Julia Spong, University of Virginia
The voice lab at the University of Virginia, run by Dr. Nicholas Barone in collaboration with a group of graduate and undergraduate speech pathology students, has done some exciting research this Fall semester. Our most recent study, spearheaded by PhD candidate, Erin Roberts and undergraduate student, Tanapun Chaikulngamdee, studied motor mirror neurons during categorical perception. The purposes of the study were to explain non-native phoneme perception through the analysis-by-synthesis theory, to describe activation patterns associated with categorical perception, and to discuss the potential use of fNIRS in speech and hearing science research. Participants were divided into two categories, Thai and English speakers, and given identification tasks involving native English and native Thai phonemes. Oxygenated, deoxygenated and hemoglobin concentration changes were measured in the brain using fNIRS technology to determine cortical responses. Analysis of the study results is still underway and we are very excited to share our finding with the Speech Pathology field!