Spoken Language Laboratory

Department of Psychology
University of Kansas

011 Fraser Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045

Lab Phone: 785-864-9484

Director: Michael S. Vitevitch, Ph.D.

Research Overview
Links of Interest

Research Overview:

Most people know, or have stored in memory, approximately 20,000-30,000 words. If you have ever tried to look through 20,000 things for the one object you are looking for you know that it can take some time. Yet when we speak, or are spoken to, the words we are looking for seem to be found instantaneously.

In the Spoken Language Laboratory (SLL) we examine how information pertaining to words is stored in memory (e.g., alphabetically like a dictionary, in the order of how often a word is used, in groups of similar sounding words, etc.) and how the organization of those words in memory enables us to access that information so quickly and accurately. More precisely, we study the nature and organization of lexical representations and the processes used to retrieve information from the mental lexicon during speech production and speech perception (or spoken word recognition). We are currently using mathematical tools from the emerging field known as network science to measure the structure that exists among phonological word-forms in the mental lexicon, and employing conventional tasks from Psycholinguistics to examine how that global structure influences language-related processes (such as spoken word recognition and speech production). Furthermore, we are using computational models to assess the ability of current psycholinguistic theories to account for these effects. 

Here is a Wordle description of our work.

To learn about our latest discoveries follow us on twitter: @mvitevit

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Michael S. Vitevitch, Ph.D.      mvitevit@ku.edu                   Community of Science Profile
Professor and Principal Investigator
Joint-Editor of Language & Speech

Current Graduate Students:

Nichol Castro (Cognitive Psychology-Gerontology)
Cynthia S.Q. Siew (Cognitive Psychology)
Graduate Student Alumni:
Jonna Armbruster (M.A., Cognitive Psychology)
Alex Donoso (M.A., Cognitive Psychology)
Eva Rodríguez (Ph.D., Linguistics)
Melissa Stamer (Ph.D., Education)
Kit Ying "Vivien" Chan (Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology)
Rudy Goldstein (Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology)
Undergraduate Alumni:
Revital Berkowitz
Michelle Crawford
Erin Edelheit
Duncan Eshelman
Katy Evans
Andy Golden
Stacy Greenbaum
Jen Grode
Libby Johnson
Shannon Layman
David B. Levine
Bryn Maughmer
Nate McKee
Rachel Nadolna
Sophie Pohorecki
Jennifer Stafford
Ryan Taber
Brad Torgler
Thu Vo
Betsy Tampke
Josh Mendoza
Libby Lewis
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The Spoken Language Laboratory in the Psychology Department at the University of Kansas is well equipped for the experimental and computational study of speech production and speech perception (more precisely, spoken word recognition). The lab is an L-shaped room in Fraser Hall (approximately 430 sq ft.) and is conveniently located next to an anechoic IAC booth (approx. 14.5 ft X 17.5 ft) that is used for making high-quality recordings.

Data Collection

One branch of the L-shaped lab is devoted to the collection of behavioral data using the PsyScope experimental design and control program on several iMacs (700 MHz). Keyspan USB Twin Serial port adapters allow the USB-based iMacs to interface with the 8-pin serial connection of the PsyScope button boxes. The PsyScope button boxes (made by New Micros) are used to record responses with millisecond accuracy. For the typical perceptual experiment, auditory stimuli (stored as 16-bit digital files sampled at a rate of 44.1 kHz) are presented over BeyerDynamic Headphones (DT-100). Responses are made in the form of manual button presses using the buttons provided on the response box. Click here for a picture of the set-up used for the typical speech perception experiment.

For the typical production experiment, line drawings stored as digital files (such as those made available by J.G. Snodgrass through Life Science Associates) are presented on the monitor. Verbal responses to the pictures trip a switch on the back of the PsyScope button box via a BeyerDynamic Headphone mounted microphone (DT-109). Click here for a picture of the set-up used for the typical speech production experiment.

Stimulus and Data Processing

The other branch of the L-shaped lab is devoted to the preparation of stimuli and the analysis of behavioral data on several Macintosh G4 computers (one 733 MHz and two Dual Processor 800 MHz). In preparing auditory stimuli, recordings are made in the adjacent anechoic chamber onto DAT using high quality recording equipment. The digitally recorded stimuli are then transferred directly to hard drive (i.e., digital-to-digital) via an AudioMedia III card and Pro Tools LE software (both made by Digidesign). In addition to Pro Tools LE, Sound Edit 16 (made by Macromedia) is also used to edit digital wave forms on a Macintosh G4.

