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Recent news

People, papers, and new funding!
C McGettigan, 12 July 2023

Some highlights from the first half of 2023!


In March 2023 we were joined by new postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Victor Rosi. Victor joins us from the IRCAM institute in Paris, where he recently defended his PhD on perceptual and acoustic representations of timbre. In the VoCoLab, Victor has been working on aspects of how we perceive identity and other characteristics in synthetic voices, as well as getting to grips with vocal tract MRI.

In June 2023 we said farewell to our long-term colleague Dr Elise Kanber, who has worked in the VoCoLab across the last 7 years, from undergraduate intern all the way to postdoctoral research fellow! We wish her all the very best with her move into data science.



This Spring has seen a flurry of new papers for some recent alumni of the lab:

  • Abbie Bradshaw had her study on sensorimotor adaptation during synchronous and metronome speech accepted at Journal of Experiment Psychology: General. This paper includes MSc Language Sciences student, Ruiling Huang, as a co-author!

  • Stella Guldner has had the main behavioural part of her PhD on volitional vocal trait expression accepted in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

  • Michel Belyk & Ziyun Zhang have had a paper on vocal cues to perceived deception accepted at Journal of Speech, Hearing, and Language Research. This paper includes MSc Audiology student, Bindiya Patel, as the lead author!

  • Michel Belyk has had his open-source analysis toolbox for vocal tract MRI accepted at Behavior Research Methods

A fellowship for Carolyn!

Carolyn recently found out that their application for a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship was successful! The award provides funding to cover Carolyn's regular teaching and administrative duties for 12 months, allowing them to focus on the fellowship project investigating the psychology and ethics of voice banking.

New people, new papers, new positions....
C McGettigan, 28 June 2020

It's been a long time since we gave an update on developments, so here's a quick rundown of the 2019-20 academic year. It's been a big one!


Back in the later part of 2019 we welcomed 2 new postdoctoral research fellows to the VoCoLab: Dr Michel Belyk and Dr Abbie Bradshaw have joined the Leverhulme-funded SONOVOX project to work on topics allied to vocal control and speech production. You can read more about them on our People page!



It's been a busy year for publications, including accepted articles in Nature Communications, Cerebral Coretx, British Journal of Psychology, Quarterly Journal of Psychology, and more.


Drs Belyk and Bradshaw have also made a quick start to their roles, with pre-prints posted recently in PsyArXiv.


Check out the Publications page for details!


This September we'll bid a fond farewell to VoCoLab veteran, Dr Nadine Lavan! Nadine has been awarded a prestigious Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship from the The Wellcome Trust for her project, "Perceiving People from Voices". She'll hold the 4-year award at the Department of Psychology at Queen Mary University of London. We're all very excited, and can't wait for all the great research that Nadine will produce in her new role. Congratulations!

BPS Prize for Nadine Lavan
C McGettigan, 9 May 2019

We were thrilled to hear that Nadine Lavan has been awarded the 2018 Award for Outstanding Doctoral Contributions to Psychology from the British Psychology Society. Nadine was recognised for her work on the perception of voice identity from flexible signals, as reported in her empirical paper in Journal of Experimental Psychology:General and her recent theoretical opinion article in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. The review paper has already attracted attention from the field, having been recognised by the Psychonomics Society's Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award in 2018.

You can read more about Nadine's BPS prize here. Congratulations to Nadine on her outstanding achievements!

C McGettigan, 10 January 2019

We're delighted to announce that applications for 2 Research Fellow positions in the VoCoLab are now open!

Jobs are available for 2 years in the first instance, from Spring 2019 (with some possible flexibility on start date). 


Read more here about joining the VoCoLab.

2017 - Half-time roundup!

C McGettigan, 31 July 2017

There are plenty of updates to share since the last news post on the site!

In November 2016, Carolyn was awarded a Research Leadership Fellowship from The Leverhulme Trust. The £961K award, lasting 5 years, will support Carolyn to assemble a team of researchers investigating questions relating to voice identity perception and production. Hiring will happen from August 2017 - more info here.

