Good listeners and smooth talkers: Spoken communication in a challenging world

7.00pm start (ends ~9.30pm), Tuesday 20 January

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Conversation


Standard £12

Concession £8

Associate £6

Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows

Event description

Everyday spoken communication typically occurs in complicated, distracting and noisy environments. Join researchers from seven European countries for talks and interactive demonstrations, exploring what influences the ability to understand speech, what makes a ‘listener’ good or bad (whether human or machine), and what talkers do to smooth the way to better communication. 

After the talk, you can get interactive with hands-on demonstrations. Hear what it sounds like to have a cochlear implant, make a working model of your vocal tract, see speech waves and even watch a live display of the melody of your voice.

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

About the speakers

Having begun his research in a team developing one of the earliest cochlear implant systems, Stuart Rosen is now a Professor of Speech and Hearing Science at UCL. Much of his current work investigates the perception of speech in background noises of different types, with a wide variety of 'noises' and listener groups, including people with autism and language impairment.

Mark Huckvale is Senior Lecturer in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UCL. His expertise is in the application of computational techniques to the study of speech science and technology. Recent research work has been on the enhancement of poor-quality speech recordings, on changing the identity of a speaker and on measuring the effect of fatigue on voice.

Esther Janse has worked on speech comprehension in healthy younger and older adults, and in adults with language problems after stroke, with a particular interest in individual differences. She is currently associate professor at the Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Sven Mattys is a professor of psychology at the University of York. His research focuses on the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in recognising speech, with a special interest in speech perception when the listener is simultaneously challenged by other tasks, like remembering a telephone number.

Odette Scharenborg is an associate professor at the Centre for Language and Speech at Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands). Much of her work has focused on building computer models that are able to perceive speech in a human-like way. Currently, she works on the perception of speech in background noise by people using a language that is not their
native one.

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