCS, University of Western Sydney)
  • Laurent Mottron (Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal)
  • Sipke Pijl and Brian Westerberg (UBC)
  • Tara Whitehill, Anita Wong, and Lena Wong (University of Hong Kong)
  • Patrick Wong (Northwestern University)

Current Projects

Whole Word Accuracy: Seeking SLP Listeners

Invitation to SLPs to be part of a Study: “Identification of whole word accuracy in preschool children’s speech by SLP listeners in both familiar and unfamiliar languages”.

Increasingly, SLPs need to work with clients who do not speak the same language(s) as the SLP. Between July and December 2020, we will be conducting a study in three places (BC, Ottawa, Kuwait) with SLPs whose first languages are Arabic, French, and English. For BC, we invite first language English SLPs to participate.

The experiment will take about an hour and can be done on your own computer or if COVID restrictions permit later on, at UBC. Once you consider participating we will send you a document explaining the study and the languages, and a consent form to upload to a secure UBC site. In the experiment, you will have a short training module for English. Then you will hear single words from nine children (three speaking English, three French, and three Arabic). Each word will be paired with a phonetic transcription of the adult target. You will be asked to judge whether the children’s pronunciations fully match the adult target or not (No transcription, just a whole word match identification). Each child’s data will be presented as a set, and you will start with English. You can then upload your responses to the same secure website online. A small gift certificate will be offered. If interested in further information, please contact Barbara May Bernhardt at Thank you for your interest. And we hope that you stay safe and healthy.