We've had more publication success, with new papers from our ESRC project,  a collaboration with Dr Lucia Garrido at Brunel, and also the last functional imaging study Carolyn ran as a post-doc at UCL. Check out the Publications page for the details.

Work is progressing at pace on our ESRC Vocal Learning project - our final fMRI study of the project probes the physiological and neural correlates of voice imitation in untrained participants and expert singers, and we should be finishing data collection in the Autumn. We'll add an update to the project page soon! Meanwhile, Carolyn shared the results of the 2017 Cerebral Cortex paper in a talk at the 7th Speech Motor Control meeting in Groningen, The Netherlands, where it was well received. 

We had a brilliant opportunity to assist Prof Sophie Scott and her team from UCL in delivering the "What's in a Voice?" stall at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2017. Both Carolyn and Nadine, as well as Royal Holloway colleagues Dr Jo Hale, Jess Darby and Amanda Sjoblom, were at the event to talk to guests about the human voice, how it works and what we can do with it. The stall received 6,000 visitors during only 7 days of the exhibition, and was great fun for all of us. Thanks to everyone who spoke to us and got involved in the demos.

There have been TWO changes of title in the VoCoLab family this year: we've recently welcomed Nadine back to the campus for her graduation - congratulations, Dr Lavan! - and in May, Carolyn was made a full Professor of the University of London. We also had a fun reunion of the ESRC Vocal Learning team back in June, as Dan and Carolyn met up for dinner in Oxford, hosted by excellent friend and fellow speech neuroscientist Dr Saloni Krishnan.

Finally, Carolyn recently received the excellent news that she has won an Early Career Award from the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. She will give an award presentation at the Society's annual meeting in Baltimore in November 2017.

2018 - New Beginnings

C McGettigan, 14 November 2018

It's been a big year for the VoCoLab. Most notably, we've changed our name, in reflection of our move to UCL! Carolyn took up a new position as Chair in Speech and Hearing Sciences, starting in September 2018, and was delighted to be able to bring the lab with her to continue work on the Leverhulme-funded SONOVOX (The Social Neuroscience of Voices) research programme.

SONOVOX has been moving at pace, with Dr Nadine Lavan (returning to us from Brunel) and Dr Sarah Knight carrying out new work on voice identity perception and the effects of perceived vocal traits on trusting behaviours. Most recently, new PhD students Elise Kanber and Bryony Payne have set about their projects, on personally-familiar voice perception and voice ownership.


Next up: in 2019 we're looking for up to 2 new postdocs to join the team! Read more here about joining the VoCoLab.

PhD and job success for Dr Nadine Lavan!
C McGettigan, 09 November 2016

Nadine successfully completed her PhD viva on Friday 4th November at UoL's Senate House in Bloomsbury. Many thanks to her examiners Prof Polly Dalton (RHUL) and Dr Disa Sauter (University of Amsterdam). In more good news, Nadine will be joining the lab of Dr Lucia Garrido at Brunel from January 2017 to work on a Leverhulme Trust funded project examining the neural representations of faces and voices.

How time flies... VoCoUpdates for 2016
C McGettigan, 16 September 2016

2016 has been a busy and successful year in the lab, with plenty of news to share!

ESRC Project on Vocal Learning

The year began with a flurry of seminar talks on our ESRC project, with Dan Carey speaking at UCL, Oxford and Imperial, while Carolyn headed to the University of Geneva. We also celebrated the first accepted publication of the grant in Neuropsychology (Carey & McGettigan, 2016). Data collection was completed on the second major fMRI study of the project and we presented findings from this at the Society for the Neurobiology of Language meeting, which took place this August in London. To find out more details about this project, please see our Research page.

Goodbye to Dan and Nadine!

The new academic year begins a little more quietly as we have recently goodbye to postdoc Dan Carey and PhD student Nadine Lavan. After masterfully leading our ESRC project on vocal learning through two huge and groundbreaking studies on the neural and articulatory correlates of novel vowel imitation, Dan is moving on to pastures new in his native Dublin. From October 2016, he will be working as a post-doctoral research fellow on The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin. Best of luck, Dan!

