LAB Lab PI Dr. Emily Myers and co-collaborator Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer, of the Dramatic Arts department at UConn, have been awarded one of two 2018-2019 UConn STEAM Innovation grants, worth $40,000.

The goal of the STEAM Innovation grant is to encourage collaboration between the arts and STEM fields.

Dr. Myers said: “Our voices are fundamental to our identities. We flexibly navigate between different voices, dialects, and speech registers, perhaps adopting “baby talk” with an infant and a “phone voice” in the office. Yet for some, deploying the right voice at the right time carries significantly greater stakes. Surprisingly little is known about the neural, cognitive, and social traits that allow individuals to smoothly switch between multiple voices. In this proposal, we use behavioral tests, acoustic analysis, interviews, and neuroimaging methods (fMRI) to understand voice switching. In this collaboration between the Language and Brain Lab and Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer in the Drama Department, we ask why some are natural mimics and/or particularly adept at working across dialects. Further, by comparing our findings across a diverse set of people with extraordinary experience switching voices, (actors, trans people, social code-switchers), we will search for commonalities in the substrates of voice switching.”