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Speech Science

Speech science is a large and complex field spanning many disciplines. Speech science includes many areas such as language disorders, diagnosis of speech, speech language therapy, speech perception, acoustic analysis and speech recognition.

The Speech Science Group


Many departments and schools at The University of Auckland, including the School of Psychology, the Department of Audiology and Engineering, are engaged in Speech Science research. Staff in the speech science group are involved in a range of research activities, but are particularly interested in auditory processing disorder, speech and language development in monolingual and bilingual children and acquired communication disorders in adults. Students research projects also span the same areas, as well as dysphagia, fluency disorders, brain injury, language processing in normal aging and speech and language therapy for children with hearing loss.

Do you know anyone aged 7-16 years who might be willing to be a research participant in a speech perception study? We are looking for young people who do not have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and also for participants who do have ASD for this study.

Participate in our research

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The Speech Science laboratory


The Speech Science Laboratory is adjacent to the Speech Language Therapy Clinics and Audiology research and clinical facilities in the Population Health complex. The Speech Science Laboratory houses a 64-channel Neuroscan auditory evoked potential system, a comfortable reclining chair, a DVD player and a good selection of toys, books and DVDS for the children and adults participating in our research.

The Speech Science Laboratory also has equipment for electropalatography (EPG) for treatment of speech disorders, altered auditory feedback for treatment of stuttering and surface electromyography (SEMG) biofeedback treatment for dysphagia (swallowing disorder). The clinic houses a Kay Elemetrics CSL 4300 and also has a portable Sona-Speech device for voice analysis and treatment.

For more information visit the University Clinics website

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Postgraduate programmes in Speech Science


The discipline of Speech Science offers two Masters degree programmes:

  • Master of Speech Language Therapy Practice MSLTPrac – an intensive programme of full time study over two years for students wishing to become clinical speech language therapists.
  • Master of Science in Speech Science (MSc in Speech Science) – a one year full time or two year part-time programme of study for students and practising clinicians wishing to do research in Speech Science (possible research thesis topics span a wide range of areas in adult and paediatric speech language therapy).

Additionally we offer:

  • Postgraduate Diploma of Science in Speech Science (PGDipSci in Speech Science) – a one year full time or up to four years part-time programme of study for students and practising clinicians wishing to do advanced study in Speech Science. Possible courses include the speech science courses excluding the clinical practicum courses, as well as courses in Psychology, Physiology, Audiology, Linguistics, Computer Science or Engineering. There is considerable flexibility in this course so that people completing the PGDipSci in Speech Science can have a programme of study that suits their specific interests.
  • Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) - This is available for Speech Language Therapists wishing to further their professional development or update their study in a particular area of Speech Language Therapy. You can take one or more individual papers from the speech science courses on offer.
  • SPCHSCI 701: Dysphagia (e-learning course): Speech Science at The University of Auckland offers an e-learning course on dysphagia that meets NZSTA requirements for dysphagia training. This one-semester course is designed as a professional entry-level qualification covering all aspects of swallowing and feeding rather than a professional development course for dysphagia-trained therapists.

Find more information about the Master of Speech Language Therapy Practice (MSLTPrac)

Find more information about the Master of Science (by thesis only) in Speech Science and the Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Speech Science

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Aphasia research


An important research area in Speech Science is the study of aphasia. Dr Clare McCann is currently investigating language processing in people with aphasia after a stroke. She is particularly interested in nouns and verbs and how differently these are processed in aphasia.

If you have aphasia and you would like to know more about this work, or you would like participate in one of our aphasia studies, please contact:

Dr Clare McCann
Email: c.mccann@auckland.ac.nz

A study is currently underway in Speech Science, funded by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation that is investigating brain responses to words in people who have aphasia after a left hemisphere stroke. More information about this study is available by downloading the document below.

If you would like to volunteer for research at the Centre for Brain Research, you can do so by visiting the Research Volunteer Register.

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Swallowing research and teaching


A new and innovative area of research for the Speech Science team is swallowing.

Anna Miles is a researcher in adult swallowing disorders with a special interest in acute care, clinical swallowing evaluation and instrumental assessment of swallowing.She runs a swallowing rehabilitation clinic for adults with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) at Tamaki Campus and provides specialist teaching in digital analysis of videofluoroscopic study of swallowing, cough reflex testing, fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing and tracheostomy management.

Anna recently led the production of the New Zealand Speech-language Therapy Clinical Practice Guideline for Videofluoroscopic Study of Swallowing which has been endorsed by the New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

Download the guide from the New Zealand Speech-language Therapists' Association website (PDF)

See Anna's profile page


Bianca Gordon has interest in paediatric and neonatal swallowing disorders. Currently masters research is being completed in objective digital analysis of videofluoroscopic study of swallowing, functional outcomes and staff perceptions of SLT-led FEES services, quality of life in people with chronic dysphagia and mothers' feeding cues in pre-term and term babies.

See Bianca's profile page

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Speech production research


PhD student Areej Asad (aasa009@aucklanduni.ac.nz) is studying the speech of children with hearing Loss in association with Professor Suzanne Purdy, Dr Elaine Ballard and Liz Fairgray in Speech Science and collaborators in Australia, Professor Katherine Demuth and Drs Caroline Bowen and Mridula Sharma. Liz Fairgray who is one of the co-investigators for this research, also runs the University of Auckland Listening and Language Clinic, specialising in speech and language treatment for children with hearing loss and other complex conditions such as autism spectrum disorder.

Different standardised speech assessments are being used in this research to measure production of consonants and vowel sounds in order to better characterise the speech difficulties of children with hearing loss in mainstream primary schools. Control children with no hearing problems are also participating in the research. Different speech therapy treatments for phonological errors are also being investigated. The goal is to identify optimal approaches for treating speech difficulties in children with hearing loss in order to improve speech intelligibility and participation in the classroom.

If you would like to know more about this work, or have a 5 or 6 year old child who may wish to participate in this research, please contact:

Professor Suzanne Purdy
Email:
sc.purdy@auckland.ac.nz

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Speech Science scholarships


The Jane and Rebecca Hulst Memorial Scholarship fosters and encourages masters study in Speech and Language Therapy Practice, with an emphasis on children with disabilities.

Find more information about the scholarship

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