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

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