Current Lab Members

Principal Investigator

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Frank Guenther, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Departments of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, a Faculty Member in the Harvard/MIT Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program, and a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Guenther is a computational and cognitive neuroscientist specializing in speech and sensorimotor control. His research program combines theoretical modeling with behavioral and neuroimaging experiments to characterize the neural computations underlying these faculties in humans. Dr. Guenther also develops brain-computer interfaces to restore synthetic speech and other communication skills to paralyzed individuals. His research has been covered extensively in the science and popular media, including television spots on CNN News, PBS News Hour, and Fox News; articles in popular science magazines Discover, Scientific American, and Popular Science; and popular press coverage in Esquire, Wired, The Boston Globe, and BBC News.

Faculty

JTourville-150x150Jason Tourville, Ph.D. is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences and Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology at Boston University. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems at Boston University. He is a cognitive and computational neuroscientist primarily focused on mapping the brain regions involved in speech motor control. His research combines mathematical modeling with functional and structural brain imaging to study the neural mechanisms underlying normal and disordered speech, including persistent developmental stuttering, apraxia of speech, spasmodic dysphonia, and autism. Dr. Tourville also has an extensive background in human neuroanatomy and MRI-based brain morphometry that he uses to develop expert-guided semi-automated brain region labeling methods.

 

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Joseph Perkell, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Perkell has been engaged in research on speech motor control since 1965. His former laboratory, in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, developed EMMA, the first electromagnetic articulometer system shown to have accuracy and reliability sufficient for rigorous research on speech kinematics. From the early 1990’s until 2012, Dr. Perkell headed the Speech Motor Control Group in RLE and was PI on two long-running R01 grants from NIDCD. The group published a number of carefully conducted, hypothesis-driven, methodologically sophisticated studies of speech production: on biomechanical constraints and motor control strategies, including the role of hearing. For its last 15 years, the group collaborated closely with Prof. Guenther, whose DIVA model provided the theoretical framework for research in both projects, guiding work on brain mechanisms and the influence of these mechanisms on speech kinematics and acoustics. Dr. Perkell was also a participating faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Graduate Program in Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology Program, for which he served on the program’s admissions committee and supervised graduate students. Dr. Perkell’s most recent review papers showed how his group’s work was consistent with a coherent theoretical framework that modeled relations among brain mechanisms, audition and speech motor control.

Research Staff

imagejpeg952 - CopyBarbara Holland, M.A. is Assistant Director of Research in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire and M.A. in Psychology, emphasis in Neuropsychology, from the University of Northern Colorado. Prior to joining BU, Barbara worked at the Center for Morphometric Analysis on a study of attentional network pathology in persons diagnosed with schizophrenia. Responsibilities included recruitment and neuropsychological testing of participants, conducting fMRI experiments, analysis of functional and structural data MRI, refinement of structural MRI analysis methods developed at the Center for Morphometric Analysis.

AlfonsoAlfonso Nieto-Castanon, Ph.D. is  a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Boston University.  In his private practice he also works as a statistical consultant, analyst, and methods/software developer. In addition to providing modeling and statistical support to research groups in the field of computational neuroscience, some of his ongoing projects involve functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) analysis methods, the application of functional localizers to investigate the selectivity of language-related areas, and method development for speech restoration in subjects with locked-in syndrome.

Postdocs

Matthew Masapollo, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University.  His central research interests concern the nature and development of human speech production and perception, and the nature of the signal properties (acoustic, visual, haptic) that underlie speaker to perceiver speech communication.  He investigates these topics by conducting research that draws on a wide range of methodologies for articulatory and acoustic analysis of speech, speech synthesis, and cross-linguistic perceptual testing of adults and infants with different behavioural paradigms and tasks.  At BU and in collaboration with Drs. Frank Guenther and Jason Tourville, he has recently begun studying the neural substrates underlying sensorimotor integration in speech processing, using functional brain-imaging (fMRI) methods.  The results of such investigations have implications for theories of speech and language processing, as well as for developmental and acquired disabilities involving speech (e.g., stuttering, aphasia).

