The voice represents the most complex auditory signal produced by human beings. Besides being the commonest medium for conveying linguistic information in everyday communication, voice transports a wealth of individual, emotional, social and physiological information about a speaker. Much of this is learned behaviour, e.g. revealing regional and social provenance, gender or sexual orientation. Individual anatomy and physiology of the vocal apparatus, on the other hand, impact on aspects of the voice that are less under the speaker’s control, such as age, sex or speaker identity.
The Voice Research Unit (VRU) brings together basic and applied researchers from a broad range of areas (psychology, speech, medicine, neuroscience, computer science) dealing with social cognitions based on the voice, and their interaction with the human face. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we want to better understand the different strands of social and physiological information that are brought together into the single multiplex signal of the voice, how speakers change their voices to accommodate to other speakers and how constantly changing individual, contextual and social factors affect the listener’s perception and representation of speakers and their speech. Investigation of healthy speakers and listeners complements and interacts with the study of both voice and hearing problems in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum, degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, or vocal communication in cochlear implant users.