In preparing visual stimuli (used primarily in speech production tasks), line drawings (like this example) are edited using Adobe Photoshop and Graphic Converter software. Additional line drawings can also be created by scanning images into digital files using a UMAX Astra 6400 scanner (with Firewire).

Stimuli--whether they are used in a speech production or a speech perception task--are selected with the assistance of a lexical database containing nearly 20,000 English words in a computer-readable transcription. The database contains several measures of the characteristics of each word such as part of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and objective measures of word frequency (based on Kucera & Francis, 1967). Those interested in obtaining a copy of the database should contact David B. Pisoni, Ph.D. at Indiana University (see below). The database can also be accessed online by linking to the web page maintained by Mitch Sommers, PhD. (see below) or to Holly Storkel, Ph.D (see below). The same database was used to estimate the  probabilistic phonotactics of segments and sequences of segments in English. A web-based interface is now available to calculate phonotactic probability for words and nonwords in English (see below).

Various programs are used to statistically analyze the data, graphically represent the data, and prepare the data for presentation or publication. Files of all types are regularly backed up on tape and CD and are transferred between computers via LAN. The SLL is also connected to the internet via Academic Computing Services at the University of Kansas.

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Links of Interest:

Collaborators (To see my Erdos number click here. For another interesting link to Erdos click here.)
Sam Arbesman, Ph.D., Senior Scholar, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Ed Auer, Jr., Ph.D., George Washington University
Kit Ying Chan, PhD., James Madison University
Jan Charles-Luce, Language Production Laboratory, University at Buffalo
Omri Gillath, Gillath Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas
Steve Goldinger, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Karen Iler Kirk, Ph.D., Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University
Allard Jongman, Phonetics and Psycholinguistics Laboratory, University of Kansas
Paul A. Luce, Ph.D., Language Perception Laboratory, University at Buffalo
David B. Pisoni, Ph.D., Speech Research Laboratory, Indiana University
Steven Roodenrys, Ph.D., Perception & Cognition Laboratories, University of Wollongong
Joan Sereno, Ph.D., Phonetics and Psycholinguistics Laboratory, University of Kansas
Mitchell Sommers, Ph.D., Speech and Hearing Laboratory, Washington University
Holly L. Storkel, Word and Sound Learning Laboratory, University of Kansas
Steven H. Strogatz, Ph.D., Theoretical & Applied Mechanics, Cornell University

Research "Neighbors"

Robert  Fiorentino, Neuro-Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas
Alison  Gabriele, Second Language Acquisition, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas
Susan Kemper, Language Across the Lifespan, Psychology & Gerontology, University of Kansas
Mabel Rice, Child Language Program, University of Kansas
Jie Zhang, Phonology, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas

Research Tools

Neighborhood Search Web Site [Maintained by Mitch Sommers at Wash. U.]
Phonotactic Probability Calculator
The Child Mental Lexicon Calculator (CMLC) [Maintained by Holly Storkel at KU]
The Beginning Spanish Lexicon

Speech Error Diary (SpEDi)--a mobile app to document speech errors and tip-of-the-tongue states from yourself or from others!
Basic overview
  Go to the paper describing how to use SpEDi
Go to SpEDi now!

Interesting Links
Neurotree.org  (trace your academic lineage)
Small-World of Words Word Association Study
Mind Paths Word Association Study
Sigma Xi, the scientific research society
Feigenbaum Constant Day
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McGuire, A.B., Gillath, O. & Vitevitch, M.S. (First on-line: 23-OCT-2015). Effects of mental resource availability on looming task performance. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.

Vitevitch, M.S., Siew, C.S.Q., Castro, N., Goldstein, R., Gharst, J.A., Kumar, J.J., and Boos, E.B. (2015). Speech error and tip of the tongue diary for mobile devices. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:1190. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01190  
[Open Access] In the news

Siew, C.S.Q. & Vitevitch, M.S. (in press). Spoken word recognition and serial recall of words from components in the phonological network. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Chan, K. Y. & Vitevitch, M.S. (2015). The influence of neighborhood density on the recognition of Spanish-accented words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41, 69-85

Vitevitch, M.S. & Castro, N. (2015). Using network science in the language sciences and clinic. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17, 13-25.