Also leaving the nest will be Nadine Lavan, who submitted her PhD thesis in September 2016, just a few weeks ahead of the 3-year mark! Nadine has had an amazing few years, with a staggering 9 publications now under her belt. From October 2016, she will be making a short stay at the UCL Institutive of Cognitive Neuroscience to work on studies of speech rhythm perception, in collaboration with Japanese communications company NTT. You can read all about Nadine's research on her new website.

Public Engagement Activities

This year Carolyn had the opportunity to present her work in two prestigious award lectures. In April 2016 she gave the Anne Silk Lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine, and in September she travelled to Swansea for the British Science Festival, where she gave the Charles Darwin Award Lecture. In Swansea, Carolyn was joined by professional singer Jennifer Ruth-Adams, who performed live alongside pre-recorded MRI footage of her vocal tract in action! Carolyn and Jenny hope to reprise the presentation at the Norwich Science Festival in October.

There was a strong Royal Holloway contingent in August's Science Showoff at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, which was specially convened for the meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. Carolyn, Nadine and Psychology Head of Department Kathy Rastle all took to the stage with routines on animal vocalizations, swearing and "the reading wars".


You can find out more about our public engagement work here.

Looking ahead...

There is plenty to look forward to in the coming academic year!

  • There are 5 new undergraduate research students joining the lab to work on studies investigating vocal identity perception, using both behavioural and neuroimaging methods.

  • We are hiring! There is an opportunity for a new postdoc to replace Dan Carey on our ESRC project, from January 2017. The final major study of this exciting project will look at vocal imitation in expert groups, including experienced beatboxers. We'll be using real-time MRI of the vocal tract and functional MRI of the brain to directly link articulatory dynamics with the neural systems controlling vocal behaviour. Watch this space for an advertisement!

New grant, new paper, upcoming conferences, and... #TheDress

C McGettigan, 12 March 2015

The new year has got off to a busy start. We welcomed Dr Daniel Carey to the lab, to begin work on our 3-year ESRC project on vocal learning. We'll be updating the Research Pages of the website with news on how things have been shaping up with this exciting new work.


Carolyn recently had an Opinion article accepted to appear in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, in which she makes the case for a new Social Neuroscience of Voices. You can find it here. She's interested to hear what people think!


It's going to be a busy Spring for conferences - Carolyn is heading to Amsterdam this week to take part in a symposium on Non-Verbal Communication at the inaugural International Convention for Psychological Science (ICPS). There are several exciting sessions taking place on the voice and non-verbal communication, so it should be a very fulfilling meeting! At the end of the month, Carolyn will be in Paris to give a talk at the student-run Forum of Cognitive Sciences. Then, hot on the heels of this, Carolyn is heading to the BNA Festival of Neuroscience in Edinburgh, where she is chairing a symposium on The Social Life of Voices.


A more surprising engagement in recent weeks resulted in Carolyn appearing on BBC's Newsnight show, where she discussed visual perception relating to the blue and black (or was it white and gold?) dress that "broke the Internet" as people from all walks of life argued over its perceived colourscheme. It was an interesting (if nerve-wracking!) experience - you can watch a video of the interview on our Media page.


A round-up of 2014 so far...

C McGettigan, 18 Sept 2014

It's been a while since we updated these pages, and there is plenty of news to share from 2014, as we move into the new academic year.


New project grant from ESRC

Dr McGettigan and her collaborator Dr Marc Miquel at Queen Mary, University of London, have been awarded a project grant from ESRC in order to investigate vocal learning processes using MRI of the brain and vocal tract. The 3-year project will commence in January 2015 - watch this space for updates, including a new lab member!


Society for the Neurobiology of Language in Amsterdam

Carolyn and Nadine recently attended the annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, which this year came to Amsterdam from 27-29 August. It was a wonderful meeting and a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from the international speech and vocal communication community. We're already very much looking forward to SNL 2016 in London.



