Contact Details
Address: Faculty of Music
University of Cambridge
11 West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DP
Email: sh110 at cam ac uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 761060

Director of Research
in Speech and Music Science

Publications: Peer-reviewed papers
Conference papers etc

Visiting Professor
Dept. of Anglophone Studies
Metropolitan University Prague
Czech Republic
Sarah Hawkins

Current Research and Collaborations

I am interested in how humans communicate using sound-based systems. Most of my research to date has asked how the brain processes the speech signal to understand the meaning of what was said. In this interdisciplinary work, I ask questions like

  • How does sound map onto meaning? Are the levels and units of standard linguistic description essential to the process, or by-products of a more general pattern-matching process?

  • What can sensory illusions tell us about the way the brain interprets the speech signal?

  • How do perceptual responses vary according to the style of speech and the task participants are given?

I have recently joined the Centre for Music and Science to extend these interests towards music cognition, and interaction and performance. I also support members of the CMS whose work addresses speech and language.

My approach to experimental research is to use stimuli that are as natural as possible while still being tightly controlled, e.g. phonetically, and to vary the task conditions in various ways. My work links with cognitive psychology, music cognition, speech recognition, and speech synthesis.

From 2003-6 I held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship to extend my work on speech perception into neuropsychology and computational modelling.

One outcome was Sound to Sense (S2S), a Marie Curie Research Training Network involving 14 institutions in 11 countries. We aim to bring together research on fine phonetic detail with computer modelling of human and machine speech recognition. This training programme for pre-and post-doctoral students started in May 2007 and runs until 2011.

Another outcome is collaboration with Antje Heinrich on an ERA AGE FLARE grant: Age-related changes in the use of linguistic cues for speech intelligibility in adverse listening conditions.

I welcome enquries from prospective PhD students interested in these and related areas.

Other Research Interests

Past research includes

  • Contributions to speech synthesis for British English (Infovox and ProSynth systems);
  • Acoustic correlates of distinctive features;
  • Temporal coordination and rhythm in children’s speech.
  • Teaching for the Music Faculty to be added
  • MPhil and PhD theses

    Peer-reviewed papers
    Conference papers etc

    Professional Societies
    Acoustical Society of America (Fellow)
    British Association of Academic Phoneticians (BAAP)
    British Neuropsychological Society
    Cognitive Neuroscience Society
    International Phonetic Association (IPA)
    International Speech Communication Association (ISCA)

  • Faculty of Music Home | Centre for Music and Science | Phonetics Lab | Teaching | PhD Students