Vitevitch, M.S. (2014). Network Science as a method of measuring language complexity. Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics, 50, 197–205.

Vitevitch, M.S., Goldstein, R., Siew, C.S.Q. and Castro, N. (2014). Using complex networks to understand the mental lexicon. Yearbook of the Poznań Linguistic Meeting, 1, 119-138.

Goldstein, R. & Vitevitch, M.S. (2014). The influence of clustering coefficient on word-learning: how groups of similar sounding words facilitate acquisition. Frontiers in Language Sciences, 5, 01307 [Open Access]

Vitevitch, M.S., Chan, K.Y. & Goldstein, R (2014). Using English as a ‘Model Language’ to Understand Language Processing. In N. Miller & A. Lowit (eds.) Motor Speech Disorders A Cross-Language Perspective. Multilingual Matters. pp. 58-73.

Vitevitch, M.S., Storkel, H.L., Francisco, A.C. Evans, K.J. & Goldstein, R. (2014). The influence of known-word frequency on the acquisition of new neighbors in adults: evidence for exemplar representations in word learning. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29, 1311-1316.

Vitevitch, M.S. & Goldstein, R. (2014). Keywords in the mental lexicon. Journal of Memory & Language, 73, 131-147. [PDF version] In the news

Vitevitch, M.S., Chan, K.Y., Goldstein, R. (2014). Insights into failed lexical retrieval from network science. Cognitive Psychology, 68, 1-32. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S, Sereno, J., Jongman, A., and Goldstein, R. (2013). Speaker Sex Influences Processing of Grammatical Gender. PLOS ONE 8(11): e79701. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0079701    In the news    10-minute-video
Vitevitch, M.S. & Storkel, H.L. (2013). Examining the acquisition of phonological word forms with computational experiments. Language & Speech, 56, 491 - 527.  [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Donoso, A (2012). Phonotactic probability of brand names: I’d buy that! Psychological Research, 76, 693-698. [PDF version] In the news

Vitevitch, M.S., Chan, K.Y. & Roodenrys, S. (2012). Complex network structure influences processing in long-term and short-term memory. Journal of Memory & Language, 67, 30-44. [PDF version]

Stamer, M.K. & Vitevitch, M.S. (2012). Phonological similarity influences word learning in adults learning Spanish as a foreign language. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 15, 490-502. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2012). What do foreign neighbors say about the mental lexicon? Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 15, 167-172.  [PDF version] In the news

Vitevitch, M.S., Stamer, M.K. & Kieweg, D. (2012). The Beginning Spanish Lexicon: A Web-based interface to calculate phonological similarity among Spanish words in adults learning Spanish as a foreign language. Second Language Research, 28, 103-112

Vitevitch, M.S. & Donoso, A. (2011). Processing of indexical information requires time: Evidence from change deafness. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 1484-1493. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S., Ercal, G. & Adagarla, B. (2011). Simulating retrieval from a highly clustered network: Implications for spoken word recognition. Frontiers in Language Sciences, 2, 369. [Open Access]

Chan, K.Y. &  Vitevitch, M.S. (2010). Network structure influences speech production. Cognitive Science, 34, 685-697. [PDF version]

Arbesman, S., Strogatz, S.H. & Vitevitch, M.S. (2010). The Structure of Phonological Networks Across Multiple Languages. International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos, 20, 679-685. [PDF version] [Harvard Magazine]

Arbesman, S., Strogatz, S.H. & Vitevitch, M.S. (2010). Comparative Analysis of Networks of Phonologically Similar Words in English and Spanish. Entropy, 12, 327-337.  [Invited article for special issue on Complexity of Human Language and Cognition guest edited by Ramon Ferrer i Cancho.] [Open Access]

Chan, K.Y. &  Vitevitch, M.S. (2009). The Influence of the Phonological Neighborhood Clustering-Coefficient on Spoken Word Recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 35, 1934-1949. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Stamer, M.K. (2009). The influence of neighborhood density (and neighborhood frequency) in Spanish speech production: A follow-up report. University of Kansas, Spoken Language Laboratory Technical Report, 1, 1-6.  [KU ScholarWorks]