We're delighted to have had several new papers accepted during 2014, including original research articles in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Cognition & Emotion, Language and Cognitive Processes, as well as review and commentary pieces in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Journal of Neuroscience, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and the APA Handbook of Nonverbal Communication. Please see our Publications page for more information. A very special mention for Nadine Lavan here, who has racked up an impressive 3 publications within the first year of her PhD. Well done, Nadine!


Summer Research Projects

We had a busy summer in the lab collecting data for work funded by The Royal Society and by the Royal Holloway Research Strategy Fund. We were lucky to be joined by Simone Whiting, a qualified Speech and Language Therapist, who assisted in behavioural work exploring vocal imitation of vowels and vocal identities. Stacey Parker, a second-year undergraduate student from Royal Holloway's Psychology department, also worked with us on an fMRI study of crossmodal emotion perception and in the preparation of new stimuli for work on multimodal laughter perception. Many thanks to Simone and Stacey for their invaluable support with this research.

News archive

New VoCoLabbers...

C McGettigan, 10 Oct 2013

The lab just got a lot bigger, with the arrival of new PhD student Nadine Lavan and a whole 7 undergraduate project students! Nadine holds a Reid Scholarship at RHUL, and will be using MRI and behavioural methods to investigate the perception of emotional vocalizations. Our two undergraduate project groups will be running studies looking at individual differences in the recognition of faces and voices, and in the perception of laughter and crying.

Grant News!

C McGettigan, 19 Sep 2013

Carolyn has just been awarded a Research Grant from The Royal Society. The funds will allow us to buy an MRI-compatible microphone for use in studies of speech and vocalisation.

New fMRI paper on the neural correlates of laughter perception

C McGettigan, 28 Aug 2013

Our paper on the detection of emotional authenticity in laughter has just appeared online in Cerebral Cortex. It's available as an open access publication, so click below to go to the manuscript. 

New review on the neural correlates of masked speech

C McGettigan, 20 June 2013

Carolyn recently published a review paper with Prof Sophie Scott, our main collaborator at UCL. Click below to see the abstract.

New paper on the neural correlates of vocal impressions

C McGettigan, 20 June 2013

Our new paper in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience describes a functional MRI experiment investigating the neural correlates of controlled identity modulation during speech. The task we used asked participants to perform spoken impressions of accents and familiar individuals, and has received some media coverage (links coming soon to the Media page).

Fun, and lots of new data, at RHUL Super Science Saturday!

C McGettigan, 26 Mar 2013

We had a great day meeting the visitors to the Royal Holloway Super Science Saturday event. We talked about laughing rats and the contagiousness of laughter, and many of our visitors kindly participated in our laughter experiment. We asked people of all ages to listen to some recorded laughs and tell us whether they thought each laugh was real, or posed. Over sixty people took part and we will be reporting the results here soon! Thanks again to everyone who stopped by!

VoCoLab at RHUL Super Science Saturday

C McGettigan, 5 Mar 2013

Royal Holloway is running an amazing series of public events from 16-23rd March 2013, coinciding with this year's National Science and Engineering Week. The Royal Holloway Science Festival will culminate in 'Super Science Saturday', and everyone is invited to come along and find out more about the science we are doing out here in Egham. The theme of the day is 'Science Fact, Science Fiction', and VoCoLab will be there! We'll be testing our visitors' ability to tell fact from fiction by asking them to spot when laughter is real, and when it's posed. Click below to find out more about the festival!

The Litmus Test

C McGettigan, 10 Feb 2013

Carolyn will be taking part in The Litmus Test night next Thursday 28th February at the Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green. The Litmus Test is a science-inspired 'open mic' night with contributions from scientists, comedians and other performers based around a central theme. Next week is 'Mind Games' so Carolyn will be speaking about brains, MRI and what happens when you put the two together with laughter.

VoCoLab is GO!

C McGettigan, 10 Feb 2013

Welcome to our all-new website! This site will contain all the relevant news and information on the lab's research, personnel, publications and public engagement activities. We are currently under development so please do visit again for the latest updates.

I thought about calling us RoHoVoCo in honour of our splendid location at Royal Holloway, University of London. I thought about it. Thanks for visiting!

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