Research Labs

Our faculty members work closely with undergraduate and graduate level students on a wide variety of research topics related to human communication and its disorders. Through a range of research experiences, our students have a unique opportunity to explore the boundaries of what is currently known on how we hear, perceive, produce and understand speech and language. Our students investigate innovative ways to assess and treat individuals with communication disorders in a dynamic and collaborative setting. Many students become co-authors on peer-reviewed publications. See publications with student co-authors.

Below is a description of our labs, personnel, and some current or previous research activities.

Director: Pelagie Beeson, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Kindle Rising, MS, CCC-SLP, Chelsea Bayley, MS, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 308

Links: Dr. Beeson’s website

The Aphasia Research Project is an active research environment devoted to the study of aphasia and related disorders. Our efforts are directed toward understanding the nature of aphasia caused by stroke and other neurological disorders, and developing effective treatments for acquired impairments of spoken and written language. Learn more about the Aphasia Research Project.

Director: Barbara Cone, PhD, CCC-A

Cone lab 5.jpg

Jennifer Casteix

Key Collaborators: David Velenovsky, PhD, CCC-A, Arve Asbjornsen, PhD (University of Bergen, Norway) Student Research Assistants:

Location: Room 315C

Work in the AHEAD lab is focused on the electrophysiology of infant speech perception. How do infants develop the capacity to hear and understand speech? What are infants’ speech feature detection and discrimination abilities? How can we assay those abilities using psychophysical (behavioral) and electrophysiologic methods? Our efforts are focused on auditory development in early infancy because this is the period during which the early detection and intervention for hearing loss can have enormous benefit. It is important to study normal auditory system development so that we can translate our research findings into insights and methods that will allow us to successfully treat the infant with hearing loss.

Director: Nicole Marrone, PhD, CCC-A

Key Personnel: Aileen Wong, AuD, CCC-A; Giau Le, AuD, CCC-A

Student Researchers: Laura Coco, AuD, Alyssa Everett, Chloe Robbins, Adriana Sanchez, Karla Navarro, Jaclyn Tom, Julie Thein, Samantha Sekator, Clemente Morales, Suzanne Moseley, Bryan Wong, Sarah Broughton, Anette Real-Arrayga

Location: Rooms 403, 109 (soundfield), and 207

In the Audiologic Rehabilitation Lab, our research seeks to improve quality of life and quality of care for adults living with hearing loss, with an emphasis on health equity. We take an ecological and biopsychosocial approach to the study of communication. We are interested in the links between auditory and cognitive abilities that affect communication when using hearing aids, outcomes of rehabilitative interventions, and how changes in hearing impact daily life for individuals and their families. Our research group includes undergraduates, graduate students, and clinical faculty collaborators from the University of Arizona Hearing Clinics. Our NIH-funded research seeks to reduce disparities in access to hearing health care in collaboration with faculty and community members in public health, psychology, Spanish, and translation studies (“Oyendo Bien” or Hearing Well). Our lab members also lead several community-engaged outreach projects including: UA Living Well with Hearing Loss program, The Protect Your Ears Project (an afterschool hearing conservation program), Viviendo Bien con Pérdida Auditiva (Spanish-language peer support), and the Living Well with Hearing Loss community lecture series.

Director: Huanping Dai, PhD

Location: Room 308

Research in this lab is concerned with auditory perception of complex sounds by human listeners. On the empirical side, we design and carry out behavioral (psychophysical) experiments to study listeners’ ability to extract useful information from various sounds, and how this ability is affected by hearing disorders. On the theoretical side, we construct computational models to characterize the listeners’ individual listening behavior, and to predict their performance in perceptual tasks. While the primary focus of our research is on the basic-science aspects of auditory perception, we also work on applied issues related to hearing, including the application of statistical and psychophysical principles and methods to the diagnoses of hearing disorders, and the signal processing for amplification.

Director: David Velenovsky, PhD, CCC-A

Faculty Members: Linda Norrix, PhD, CCC-A 

Student Researchers: Clemente Morales, Jennifer Shi, Sarah Mackenzie, Liza Clark, Samantha Sekator, Jessica Fuggiti, Elissa Kawamoto, Brenden Bagnoli, Jennifer Emerson.

Location: SLHS Rooms 226 and 230

Members of the “Reflectance Lab” have diverse research interests including studies exploring pupilometry as a measure of cognitive load, auditory information processing, the effects of high noise levels on hearing as well as acoustic reflex measures using wideband power reflectance and transmittance. Beyond the goal of pursuing research that contributes to a better understanding of human auditory function, we also strive to increase interest in hearing and hearing science among undergraduate and graduate students.

Director: Leah Fabiano-Smith, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Chelsea Privette, MS, Megan Figueroa

Location: Room 501

Links: Bilingual Phonology Lab website

Bilingual children acquire two languages in the same amount of time that monolingual children learn only one. How do they do that? The Bilingual Phonology Lab at the University of Arizona aims to find out. The long-term goals of the Bilingual Phonology Lab are to (1) determine the trajectory of typical acquisition in bilingual children, taking into consideration how the two languages of bilingual children interact; (2) determine how disorder presents itself in a child that maintains two speech sound systems, and (3) develop evidence-based assessment and intervention tools to help bilingual children with phonological disorders become effective communicators in both of their languages.

Director: Leah Kappa, PhD

Student Researchers: Jessica Sickels, and Chelye Smith

Location: Room 334

The Language and Cognition Lab focuses on the interaction between language and cognitive abilities, with a specific focus on executive functioning (e.g., memory, attention, planning), in individuals with typical and disordered language development. We address questions about the effects of self-directed language on executive function performance, the potential contribution of executive function skills to the process of language learning, and the effectiveness of executive function intervention programs for improving cognitive and/or language abilities in children.

