Keynote Speakers



Prof. Takayuki Ito
Parole et Cognition, GIPSA-lab
Somatosensory role in speech production and perception links
The link between speech production and perception and their underlying representations lie at the core of the field of speech science. While most work in these research areas has focused on motor, auditory, and, to some extent, visual processes, the somatosensory system has been largely overlooked despite its importance in speech processing. The present talk introduces a possible role of the somatosensory system in the processing of speech production and perception.
Biography: Takayuki Ito, Ph. D. is research scientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). He currently works in GIPSA-lab and University of Grenoble Alps, France. He is also senior research scientist in Haskins Laboratories, USA since 2005. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Chiba University and post-doctoral training at NTT Communication Science Laboratories in Japan before joining Haskins Labs. His interests are orofacial sensorimotor mechanisms in speech production and perception.

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Prof. Michael Smotherman
Dept. of Biology, Texas A&M University
What a bat's song tells us about how the mammalian brain evolved for speech
Echolocating bats are unique in their absolute reliance on voice to survive. Their highly cognitive biosonar behaviors and the recent revelations that many bat species sing like birds offer a challenging exception to what we think we know about how the mammalian brain is wired to communicate. Their brains are adapted to rapidly and precisely manipulate the sound of their voice to meet the ever-changing environmental and contextual demands of sonar navigation. Complex vocal behaviors such as sonar, singing and human speech require highly developed forebrain networks that seamlessly translate motivation and cognition into the pliable coordination of respiratory, laryngeal and supralaryngeal vocal motor commands. To achieve this, bats and primates may have converged upon similar neuroarchitectural design solutions, but for completely different ecological reasons. In this talk I will review what’s unique about bat vocalizations, what's currently known about their neural substrate, and discuss how this informs hypotheses about how vocal motor pathways may have evolved.
Biography: Dr. Michael Smotherman received his Ph.D. in Physiology from UCLA in 1998. He is a biology professor at Texas A&M University and serves as chair of the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience, where he teaches courses in neurobiology and behavior. Dr. Smotherman's research takes advantage of the highly dynamic vocal behaviors of bats to explore the ecology, evolution and neurobiology of vocal communication. The lab studies both social calling and biosonar pulse emissions. His studies of audiovocal integration and bat singing are aimed at understanding how brain networks can be expanded or adapted for communication. Studies of bat biosonar behaviors are used to guide improvements in artificial sonar, active sensing and communications systems. His research is supported by the United States NIH, NSF, DoE and DoD agencies.

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Prof. Marilyn Vihman
Language and Linguistic Science, University of York
Word learning and the role of production
Learning words means gaining the ability not only to understand but also to produce identifiable word forms and use them to make reference. Focusing on the first two years of life, this talk will give particular consideration to the role of vocal practice not only for production but also for word-recognition and segmentation. Self-action has been found to be a powerful tool for perceptual processing of word forms, understanding referential intention and retaining episodic memories. Changes related to the maturation of brain structures documented for declarative memory in other domains also provide suggestive parallels to the process of decontextualization of word meaning and reference, while word learning and use can in themselves be seen to lead to qualitative changes in the learning process.
Biography: Marilyn Vihman is Professor of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. She is best known for her book, Phonological Development: The first two years (2nd ed., 2014). She co-edited with T. Keren-Portnoy The Emergence of Phonology: Whole-word approaches and cross-linguistic evidence (2013), a collection of classic and new empirical studies of early words in eight languages. She is currently completing a new book, Phonological Templates in Development (Oxford Press). Marilyn also studies bilingual language development.

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Prof. Pascale Tremblay
Département de Réadaptation, Université Laval
Aging of speech motor control: from behaviour to brain mechanisms
Despite the importance of speaking on communication and social interactions throughout the entire lifespan, little is known about the neuromotor and neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie age-related changes in speech production. In this talk I will present recent work from my laboratory that explored the impact of complexity on speech production in aging, from motor planning to articulation. I will also describe the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie these changes, focusing on neuroplasticity. Finally, the potentially moderating impact of singing on speech motor control in aging will be discussed.
Biography: Pascale Tremblay is associate professor in Rehabilitation Sciences at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada, researcher at the CERVO Brain Research Center and holder of a career award from the "Fonds de recherche santé du Québec” (FRQS). Dr. Tremblay is co-director of the Quebec City brain imaging Consortium (CINQ), and co-founder of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL). Her laboratory, the Speech and hearing Neurosciences Laboratory (www.speechneurolab.ca), focuses on understanding the behavioural and neural substrates of speech/voice perception and production in adulthood and throughout aging using cognitive neurosciences methods. Current work is focused on identifying the factors that affect speech functions in aging, including neurocognitive and sensorimotor aging and on strategies that can alleviate age-related changes to human communication such as group singing. The long-term goal of her research program is to contribute to the development of lifespan neurobiological models of human communicative functions. To achieve these goals, her research combines high-end brain imaging methods, such as structural, functional and diffusion-weighted imaging, brain stimulation methods and carefully designed experimental manipulations.

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Conference