Matthias Heyne, Social and Political Science.Matthias Heyne, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. His interdisciplinary research explores the relationship of referential and non-referential forms of communication, such as language and (instrumental) music,and more specifically, the cognitive and biomechanical processes underlying human behavior and how they manifest themselves in the movements of the facial-oral-laryngeal-respiratory musculature. In his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, he found that native language speech production seems to influence tongue position during trombone performance, providing evidence that skilled motor behavior can influence less skilled, or subsequently learned, activities. Continuing this line of research at Boston University, Matthias is collaborating with Dr. Peter Iltis (Gordon College) and the research group of Dr. Jens Frahm at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, to collect real-time MRI recordings of the vocal tract  during speech and brass instrument performance.  Within the discipline of speech research, Matthias has investigated the articulation and socio-phonetics of New Zealand English, and is currently developing a new analysis pipeline to process diffusion-weighted MRI images of the brain that can provide information about possible white matter abnormalities underlying impaired speech production in disorders such as stuttering and autism.
Headshot_square_bw_compressedElaine Kearney, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. Elaine received her B.Sc. from University College Cork and her Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto. Her research investigates the sensorimotor control of speech in acquired motor speech disorders – particularly in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and post-stroke – with a view to expand the evidence-based treatment options available to these populations. She conducts both basic science and clinical research that capitalize on her expertise in kinematic, acoustic, and perceptual techniques, as well as Cochrane-based systematic review methodology. At the Speech Neuroscience Laboratory, Elaine will investigate the neural correlates of auditory and somatosensory feedback control in speech production in individuals with PD using functional brain-imaging methods. This line of research has implications for our understanding of both normal and disordered speech motor control, and has the potential to guide future directions of speech rehabilitation research in PD.

megan headshotMegan Thompson, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. Her research interests center around the role of sensory feedback in speech motor control in healthy and clinical populations. She investigates these topics using a variety of speech and nonspeech production paradigms while participants undergo functional neuroimaging. She also is interested in applications of computer programing to facilitate speech modeling and image processing. During her Ph.D. in Bioengineering in UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco’s Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, she investigated the production of speech sounds in the absence of the vocal tract. At Boston University’s Speech Neuroscience Lab she will investigate speech production modeling in stuttering populations.                                                      

Graduate Students

Saul_Headshot-437x636Saul Frankford, is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences at Boston University. He received his B.A. in Music Science from Northwestern University in 2013 with a minor in human communication sciences. His research interests include the neural bases of speech production, and applying current neurocomputational models to understanding speech disorders in neurologically-impaired individuals. In his spare time, Saul enjoys singing, eating new and interesting foods, and traveling.

Kuzdeba-150x150Scott Kuzdeba, is a Ph.D. student in Computation Neuroscience at Boston University. Scott earned a B.S. from Syracuse University majoring in Electrical Engineering and Economics and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His research interests involve methods for analysis of speech network dynamics from electrocorticographic data. 

dante1Dante Smith  is a Ph.D. student in Computational Neuroscience at Boston University, studying voice motor control. He graduated from BU in 2012 with a B.S. Biomedical Engineering. His research interests include Sensorimotor control of voice, voice analytics, and applications of neural feedback for therapy and technologies. He enjoys traveling, baking and playing water polo.

 

Undergraduate Students

Ari

Aryah Basu is an undergraduate student at Boston University, Neuroscience major, Computer Science minor, Pre-med track, class of 2020. Ari reviews raw and preprocessed brain image data for the SpeechLab and is a key contributor to the lab’s effort to develop a robust standardized pipeline for assessing brain image data quality.

KatalinaKatalina Aguilar is a junior at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. She contributes to the preprocessing of acoustic data and plans to apply her experience gained in the lab towards obtaining her career goal of helping design neural prostheses. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, exercising, and exploring Boston. 

Farwa Faheem is a junior at Boston University studying Neuroscience with an interest in neurobiology and computational neuroscience. She is currently working on redesigning code in MATLAB for a speech production experiment in addition to assisting with coding the resulting data. She also analyzes data collected from an ongoing speech perception experiment. However, when she’s not in a study lounge or at lab, you’ll probably find her making her way to the front row of a concert.

Riccardo Falsini is a senior at Boston University who is majoring in Neuroscience, and minoring in Computer Science. Ricky contributes to the lab as a research assistant by helping process and run statistics over brain image data. Additionally, he happily assists others in the lab if they are having difficulty in areas related to or involving coding. He hopes to apply his experience in the lab towards his future goal of working with brain machine interfaces and helping others through neural prostheses.