Current Research


Our current research revolves around understanding and improving measurement of cognitive and affective response to communication challenges.

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

Psychophysiological Responses to Background Noise

This project 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.

Example Publication:Love, J. Sollman, L., Niehl, A., & Francis, A.L. (2019). Physiological orienting response, noise sensitivity, and annoyance from irrelevant background sound. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics. Accepted Feb. 9, 2019.

Recent work in this area is in collaboration with Prof. Patricia Davies at Herrick Labs.

Attentional Effort

This project, 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, focuses on identifying and relating central and autonomic nervous system activity associated with the direction of selective attention.

Example Publication: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.

Second Language Experience and Listening Effort

Projects in this area focus on measuring the effort of listening and speaking in a second language. Some of this work is done in collaboration with Dr. Adriana Zekveld of the VUmc in Amsterdam. We are looking at how second language experience affects the effort of listening to speech in the presence of competing speech in different languages.

Example publication: Francis, A.L., Tigchelaar, L., Zhang, R., & Zekveld, A.A. (2019). Effects of second language proficiency and linguistic uncertainty on recognition of speech in native and nonnative competing speech. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research (epub before print).

Wearable Systems for Acquiring Affective Physiological Data

This project with Prof. Mireille Boutin focuses on developing low-cost, wearable instruments and robust signal processing techniques relevant to acquiring affective data in real-world contexts such as classrooms and restaurants.

We recently presented a poster entitled “Identifying affective responses in individual blood volume pulse data” at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR), October 3-7 2018, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.