Ruoqian (Lucy) Cheng receives NSF grant

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Congratulations to Ruoqian (Lucy) Cheng! The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Lucy a Doctoral Dissertation Research award for her project Speech perception in younger and older adults: Cue-weighting and contextual information.

The project compares speech perception across younger and older normal-hearing adults. And addresses four research questions that involve the roles of acoustic cue weighting and contextual information (lexical information and speaking rate) in speech perception. Four speech perception experiments will be conducted. Experiment 1 serves as the pretest for Experiments 2 and 3 and tests whether the cue-weighting change found observed previously extends beyond the bilabial place of articulation to the alveolar place of articulation. We compare perceptual flexibility between younger and older listeners in Experiments 2 and 3, with an exposure phase followed by a posttest that is identical to Experiment 1. Specifically, Experiment 2 tests whether younger and older listeners use different cue-weighting adjustment strategies. Two groups of participants receive different exposure conditions, which are either ambiguous in the primary or the secondary acoustic cue. Experiment 3 explores if younger and older adults differ in their use of lexical information when learning to map acoustic tokens that are ambiguous. The exposure phase includes words that differ in lexical status and the acoustic ambiguity either involves only the primary cue or both the primary and secondary cues. In Experiment 4, the contextual effect of speaking rate is examined by embedding voicing contrasts in short and long syllables and presenting these syllables to younger and older listeners. In sum, we aim to understand how specific components of speech perception change across the life span and probe the possible reasons for the change, such as older listeners’ reduced temporal processing abilities.

This research is supervised by Dr. Allard Jongman. For more information, see



One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today