Tongue twisting speech lecture open to public

By Press Office

What does our tongue actually do inside our mouths when we speak? How do we create clear speech sounds? These are some of the questions which will be discussed by a university speech and language specialist at a public lecture in March. 

For years, the details of what happens inside our mouths when we speak has been a bit of a mystery. Now, with the help of pioneering speech technology developed at Queen Margaret University, specialists can shed new light on how we use and control our tongue to help us create speech.

The lecture titled ‘Tongue Twisting’ is part of Queen Margaret University’s Professorial Lecture Series and will be of interest to speech scientists, speech and language therapists, as well as the general public. The event will show how pioneering technology is being used to help children and adults with communication problems improve their speech.

Queen Margaret University is known for its world leading research in speech and languages science and for its success in using research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders.

Professor Alan Wrench, who will give the lecture, has been collaborating with the University’s speech and language therapists and researchers for many years. His work has involved the development of ground-breaking technologies which can be used in therapy with patients to improve or correct speech articulation problems. The instruments and technologies which Professor Wrench has developed has helped improve the lives of children with Downs syndrome, teenagers with cochlear implants, adults with enduring speech conditions and people with cleft palate.

Professor Wrench will discuss some of the university’s pioneering work which combines imaging techniques and 3D modelling – methods which allow researchers to see the complex shapes of the tongue as it moves during speech. Over the last few years, the University speech researchers have been imaging techniques of movement inside the mouth to better understand speech motor control, which is helping to pave the way for more effective speech therapy.

Professor Alan Wrench said: “How we acquire the skills of speech, and understand the complexities of how we form words and sentences, is not well understood. Better knowledge of these areas will improve our ability to diagnose and treat people who have speech problems. My colleagues and I have therefore been using imaging techniques to record, and see in real time, the shapes that the tongue makes inside the mouth when creating specific sounds. Our most recent work has involved efforts to enhance these images by modelling the way the tongue works, and I look forward to describing the model, sharing video clips, MRI and ultrasound images and photos with the audience during the lecture.”

The professorial lecture ‘Tongue Twisting’ will take place on Monday 30 March, 5.30pm for 6pm start in the Halle Lecture Theatre, Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh.

Notes to Editor

Articulate Instruments Ltd

Professor Alan Wrench is director/owner of Articulate Instruments Ltd, a spin out speech technology company based at Queen Margaret University.

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