Kyle Jas­min
October 2018

What do you work on?

I work on speech, lan­guage, con­cepts, audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing and autism.

Who or what orig­i­nal­ly inspired you to work in your field of research?

In under­grad, I stud­ied piano per­for­mance and lin­guis­tics, which is how my inter­est in sound and lan­guage devel­oped. After read­ing George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s book “Metaphors We Live By”, I became inter­est­ed in rela­tion­ships between lan­guage and cog­ni­tion. Later, I got into neu­ro­science (and the neur­al basis for lan­guage, speech, and sound pro­cess­ing in typ­i­cal and spe­cial pop­u­la­tions) after tak­ing an RA job at the Max Planck Insti­tute for Psycholinguistics.

Why did you choose Gorilla?

I moved to Gorilla for behav­ioral test­ing because of how sim­ple it is to pilot tasks and stim­uli online. It also makes col­lab­o­ra­tion very easy – peo­ple in dis­tant loca­tions can all work on the same exper­i­ment. Also, the sup­port I’ve received from Gorilla staff has been excellent.

“The abil­i­ty to test remote­ly is crit­i­cal. Some of our par­tic­i­pants in spe­cial pop­u­la­tions live very far away”

What did you do using Gorilla and what did you find?

I’ve got sev­er­al Gorilla exper­i­ments in the pipeline but I will tell you the one that is fur­thest along. When you’re speak­ing, some­times you want to empha­size a par­tic­u­lar word, e.g.“LOOK at me!” vs. “Look at ME!”.

Lis­ten­ers can tell which word you’ve empha­sized by lis­ten­ing for changes in audi­to­ry dimen­sions such as dura­tion (an empha­sized word is usu­al­ly longer) and pitch (an empha­sized word is usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a large change in pitch, from low to high or high to low).

With my co-authors, Fred Dick, Lori Holt, and Adam Tier­ney, I ran an audi­to­ry cat­e­go­riza­tion exper­i­ment that mea­sured the extent to which peo­ple rely on these two dimen­sion – pitch and dura­tion – when per­ceiv­ing speech. Peo­ple are known to dif­fer in their abil­i­ty to hear pitch changes, so we hypoth­e­sized that peo­ple who couldn’t hear pitch changes all that well would “down-weight” (rely less upon) pitch cues and “up-weight” (rely more upon) dura­tion cues – com­pared to peo­ple who could hear both pitch and dura­tion normally.

We ran the study in two groups of par­tic­i­pants, one of which we knew had dif­fi­cul­ty per­ceiv­ing pitch (but not dura­tion), and anoth­er with nor­mal per­cep­tion of both dimen­sions. We found what we had pre­dict­ed, that peo­ple with unre­li­able pitch per­cep­tion place less weight on pitch when per­ceiv­ing speech, and more weight on a dimen­sion they per­ceive reli­ably – in this case, duration.

So, our results indi­cate that even if some­one has dif­fi­cul­ty per­ceiv­ing a par­tic­u­lar audi­to­ry dimen­sion in speech, they can “recal­i­brate” their speech per­cep­tion sys­tem to compensate.

The pre-print for this study can be accessed here.

For you, what is the stand-out fea­ture in Gorilla?

The abil­i­ty to test remote­ly is crit­i­cal. Some of our par­tic­i­pants in spe­cial pop­u­la­tions live very far away and it is dif­fi­cult for them to trav­el in to the lab. Online test­ing allows them to con­tribute to the research from their home or office.

How do you think online research is going to change your field?

I’m hop­ing online research will make it eas­i­er to test spe­cial pop­u­la­tions, and gen­er­al­ly increase the sam­ple size of audi­to­ry experiments.

“make sure your task is engaging”

What advice would you give to some­one start­ing out in behav­iour­al science/research?

Before you run any exper­i­ment “for real”, make sure your task is engag­ing and its instruc­tions are easy to under­stand. Pilot­ing your task with col­leagues as well peo­ple out­side behav­iour­al sci­ences (e.g. your friends, part­ner, fam­i­ly mem­bers) is one way to do this.

What is the biggest advan­tage of online research methods?

Being able to col­lect data from many par­tic­i­pants in a short amount of time.

When you’re not work­ing what do you enjoy doing?

Trav­el­ing, play­ing the piano, clas­si­cal con­certs and operas, try­ing new restau­rants, karaoke.

Kyle Jas­min
Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher
Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow
Birkbeck University of London
Kyle Jasmin

Ready to get started?

More Spotlight Interviews

Jonathan Tsay

Jonathan Tsay

[get-spotlight-info] "I work on how the brain controls movement. I use Gorilla to design a battery of cognitive tasks to investigate how the cerebellum contribute to cognition. These tasks span a wide range, from language to visual cognition, from math to attention.” Continue Reading Jonathan Tsay

Xiao Hu

Xiao Hu

[get-spotlight-info] "I am interested in whether our decision to offload information is related to our evaluations of ability on the task – a form of metacognition.” Continue Reading Xiao Hu