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Alexander L. Francis

Research Interests / Training Areas:

  • Speech perception
  • Acoustic phonetics
  • Aging
  • Cross-language and second language speech perception
  • Lexical tone
  • Listening effort


I earned my B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991, completing one semester of study in Allgemeine und Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. I did my graduate work at the University of Chicago, earning an M.A. in Linguistics in 1993 and a dual Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Linguistics in 1999. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, and have been at Purdue since 2002.

I study speech perception, acoustic phonetics and cognitive hearing science, with a particular interest in the role of cognitive mechanisms in understanding speech under challenging conditions. My recent work has focused on cross-language, second language and accented speech perception, and speech perception by older listeners with and without hearing impairment. I have also studied the production, perception and learning of Cantonese lexical tones, and factors contributing to the intelligibility of synthetic speech.

Recent Publications:

Llanos, F., Dmitrieva, O., Shultz, A.A., & Francis, A.L.  (2013).  Auditory enhancement and second language experience in Spanish and English weighting of secondary voicing cues. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134(3), 2213-2224. 

Shultz, A.A., Francis, A.L., & Llanos, F. (2012).  Differential cue weighting in perception and production of consonant voicing.  Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132(2), EL95-EL101.

Kondaurova, M.V. & Francis, A.L. (2010). The role of selective attention in the acquisition of English tense and lax vowels by native Spanish listeners: Comparison of three training methods.  Journal of Phonetics, 38(4), 569-587.

Zhang, Y. & Francis, A.L. (2010).  The weighting of vowel quality in native and non-native listeners' perception of English lexical stress.  Journal of Phonetics, 38(2), 260-271.

Francis, A.L. (2010).  Improved segregation of simultaneous talkers differentially affects perceptual and cognitive capacity demands for recognizing speech in competing speech.  Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 72(2), 501-516.

Francis, A.L., & Nusbaum, H.C. (2009).  Effects of intelligibility on working memory demand for speech perception.  Attention, Perception and Psychophysics,71(6), 1360-1374.