Welcome to the 10th issue of "Speech, Hearing and Language:
UCL Work in Progress", reflecting research in the fields
of Speech Sciences, Hearing and Phonetics.
Included here is work resulting from European and nationally-funded
projects, as well as research by postgraduate students within
the Department. We are particularly proud of the mix of applied
and basic work, and strive to bring our hard-won knowledge of
the processes of speech and hearing to real-world problems.
We have taken a different approach to the ordering of papers in
this edition, grouping contributions by area. The first 4 papers
describe various aspects of our work in cochlear implants, relating
both to implant design and patient performance. These are followed
by a pair of papers on a closely related topic -- the coding of
speech information acoustically for profoundly hearing-impaired
listeners. These are areas that we have been active in for over
20 years, and they represent a significant proportion of our research
The next three papers explore the way in which crucial perceptual
cues can be enhanced in the acoustic speech signal in order to
make it more robust to corruption by, for example, noise or reverberation.
Such studies rely, of course on basic studies of the relationship
between the acoustic form of the speech signal and our perception
of it, the general theme of the following two papers.
Studies of speech production have also formed a focus of our research
over the years, and the next paper explores the effects of relative
degrees of hydration on voice. Following that is a study representing
an extension of the methods developed for speech production to
another function of the vocal anatomy -- swallowing.
Finally, there is a paper which represents another relatively
new research area, although related to the study of the speech
perceptual abilities of dyslexics reported by Adlard and Hazan
in these pages in 1994 (and now published in the Quarterly Journal
of Experimental Psychology). Here the more general auditory skills
of two children with language disorders are investigated, with
a view not only towards determining the causes of the disorders,
but also towards appropriate rehabilitative schemes. This paper
represents another foray into the investigation of more central
aspects of auditory processing, a research area that is growing
in the department, and which we will see evidence of in future
The last year has seen a number of changes in our staff. Andrew
Simpson has moved to Vocalis, a commercial speech technology company
based outside Cambridge. Roel Smits has joined the Philips Research
Laboratories to work on speech coding. Jianing Wei is providing
support to implant teams all over the U.K. in her role for Advanced
Bionics, a manufacturer of cochlear implants, and Linda Stollwerck
has moved to the Cochlear Implant Programme at the Royal National
Throat Nose and Ear Hospital in Gray's Inn Road. Although we regret
their departure, we are pleased to see that we are able, in what
many see as our 'ivory tower', to provide the kind of training
and environment that develop skills found to be useful in the
commercial and clinical spheres.
We also welcome four new members of staff. Mark Downing, who has
been working on the materials aspect of our cochlear implant project,
has moved to our department from Medical Physics. Harriet Lang,
who was a student in the department, and has worked previously
here as a researcher, returned to assist in work with cochlear
implants and a computer-based initiative for teaching ear-training.
Sarah Barrett joined to work with Valerie Hazan on the development
of speech-perceptual abilities in children, and is also to be
congratulated for obtaining her Ph.D. We look forward to reading
about both these aspects of her work in future issues. Finally,
Alex Fang, who is working on a number of projects in computational
linguistics, has been able to join us at Wolfson House. He brings
important linguistic skills to our work in speech and hearing
science, particularly with regard to speech synthesis and recognition.
Although University College London provides extensive support
for our endeavours, much of our work would not be possible without
additional funding from outside bodies. We are therefore honoured
to acknowledge contributions from the the Clothworkers Foundation,
Defeating Deafness (The Hearing Research Trust), the Engineering
and Physical Sciences Research Council, the European Union (under
TIDE, TMR, Copernicus and Language Resources and Engineering),
the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
Stuart Rosen, Roel Smits and Martyn Holland