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The STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering uses engineering approaches to study sensorimotor disorders of voice and speech. Our goal is to better understand, rehabilitate, and augment disordered communication. This work is highly interdisciplinary, engaging engineers, computer scientists, neuroscientists, speech scientists, speech-language pathologists, and laryngologists. In the field of speech-language pathology, our work intersects with voice disorders, motor speech disorders, and augmentative & alternative communication (AAC). We also work in the fields of speech science, speech motor control, and human-computer interaction.

Our work has been and currently is supported by:

The National Institutes of Health:

The National Science Foundation:

Private Foundations:

Boston University:

Other generous external funding:

Acoustic Correlates of Normal and Disordered Speech Function:

IMG_7113We have a long-term interest in understanding the relationship between acoustic parameters and the physiology of speech and voice. We measure kinematics (measured via electromagnetography, respiratory plethysmography), aerodynamics, sensory acuity, and surface electromyography in a variety of disorders (Parkinson’s disease, velopharyngeal dysfunction, voice disorder) in concert with acoustics and estimates of listener perception to develop objective measures of voice and speech to aid clinical diagnosis and repeated assessment.

Videogaming for Rehabilitation:

NinjaGameStriatal dopamine release during video game play may facilitate brain plasticity following perceptual learning. By combining video game environments with timely and accurate sensory feedback, we may be able to effect faster and more widespread learning during motor rehabilitation. Although videogaming techniques for rehabilitation have been applied to the upper limb with success, there are many disorders of the voice, speech, and swallowing system that may be amenable to this technique. Our work in this area is to develop and test novel videogame-based interventions for these disorders in order to improve the quality of life in individuals with sensorimotor disorders.

Novel Neurotechnology for Speech Assistance and Rehabilitation:

Novel neurotechnologyRehabilitation of communication through novel human-machine-interfaces is the “next frontier” in neural technology. A multidisciplinary understanding of the neural dynamics during speech production and real-time signal processing techniques is essential for the advancement of these technologies. The long-term research agenda of our lab is to bridge speech science with engineering to design new approaches to advance speech human-machine-interfaces to a reliable and intuitive state for populations that are currently severely restricted in their ability to communicate.