Color-blind conversations: Listeners can look beyond race when processing speech

A study by researchers in the Linguistics Program and the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences finds that the race of a speaker doesn’t affect comprehension — challenging a prominent study on the topic. When we have a face-to-face conversation with someone, we’re taking in more than just the sound of their voice. “It’s generally […]

Board grants faculty appointments, promotions

At the Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees meeting March 3, numerous faculty members were appointed with tenure, promoted with tenure or granted tenure. Their new roles will take effect July 1 unless otherwise indicated. Appointment with tenure Sheldon A. Evans as professor of law at the School of Law; and Benjamin Levin as professor […]

NSF awards grant to Van Engen

Kristin Van Engen, PhD, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and of linguistics, both in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a $433,242 National Science Foundation grant to support research into why some speakers are more difficult to understand than others and how listeners adjust to unfamiliar accents. Unlike […]

Which mask is easier on the ears?

To assess how different styles of face masks affected speech intelligibility in normal hearing listeners, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis put some of the most popular mask designs to the test. Their research was published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. The team, from the labs of Kristin Van Engen, PhD, assistant professor […]

Understanding accented speech: AKA, understanding speech

Kristin Van Engen studies the dynamic back-and-forth between communicators, including the impact that noise and accent have on intelligibility and comprehension. Communication among people with different accents is particularly challenging because of the way that our brains expect to hear sounds. People don’t always hear the comfortable sounds they have learned to expect, leading some […]