Vitevitch, M.S., Stamer, M.K. and Sereno, J.A. (2008) Word length and lexical competition: Longer is the same as shorter. Language & Speech, 51, 361-383. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2008). What can graph theory tell us about word learning and lexical retrieval? Journal of Speech Language Hearing Research, 51, 408-422. [PDF version] [KU Press Release] [In the news elsewhere]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2007). The spread of the phonological neighborhood influences spoken word recognition. Memory & Cognition, 35, 166-175. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Atchley, R.A. (2006). Language processing: development and change. Language and Speech, 49, 1-2. [Introduction to special issue guest edited by MSV & RAA.]

Atchley, R.A. &  Vitevitch, M.S. (2006). Language processing across the life span: New methodologies to study old questions. Brain & Language, 99, 224-225. [Introduction to special issue guest edited by  RAA & MSV.] [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Stamer, M.K. (2006). The curious case of competition in Spanish speech production. Language & Cognitive Processes, 21, 760-770. [PDF version][List of Stimuli used in the experiment]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Luce, P.A. (2005). Increases in phonotactic probability facilitate spoken nonword repetition. Journal of Memory & Language, 52, 193-204. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Rodríguez, E. (2005). Neighborhood density effects in spoken word recognition in Spanish. Journal of Multilingual Communication Disorders, 3, 64-73. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Luce, P.A. (2004). A web-based interface to calculate phonotactic probability for words and nonwords in English. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36, 481-487. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. , Armbruster, J. & Chu, S. (2004). Sublexical and lexical representations in speech production: Effects of phonotactic probability and onset density. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 30, 514-529. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2003). The influence of sublexical and lexical representations on the processing of spoken words in English. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 17, 487-499. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. & Sommers, M.S. (2003).  The facilitative influence of phonological similarity and neighborhood frequency in speech production in younger and older adults. Memory & Cognition, 31, 491-504. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2003). Change deafness: The inability to detect changes in a talker's voice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 29, 333-342. [PDF version] [Psychology in the News]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2002). Naturalistic and experimental analyses of word frequency and neighborhood density effects in slips of the ear. Language and Speech, 45, 407-434. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S., Pisoni, D.B., Kirk, K.I., Hay-McCutcheon, M., & Yount, S.L. (2002). Effects of phonotactic probabilities on the processing of spoken words and nonwords by postlingually deafened adults with cochlear implants. Volta Review, 102, 283-302. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2002). The influence of phonological similarity neighborhoods on speech production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 28, 735-747. [PDF version] [List of stimuli from Exp. 4]

Vitevitch, M.S. (2002). Influence of onset density on spoken-word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28, 270-278. [PDF version]

Luce, P.A., Goldinger, S.D., & Vitevitch, M.S. (2000). It’s good...but is it ART? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 336.  [PDF version]

Luce, P.A., Goldinger, S.D., Auer, E.T. Jr., Vitevitch, M.S. (2000). Phonetic priming, neighborhood activation, and PARSYN. Perception and Psychophysics, 62,615-625. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S., Luce, P.A., Pisoni, D.B., & Auer, E.T. (1999). Phonotactics, neighborhood activation and lexical access for spoken words. Brain and Language, 68, 306-311.  [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. and Luce, P.A. (1999). Probabilistic phonotactics and neighborhood activation in spoken word recognition. Journal of Memory & Language, 40, 374-408. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. and Luce, P.A. (1998). When words compete: Levels of processing in spoken word perception. Psychological Science, 9, 325-329.  [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S., Luce, P.A., Charles-Luce, J., & Kemmerer, D. (1997). Phonotactics and syllable stress: Implications for the processing of spoken nonsense words. Language and Speech, 40, 47-62.  [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M.S. (1997). The neighborhood characteristics of malapropisms. Language and Speech, 40, 211-228. [PDF version]

Vitevitch, M. S., Luce, P. A., & Charles-Luce, J. C. (1996). Phonotactic and metrical influences on adult ratings of spoken nonsense words. Proceedings of the International Conference on Spoken Language Processing.  Philadelphia, PA. [PDF version]

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