Director: Mary Alt, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Cecilia Figueroa, MS, CCC-SLP (Project Director)

Location: Rooms 322/324

Links: L4 Lab website

The L4 Lab’s research is centered on answering this question: How do people learn words and the concepts associated with those words? The answers to this question are fundamental to our understanding of language development and disorders of language and learning. My lab approaches this larger question from three angles: 1) word learning (learning the names of things), 2) concept learning (learning the meanings of the words), and 3) clarifying how learning manifests in people who are bilingual. My research often integrates these three components, and is extending findings from our lab into clinically-driven research.

Director: Aneta Kielar, PhD

Key Personnel:

Location: Room 332

Links: Dr. Kielar's website

The Language and Neuroimaging Research Lab explores neural correlates of language processing. We use a combination of structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to understand how neural dynamics are impacted by stroke, neurodegenerative disorders and aging. We are interested in recovery of function, and treatment approaches involving speech-language therapy in combination with noninvasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

Director: Meghan Darling-White, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Rooms 301 and 530

Links: Motor Speech Research Lab website

The long-term goal of the Motor Speech Research lab is to develop and validate evidence-based interventions that improve speech production skills in people with motor speech disorders. To address this goal, our lab uses a combination of kinematic, aerodynamic, acoustic and perceptual analyses to examine how physiologic changes to the speech subsystems (e.g., respiratory, phonatory, articulatory) impact speech intelligibility and naturalness. Our current work focuses on respiratory function during speech production in children with cerebral palsy.

Director: Frank E. Musiek, PhD, CCC-A

Research Associates: Gail Chermak, Ph.D., Doris Bamiou, MSc, MD (London), Peter M. Scheifele, PhD, Elaine Schochat, PhD (Sao Paulo), Jennifer Shinn, PhD, Stephanie Nagle, PhD, Jennifer McCullagh, AuD/PhD, Jeffrey Weihing, PhD, Shannon Palmer, AuD/PhD, Shiv. Shivashankar, PhD (Banglore, India), Jennifer Gonzalez AuD, Ph.D., Julianne Ceruti , AuD, Ph.D; Stephanie Waryasz, AuD. Student Research Assistants: Barrett St. George, Alyssa Everett, Bryan Wong, Carrie Clancy, Jillian Bushor, Maggie Schefer

Location: Rooms 315 and 525

Links: Dr. Musiek’s website

Neuroaudiology is a new aspect of auditory study that focuses research on the audiological effect of various disorders of the auditory nervous system. Both behavioral (psychoacoustics) and electrophysiological approaches are utilized in the investigation and evaluation and treatment of these disorders . A major part of Neuroaudiology is central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) for which both diagnostic and intervention strategies are investigated in both children and adults. The lab also commands efforts in the functional neuroanatomy of the human auditory system.

Director: Elena Plante, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Rebecca Vance, MS, CCC-SLP, Diane Patterson, PhD, Trianna Oglivie, PhD, CCC-SLP, 

Location: Room 334

Links: The Plante Lab website

Current work in Dr. Plante’s lab focuses on learning and assessment. The lab is focused on discovering how both children and adults with developmental language disorders learn from a behavioral and neurobiological perspective. Behavioral studies are designed to determine what conditions facilitate rapid learning and whether those with language impairment benefit from the same factors that facilitate learning for non-impaired individuals. Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies are designed to examine whether the neural resources dedicated to learning are the same for impaired and normal learners.

Directors: Brad Story, PhD, and Kate Bunton, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 307

Links: Speech Acoustics Lab website

Research in the Speech Acoustics Laboratory is focused on the following areas: speech acoustics and articulation (kinematics) related to both development of speech production and disordered speech production, mechanical measures of velopharyngeal function, speech simulation and volumetric imaging of the vocal tract. Longitudinal data collection is underway involving children ages 2-6 years and adults with speech disorders. Computerized models are used in our laboratory to aid in understanding how the physical shapes and sizes of both the voice source components and the vocal tract contribute to the sound of the human voice.

Director: Jeannette Hoit, PhD, CCC-SLP, and Kate Bunton, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 307

Links: Speech Acoustics Lab website

Research projects in the speech research lab focus on normal and abnormal speech motor control. Many of the projects have been devoted to understanding the influence of development and aging on respiratory, laryngeal, and velopharyngeal function during speech production. Others have been designed to elucidate the impact of linguistic and biomechanic variables on speech physiology, vocal characteristics of skilled performers, and mechanisms underlying interactions between ventilatory drives and speech production requirements.

Director: Robin Samlan, PhD, CCC-SLP

Other Personnel: Dori Smith, DMA, MS, CCC-SLP; Natalie Monahan, MS, CCC-SLP; Amanda Stark, MS, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 301

Links: University of Arizona Voice Lab

Our long-term goal in the Voice Lab is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breathy voice disorders, particularly the breathy/weak voices associated with age-related dysphonia, vocal fold paralysis, and Parkinson disease. We use tools such as laryngeal high-speed video of vocal fold vibration, acoustic and aerodynamic studies, computational modeling, and listening studies in our work.

Director: Julie Miller, PhD

Location: Gould Simpson, Room 423

Links: Dr. Miller’s website

Work in the WINGSS laboratory focuses on the identification and characterization of molecular pathways in the brain that support speech mechanisms. We carry out these investigations in the zebra finch songbird model which shares a number of similarities to human vocal learning and production. Methods include a combination of behavioral, molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological and bioinformatic approaches that enable us to link changes at the molecular/cellular levels to alterations in neural circuits for song behavior. This is studied with respect to normal song development and on-going maintenance of learned vocalizations. We also examine perturbations of the song system, to mimic vocal problems associated with human disorders.