vocalization & speech

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This javascript app calculates a spectrogram from the input to your computer's microphone. (You may have to adjust the sensitivity a bit.) A spectrogram is in some ways similar to the activity pattern that auditory nerve fibers send to your brain, so you can use this spectrogram app to visualize what various sounds or speech would "look like" to your brain. You can pause the spectrogram by clicking on it.

Two Formant Artificial Vowels

A little interactive demo to illustrate the role formants play in vowel sounds.

Video of Lecture 6: Vocalizations and Speech




Lecture handouts and some video recordings of lectures given to the 2nd year biomedical science course in Audiotory Neuroscience.


1) The nature of sound

2) Ear and Brain

Music to Deaf Ears - podcast

This podcast by science journalist Dr Carinne Piekema explores how hearing loss affects people, in particular how it affects musicians, and what modern prosthetic devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants can and cannot do for these patients. It contains insightful interviews with inspirational deaf musicians, some of the UKs leading hearing researchers, as well as simulations designed to show to normal listeners what it would be like to have to rely on a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.

You can listen to the podcast here,

Lecture: Cortical Representations of Complex Sounds

This video clip shows a presentation on the Cortical Representation of Complex Sounds given by Jan Schnupp at a symposium of the British Neuroscience Association meeting in Harrogate on April 18th 2011. 

Vowels are not strictly periodic


One of the most important classes of sounds that have pitch in the natural environment are voiced speech sounds. However, like many other naturally-produced sounds, these sounds are not strictly periodic. In spite of this, they produce a strong sense of pitch. Sounds that are not strictly periodic but that do evoke pitch are in fact the rule, rather than the exception.

Here is a naturally-produced human vowel:

Elliot and Theunissen addressed this question by calculating the "modulation spectra" of speech as shown here:

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