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Speech rate production and perception

Talkers produce speech at different rates, depending on factors that vary between talkers (age, gender, regional background, etc.) and within talkers (register, emotion, etc.). This research program focuses on the question how talkers manage to produce speech at different rates, on the one hand, and how listeners are able to understand speech produced at different rates, on the other hand. Researchers in this project use behavioral, neuro-imaging (oscillatory dynamics), and computational methods (modeling).

Keywords: speech rate; rate normalization; neural oscillations; entrainment; amplitude modulations; computational modeling.


Group members

Hans Rutger Bosker (lead researcher)

Andrea E. Martin

Peter Hagoort

Antje Meyer

Merel Maslowski (PhD student)

Joe Rodd (PhD student)

Greta Kaufeld (PhD student)


Jeonga Kim

Marjolein van Os


Main collaborators

Louis ten Bosch (Radboud University)

Martin Cooke (Ikerbasque, Basque Science Foundation, Bilbao, Spain)

Martin Corley (University of Edinburgh)

Mirjam Ernestus (Radboud University)

Oded Ghitza (Boston University)

Ole Jensen (University of Birmingham)

Anne Kösem (Radboud University)

Hugo Quené (Utrecht University)

Eva Reinisch (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)

Matthias Sjerps (University of California, Berkeley; Radboud University)


Former members

Momo Yamamura (BA intern)

Wibke Naumann (BA intern)

Anna Ravenschlag (MA intern)


About this research program:

Research centers around three main topics:


1. Variation in speech rate perception

Hans Rutger Bosker, Eva Reinisch, Matthias Sjerps, Oded Ghitza, Martin Cooke, Anne Kösem, Ole Jensen, Peter Hagoort

We investigate how listeners are able to understand speech produced at different rates. Listeners are known to interpret temporal cues to phonemic contrasts (e.g., vowel length) relative to the speech rate of the surrounding context. We aim to reveal the auditory and cognitive mechanisms underlying rate normalization using behavioral methods and neuro-imaging (MEG). Work is performed within a neurobiological framework, involving entrainment (phase-locking) of endogenous oscillations in the brain to the slow amplitude modulations in the speech signal. Outcomes contribute to our understanding of speech perception in general and its neurobiological implementations.

Selection of output:

  • Bosker, H. R. (2016). Accounting for rate-dependent category boundary shifts in speech perception. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 79, 333-343. doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1206-4.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Reinisch, E. (2017). Foreign languages sound fast: evidence from implicit rate normalization. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1063. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01063.
  • Bosker, H. R., Reinisch, E., & Sjerps, M. J. (2017). Cognitive load makes speech sound fast, but does not modulate acoustic context effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 94, 166-176. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.12.002.


2. Variation in speech rate production

Joe Rodd (PhD student), Hans Rutger Bosker, Louis ten Bosch, Antje Meyer, Mirjam Ernestus

We investigate the psychological mechanisms underlying the short-term regulation of speech rate. Talkers can speak at different rates, speeding up or slowing down as required by the communicative situation. Although the regulation of speech rate clearly is an important component of our communicative skills set, there has hardly been any research into the underlying psycholinguistic mechanisms. The project includes two tightly linked components: the development of a computationally implemented model of speech planning that captures speaking at different rates and a series of experiments designed to assess predictions of the model. Results of this research contribute to our understanding of the regulation of speech rate and to theories about the interface of the speech production system with executive control and articulation.

Selection of output:

  • Rodd, J., Bosker, H. R., ten Bosch, L., Meyer, A. S., & Ernestus, M. (2017). How we regulate speech rate: phonetic evidence for a 'gain strategy' in speech planning. Poster presented at the Abstraction, Diversity, and Speech Dynamics workshop, Herrsching am Ammersee, Germany.
  • Rodd, J., Bosker, H. R., Ernestus, M., Meyer, A. S., & Ten Bosch, L. (2017). Simulating speaking rate control: A spreading activation model of syllable timing. Poster presented at the Conversational speech and lexical representations Workshop, Nijmegen.


3. Interface speech rate production - speech rate perception

Merel Maslowski (PhD student), Hans Rutger Bosker, Antje Meyer

The aim of this research strand is to investigate how speech rate production and speech rate perception interact. In natural conversation, our own speech and the speech of others follow each other in rapid succession. Context effects (such as rate normalization) are well known in speech perception but studies of how our own voice may influence our perception of others are scarce. We investigate how our own speech rate at a given moment in time changes the way we perceive others. We also try to investigate what role talkers’ habitual rates (some talkers are simply faster talkers than others) play in perception. Results contribute to our understanding of the interface between the production system and the comprehension system, and dialogue in general.

 Selection of output:

  • Bosker, H. R. (2017). How our own speech rate influences our perception of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(8), 1225-1238. doi:10.1037/xlm0000381.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2017). Whether long-term tracking of speech rate affects perception depends on who is talking. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 586-590). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1517.
  • Maslowski, M., Bosker, H. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2016). Slow speech can sound fast: How the speech rate of one talker has a contrastive effect on the perception of another talker. Poster presented at the 22nd Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2016), Bilbao, Spain.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2016). When slow speech sounds fast: How the speech rate of one talker influences perception of another talker. Talk at the Abstraction, Diversity, and Speech Dynamics workshop, Herrsching am Ammersee, Germany.



Last checked 2018-06-12 by Hans Rutger Bosker
Psychology of Language

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The Netherlands

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The Netherlands

Phone:  +31-24-3521336
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Director: Antje Meyer