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Dr Victoria Leong awarded Robert J. Glushko Prize

last modified Apr 16, 2014 12:45 PM

Our congratulations to Dr Victoria Leong for her outstanding dissertation in cognitive science which won her the Robert J. Glushko Dissertation Prize. The award from the Cognitive Science Society is in recognition of her ground-breaking research that successfully bridges several disciplines. The prize, which is worth $10,000, will be presented to Victoria at the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Quebec in July, where she will also present her work. Victoria's dissertation was titled 'Prosodic rhythm in the speech amplitude envelope: Amplitude Modulation Phase Hierarchies (AMPHs) & AMPH models'. She developed 'artificially intelligent' computational models that, like infants, could identify patterns of prosodic rhythm and syllables from the speech signal without requiring prior knowledge about language. The models used acoustic oscillatory signatures that can be mapped by neuronal oscillations in the brain. She then applied these models to understand how speaking in 'motherese' to children helps them to learn language, and how children with dyslexia struggle to extract rhythm and syllables correctly from speech. Thus, the work in the dissertation spanned the fields of psychology, education, linguistics, neuroscience, computational modelling and speech acoustics. Victoria's current work as a Junior Research Fellow, based in the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, extends this research by looking at how the baby brain uses the speech signal to learn language in real life, and by developing techniques to artificially enhance speech to better support children's language learning.