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Professor Carolyn McGettigan
Lab Director

I was born and schooled in Derry, N Ireland. I completed a BA in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, followed by a PhD in Human Communication Science at UCL. My research is concerned with understanding the behavioural and neural processes involved in vocal communication. I set up the VoCoLab at Royal Holloway in 2012, and in September 2018 we relocated to UCL Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences. You can read about my research here, and find a list of publications here.

Aside from research, my greatest passions are cycling, baked goods and the Eurovision Song Contest.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Abbie Bradshaw
My research in the VoCoLab forms part of the SONOVOX project investigating the social neuroscience of voices. I study sensorimotor integration processes during speech production, and how these may differ during interactions with other speakers compared to when speaking alone. I am particularly interested in synchronised speech behaviours, and how these may affect speech motor control in both typically fluent individuals and people who stutter. This research involves using behavioural methods to study phenomena such as phonetic convergence and speech motor adaptation.
Dr Michel Belyk
My research focuses on the neural control of the voice, with an aim to understand how humans evolved to speak. My research with the VoCoLab forms part of the SONOVOX project investigating the social neuroscience of voices. I will be using real time MRI to study how the differences between individuals' vocal tracts can tell us who is speaking. I will also be using functional MRI to study interactions between networks in the brain that are responsible for speech motor control and networks that are responsible for social cognition in speech interactions.
Outside the lab, I enjoy playing the most complicated boardgames I can find.

Dr Clare Lally

I investigate how we understand written and spoken forms of communication. My research in the VoCoLab forms part of the SONOVOX project investigating the social neuroscience of voices. I will focus on the perception of voice qualities and how this affects other processes, such as speech recognition or information retention. I will also apply multivariate analysis techniques, such as representational similarity analysis, to functional MRI data to investigate the neural bases of vocal identities.
Aside from my academic research, I work on projects that incorporate science policy and data science. I enjoy good coffee and really terrible sequels of films.

PhD Students

Stella Guldner
I’m interested in how we use our voice to convey socio-emotional information. Does volitional control over our voice interact with our ability to mentalize about another’s intentions, feelings and motives to influence how well we can use our voice as a social instrument? To get a better understanding of this question, I’m using both behavioural as well as neuroimaging methods (fMRI) to study volitional voice modulation to express social emotions and traits in normal subjects with high traits of psychopathy or autism.


Outside of the lab, and if I’m not travelling, I’m a passionate improv actress and enjoy singing musicals at the top of my lungs.

Elise Kanber
My interests lie mainly in vocal identity and voice processing. In particular, I’m interested in the perceptual processing of highly familiar voices e.g. close friends/romantic partners. Does it “feel good” to hear this category of voices? Are these voices rewarding to the listener, and how can we quantify this? During my PhD, I will use both behavioural and neuroimaging (fMRI/EEG) methods to investigate the significance of these personally valued voices, as well as the potential social and behavioural implications of hearing them.
Bryony Payne
I am interested in vocal communication, self-processing and, together, the extent to which our voices are used as a dynamic expression of the self. My PhD looks specifically at our ownership of an auditory identity and seeks to train an association with a new vocal identity. Using behavioural, fMRI and EEG techniques, I will be exploring how a new voice is integrated into the concept of the self. This work hopes to inform future work with users of voice synthesisers.

Lab Alumni

Dr Nadine Lavan (former postdoc on the Leverhulme Trust SONOVOX project)
Dr Sarah Knight (former postdoc on the Leverhulme Trust SONOVOX project)
Dr Dan Carey (former postdoc on the ESRC Vocal Learning project) 
Dr Sheena Waters (former postdoc, ESRC Vocal Learning)
Dr Kyle Jasmin (former PhD student, UCL/NIH)
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