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Easy speaking and effortless listening

In this talk, researchers from seven European countries explore how we can reduce this 'communication effort'.

pexels via Pixabay

Event description

Speaking and listening to people can be difficult in situations such as crowded rooms or when speaking a second language.

In this talk, researchers from seven European countries explore how we can reduce this 'communication effort'.

Following the panel discussion you can try your hand at a variety of demonstrations: listen to artificially enhanced speech, see your brainwaves and pupil dilation while listening to noise, and much more. You can find the full list further down this page.

To find out more about the European Union project sponsoring this research, see

About the speakers

Martin Cooke is Ikerbasque Professor (Basque Foundation for Science) at the University of the Basque Country in Spain. Prior to this, he was Professor of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, UK. His research focuses on listening in noise and how speakers modify their voices in difficult listening environments. He will explain what communication effort is and why reducing it is an important scientific challenge, before introducing the remainder of the evening’s talks.

Patti Adank is an associate professor at UCL working on speech perception and production. She has studied how younger and older adults understand distorted speech signals using brain imaging and brain stimulation methods. She has a special interest in how listeners manage to quickly adapt to a variety of environmental and listener-related distortions. In her talk, she will discuss which groups are most likely to experience communication effort.

Anita Wagner has been studying the perceptual and cognitive mechanism that underlie speech comprehension, and how these mechanism adapt in face of adverse conditions, such hearing loss, hearing prostheses, or non-native communication. She is currently a senior research fellow in the ENT Department of the University Medical Centre Groningen. In her talk, she will introduce methods used to measure communication effort.

Simon King is Professor of Speech Processing and director of the Centre for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh. His research spans speech synthesis, recognition and signal processing. In his talk, he will showcase technology that automatically modifies speech to reduce communication effort.


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.

Hands on demos will be ready to explore after the talk. 


Speech production and perception - Conversation room

'Ignore your voice' by Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

'Tinnitus, an interactive sound sculpture' by Queen Mary University of London; UCL, London, UK.

'Can you lipread German?' by Hörzentrum Oldenburg GmbH, Germany.

'Twisting your tongues' by Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, the Netherlands.

'Problem-solving when you can’t hear easily: how effortful is it?’ by UCL, London, UK.

'What does a cochlea implant sound like?' by University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands.

Speech modifications - Mezzanine

'From Casual to Clear Speech' by University of Crete, Greece; University of Edinburgh, UK.

'Enriching disordered speech' by University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain.

'Tuning speech for pleasant listening' by University of the Basque Country; Ikerbasque (Basque Science Foundation), Spain.

Physiological measurements - Sunley room

'What your eyes reveal about listening effort' by University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands.

'Electroencephalography (EEG) for Speech Perception Research' by UCL, London, UK.

'Zap your brain' by UCL, London, UK.

Automatic enrichment - Introduction space

'Boosting the intelligibility of speech playback' by Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh, UK.

'Neural based processing of noisy speech for intelligibility enhancement' by Speech Signal processing lab (SSPL), University of Crete, Greece.

'Effort-free telly' by Fraunhofer IDMT, Germany.

'Listen Easy: Reducing listening effort LIVE!' by Fraunhofer IDMT, Germany.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.