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Dr Victoria Leong

Speech rhythm and temporal patterns of slow amplitude modulation in the speech envelope
Dr Victoria Leong

Junior Research Fellow, Department of Psychology

Speech rhythm and temporal patterns of slow amplitude modulation in the speech envelope


Departments and Institutes

Centre for Neuroscience in Education:

Research Interests

Victoria (Vicky) holds a Junior Research Fellowship from Lucy Cavendish College and is based at the Department of Psychology. She is a cognitive developmental neuroscientist whose interests lie in language development and dyslexia. She uses EEG and computational modelling to understand how the child's brain extracts phonological structure (patterns of prosody, syllables and onset-rime units) from the acoustic spectro-temporal structure of speech. This work is encapsulated in the theory of "Acoustic-Emergent Phonology". She is also interested in how phonological development goes awry in dyslexia, and in developing interventions to support children's language learning.

Vicky received her undergraduate degree in the Medical Sciences from the University of Cambridge (BA(Hons), 2001). After working as a special education teacher and in special education policy in Singapore, she returned to Cambridge for training in Psychology & Education (MPhil, 2007) and in Psychology (PhD, 2013). Vicky's doctoral work was supported by a Wingate Foundation Research Scholarship and by Funds for Women Graduates. 

Her PhD thesis "Prosodic Rhythm in the Speech Amplitude Envelope: Amplitude Modulation Phase Hierarchies (AMPHs) and AMPH Models" proposed a class of computational models that, like infants, can identify patterns of prosodic rhythm and syllables from the speech signal without requiring prior knowledge about language. The models used acoustic oscillatory signatures that can be mapped by neuronal oscillations in the brain. The models were then applied to understand how speaking in 'motherese' to children helps them to learn language, and how children with dyslexia struggle to extract rhythm and syllables correctly from speech. Vicky's PhD thesis was awarded the 2014 Robert J. Glushko Prize by the Cognitive Science Society, which recognises an outstanding dissertation in cognitive science. 

Keywords

  • Dyslexia
  • Language acquisition
  • Acoustics
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Computational linguistics
  • Speech rhythm
  • Reading
  • Psychology

Key Publications

Leong V, Kalashnikova M, Burnham D & Goswami U (2014). Infant-directed speech enhances temporal rhythmic structure in the envelope. INTERSPEECH 2014,  2563-2567. 

Leong V, Stone M, Turner R & Goswami U. (2014). A role for amplitude modulation phase relationships in speech rhythm perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136, 366-381. 

Leong V, & Goswami U (2014). Impaired extraction of speech rhythm from temporal modulation patterns in speech in developmental dyslexia. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:96. 

Leong, V., & Goswami, U. (in press). Assessment of rhythmic entrainment at multiple timescales in dyslexia : Evidence for disruption to syllable timing. Hearing Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2013.07.015

Soltesz, F., Szucs, D., Leong, V., White, S., & Goswami, U. (2013). Atypical entrainment of Delta oscillations to rhythmic stimulus streams in developmental dyslexia, PLOS One, 8(10): e76608. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076608

Goswami, U., Mead, N., Fosker,T., Huss, M., Barnes, L., & Leong,V. (2013). Impaired perception of syllable stress in children with dyslexia: A longitudinal study. Journal of Memory & Language, 69, 1-17.

Goswami, U. & Leong, V. (2013). Speech rhythm and temporal structure: Converging perspectives? Laboratory Phonology, 4, 67-92.

Thomson, J., Leong, V.,  Goswami, U. (2013). Auditory processing interventions and developmental dyslexia: a comparison of phonemic and rhythmic approaches, Reading and Writing, 26, 139-161.

Leong, V., Hamalainen, J., Soltesz, F., and Goswami, U. (2011). Rise time perception and detection of syllable stress in adults with developmental dyslexia. Journal of Memory and Language, 64, 59–73.