Current Research


Our current research revolves around understanding cognitive and affective responses to communication challenges, with a focus on psychophysiological measurements.

Francis, A.L. & Love, J. (2019). Listening effort: Are we measuring cognition or affect, or both? WIREs Cognitive Science, e1514.

We conduct this research in the context of three separate but interrelated areas of study:

Psychophysiological Responses to Background Noise

Research in this areas focuses on identifying physiological responses related to specific types or properties of background noise, and/or the cognitive mechanisms that are engaged in order to cope with such noise.

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. published online Jan. 12, 2021.  DOI: 10.3758/s13414-020-02195-9

Some of our recent work in this area is in collaboration with Prof. Patricia Davies and her students at Herrick Labs.

[Love, Song, Francis 2021 here: JASA-06713R1, “Psychophysiological responses to potentially annoying HVAC noise during mentally demanding work”]

Auditory Attention and Effort

Research in this area focuses on understanding the underlying attentional mechanisms that listeners engage in order to cope with adverse conditions, especially the presence of annoying or distracting sound.

Much of this work is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Strauss of the Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology unit of the University of Applied Science and the University of the Saarland, and focuses on identifying and relating central and autonomic nervous system activity associated with the direction of selective attention.

Schneider, E.N., Bernarding, C., Francis, A.L., Honrsby, B.W.Y., & Strauss, D.J. (2019). A quantitative model of listening related fatigue. 9th International IEEE EMBS Neural Engineering Conference. March 20-23, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Attention, Balance, and Fall Risk

Research in this areas is aimed at identifying interactions between cognitive load, spatial attention, and balance in the context of hearing loss- and age-related increases in risk of falling. Much of this work is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Shirley Rietdyk and Dr. Jeff Haddad in Health and Kinesiology and Dr. Dongjuan Xu in Nursing.

Xu, D., Newell, M., & Francis, A.L. (2021).  Fall-related injuries mediate the relationship between self-reported hearing loss and mortality in middle-aged and older adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Medical Sciences, 76(9), e213–e220.
DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glab123