Alexander L. Francis, PhD

Research Interests / Training Areas:

  • Speech perception
  • Cognitive aging
  • Listening effort
  • Psychophysiology


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 am a faculty member in the Linguistics Program and a faculty fellow in the Center on Aging and the Life Course (CALC), and I hold a courtesy appointment in Psychological Sciences.

I study speech perception, acoustic phonetics and cognitive hearing science, with a particular interest in noise sensitivity, distraction and annoyance, and in the contribution of cognitive mechanisms to understanding speech under challenging conditions. I use behavioral and psychophysiological measures to assess speech understanding, cognitive effort, affect and stress in younger and older adults with and without hearing impairment under a range of listening conditions. Results of this research provide insight into the cognitive foundations of spoken language understanding, and will contribute to research on better accommodating the needs of older listeners and those with hearing impairment in a variety of listening contexts. I have also studied cross-language, second language and accented speech perception; the production, perception and learning of Cantonese lexical tones; and factors contributing to the intelligibility of synthetic speech.

Recent Publications:

  • Francis, A. L., Bent, T., Schumaker, J., Love, J., & Silbert, N. (2021).  Listener characteristics differentially affect self-reported and physiological measures of effort associated with two challenging listening conditions. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics.
  • Francis, A.L. & Love, J. (2020).  Listening Effort: Are we measuring cognition, affect, or both? WIREs Cognitive Science. e1514.
  • Xu, D., & Francis, A.L. (2019) Psychological distress mediates the relationship between hearing impairment and cardiovascular disease. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research; 62(8), 2872-2881.

  • Francis, A.L., & Oliver, J. (2018). Psychophysiological measurement of affective responses during speech perception. Hearing Research, 369, 103-119.

  • Strauss, D.J. & Francis, A.L. (2017). Toward a taxonomic model of attention in listening effort. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 17(4), 809-825.

  • Francis, A.L., MacPherson, M.K., Chandrasekaran, B., & Alvar, A.M. (2016). Autonomic nervous system responses during perception of masked speech may reflect constructs other than subjective listening effort. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Hearing Mechanisms of Language Understanding: Short- and Long-term Perspectives, 7(263), 1-15.
Alexander Francis
Faculty Associate:  
Center on Aging and the Life Course

Lyles-Porter Hall, Room 3062
Phone: 765-494-3815

Speech Perception and Cognitive Effort (SPACE) Lab

Lab website

Francis CV

Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, Lyles-Porter Hall, 715 Clinic Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2122, PH: (765) 494-3789

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