We have been a little less present on social media over the past few weeks, but the lab is still very active!

This is because we are working on our new website, which will be ready during the summer, and we are preparing new posts for our blog 2.0, which will accompany our new site. Alexandre is preparing a series of articles on brain anatomy and functions, and Marjorie is concocting a comic strip on language production, which we can’t wait to show you!

In addition to this work on our blog, many research projects are underway, and occupy us full time! Here is an overview:

Research projects on TMS-induced brain plasticity

One project in this research axis is led by Valérie, a PhD student in the lab. This project aims to understand the effects of aging on the brain and on the ability to understand speech in noise such as in restaurants, using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Valérie is looking for a few last volunteers to complete her study (if you are interested in participating, do not hesitate to contact us!).

Valérie conducts a phone interview with someone interested in her study, in order to verify the eligibility criteria.

The other ongoing project in this axis is our first study combining TMS and electroencephalography (EEG)! This project, led by Pascale, the lab director, was developed in the winter and in the spring and has now officially started. The first study will help us better understand the nature and duration of the effects of TMS on brain electrical activity, when brain regions involved in speech processing are stimulated. Data collection is carried out by Pascale, Juan (research intern) and Marilyne (research associate). Juan also began to perform the first exploratory analyses of the EEG data.

Photo of Marilyne taken during one of the last tests before the official launch of our first study combining TMS and EEG.

Research project on language production in aging

A second project, led by Marjorie, a master’s student, has been collecting data since the beginning of the summer. The objective of this project is to understand the factors that affect language production in aging. For this project, Marjorie developed a set of tasks to explore many facets of language production. Two master’s students in speech-language pathology, Maude and Anne-Claire, are assisting Marjorie in recruiting volunteers and carrying out data collection and will also analyze some of the data for their master’s thesis report.

Anne-Claire collects data for a research project on the aging of language production.

Research projects music-induced brain plasticity

Data analysis from our project on the effects of musical and non-musical activities on language and cognition is ongoing. More specifically, Pascale, Marilyne and Alexandre (who will begin his master’s in the lab in September) are working on writing an article on the effects musical activities on cognitive functions such as auditory attention, short-term memory and inhibition. Lydia, a research assistant in the lab, continues this summer to analyze speech samples taked during a diadochokinesis test during which words and non-words were repeated as quickly as possible. These detailed and time-consuming analyses (Lydia has been working on them for over a year!) will be completed in August. Analyses will reveal whether singing is associated with articulatory benefits!

Lydia is analyzing speech recordings of a participant who performed a diadochokinesis test.

Another article on the effects of singing on language abilities is also in preparation. The analyses are being carried out by Edith and Alice (Joël Macoir’s research assistant), who collaborates on the project.

Xiyue, as part of her PhD, is analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected in people who practice or do not practice choral singing. These analyses will allow us to better understand the effects of singing on the aging brain. Xiyue and Pascale have begun writing the article that will present the results of these analyses. The article will be submitted before the Christmas holidays.

Xiyue analyzing fMRI data.

Through all this, Marilyne, Elisabeth and Pascale are also working towards finalizing the meta-analysis project on the impact of musical practice on speech perception in noise. To be submitted soon !

Research project on voice perception

Do you remember Melody, a former student who did her PhD in the lab a few years ago? Well this new project is made in collaboration with her! This project aims to better understand the factors that influence the perception of voice in relation to gender identity, a topic that is at the hearth of Melody’s research program. To do this, in the first phase of the project, we will record the voices of 30 cisgender people (i.e. people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) and non-binary people (people who locate their gender somewhere in the continuum between the two poles “man” and “woman” or outside this binary gender system). Two students, Anne-Julie and Camille, participate to the project as part of their master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Anne-Julie has been trained over the past few weeks to recruit participants and collect data, which she will begin shortly. Camille, who will be working remotely for the summer, will begin processing data as it is collected. Melody and Pascale are overseeing the project.

In addition to all these projects, Pascale, with the help of Marilyne, is working diligently on two major funding applications that will be submitted by the end of the summer. In short, even during the summer, the lab members continue to work like happy little bees!