pub1Current research:

July 2017- June 2020: I am a co-PI and a Research Fellow on a new ESRC funded project titled ‘Speech masking effects in speech communication across the lifespan’.  The project aims to lead to a better understanding of how speech communication is affected by different types of noises in the environment -and how this changes as a function of age. In this project we are exploring different ways to investigate speech in interaction in realistic everyday communicative settings -both inside and outside the laboratory!

Recent research projects I’ve been involved in:

1.Speech communication in older adults. (PI Valerie Hazan) (2014-2017)

This research project investigates the impact of ageing on speech communication in good and adverse listening conditions. Speech communication in older talkers is affected by multiple factors: age-related hearing loss, declines in motor control, how the brain processes incoming information and how we remember facts. The aim of this project is to achieve a better understanding of the effects of ageing on speech communication and of the various contributing factors to potentially degraded speech communication in a population of ‘healthy aged’ individuals. In this project we are looking at speech production (acoustic-phonetic features), voice characteristics, head movement and eye contact (face tracking), cognitive function and sensory acuity (hearing thresholds) when communication becomes effortful (e.g., in background noise). For more information, please visit the project website. Publications to be added soon...

For a really nice (and fun!) technique to elicit spontaneous speech, please visit the DiapixUK website!

Some recent talks relating to this project:

i) Tuomainen, O & Hazan, V. (2018). Effects of mild age-related hearing loss and background noise on speech communication. Invited talk at the Speech in Noise (SPiN-2018) workshop. Glasgow, UK.

ii) Tuomainen, O. & Hazan, V. (2017). Effects of aging on speech production and speaker intelligibility. Talk the MRC OverHear Network, a conference on real world communication ecology, UCL, Ear Institute.

iii) Hazan, V & Tuomainen, O. (2017). How do Aging and Presbycusis Affect The Ability to Communicate Effectively in Challenging Conditions’. Invited talk by Hazan, Aging & Speech Communication Research Conference 2017, November 5-8, 2017, USF Tampa, USA.

2.Speaker-controlled Variability in Children’s Speech in Interaction. (PI Valerie Hazan)

This project investigated how children and young people plan and understand speech and how these develop through late childhood. For more information, please visit the project website.

Some recent publications relating to this project:

i) Hazan, V. L., Tuomainen, O., & Pettinato, M. (2016). Suprasegmental Characteristics of Spontaneous Speech produced in Good and Challenging Communicative Conditions by Talkers aged 9 to 14 years old. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59, S1596-S1607.

ii) Pettinato, M., Tuomainen, O., Granlund, S., & Hazan, V. (2016). Vowel space area in later childhood and adolescence: Effects of age, sex and ease of communication. Journal of Phonetics, 54, 1-14.

iii) Tuomainen, O., Lee, C., Granlund, S., & Hazan, V. L. (2015). Phonetic reduction in spontaneous speech by children aged 9-14 years. Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences.

3.Auditory processing and language in children with mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. (PI Lorna Halliday)

This project investigated  why some children with permanent mild or moderate hearing loss (MMHL) have impaired language, while others do not. One factor that might account for poor language skills in this group is the way in which they process sounds. For more information, please visit the project website.

Some recent publications relating to this project:

i) Halliday, LF., Tuomainen, O. & Rosen, S. (2017). Auditory Processing Deficits Have Multiple Routes to Language : Evidence from Children with Mild to Moderate Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Cognition, 166, 139-151.

ii) Halliday, LF., Tuomainen, O. & Rosen, S. (2017). Language Development and Impairment in Children with Mild to Moderate Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, , 60, 1551-1567.


4.Auditory and speech processing in Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Dyslexia.

It has been suggested that  both  SLI  and  dyslexia  stem  from  similar  underlying  sensory  deficit  that  impacts speech  perception  and  phonological  development  leading  to  oral  language  and  literacy deficits.  Previous  studies,  however,  have  shown  that  these  underlying  sensory  deficits exist in only a subgroup of language impaired individuals, and the exact nature of these deficits is still largely unknown.  My PhD work  investigated  three  aspects  of  auditory-phonetic  interface:  1)  The weighting of acoustic cues to phonetic voicing contrast 2) the preattentive and attentive discrimination  of  speech  and  non-linguistic  stimuli and  3)  the  formation  of  auditory memory  traces  for  speech  and  non-linguistic  stimuli in  young  adults  with  SLI  and dyslexia.  This work focused  on  looking  at  both  individual  and  group-level  data  of auditory   and   speech   processing   and   their   relationship   with   higher-level   language measures. The results revealed a complex pattern between behavioural and neural responses. Individuals with SLI/Dyslexia were not poor at discrimination sounds (nonspeech or speech). However, young adults with SLI (but not with dyslexia) had differential brain responses to both nonspeech and speech sounds than their typically developing age-matched controls. Furthermore,  some individuals (but not all) with SLI had weaker phonological representations than controls.

Publications relating to this project:

i) Tuomainen, O., Stuart, N. J., & Van Der Lely, H. K. J. (2015). Phonetic categorisation and cue weighting in adolescents with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 29 (7), 557-572

ii) Tuomainen, O. T. (2015). Auditory short-term memory trace formation for nonspeech and speech in SLI and dyslexia as indexed by the N100 and mismatch negativity electrophysiological responses. NeuroReport, 26 (6), 374-379.