Our Research

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Vocal communication is a crucial source of social connection throughout the lifetime. However, individuals in several psychiatric and neurological populations often struggle to engage with the voices in their environment, which can negatively impact development and quality of life.

The goals of the Speech and Social Neuroscience Lab are to understand why some individuals struggle to engage with the vocal world around them and how this impacts their social skill and brain function, and to identify remediation strategies that may improve the quality of their social interactions. We also examine the link between voice processing and social function in neurotypical individuals.

Our research is grounded in several crucial aspects of voice processing: “What” is someone saying?; “Who” is speaking?; “How” does their voice sound when they are feeling a certain emotion? We then use functional brain imaging to examine whether the brains of these individuals process these vocal cues differently compared to neurotypical peers. Finally, we relate these neural measures of voice processing to broader social skills. 

Our current research is focused on understanding the brain basis of speech comprehension and social function in two clinical populations: children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 

Honors & Awards

Sex differences in voice processing systems in autism, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD) (2019–2021)
Connectivity of voice processing brain networks in female children with autism, Stanford Women and Sex Differences in Medicine (2017–2018)
CHRI Pilot Early Career Award, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health (2017)
K01 Research Scientist Development Award, NIMH, NIH/NIMH (2014-2017)
Postdoctoral National Research Service Award, NIH/NIDCD (2010-2012)
Independence Blue Cross Grant in Auditory Science Award, National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation (2006)
Research Training in Neuroscience, NIH/NIDCD (2002-2003)
Graduate Fellowship, Northwestern University (2000-2001)