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International Chair 2023 - Doris Mücke : "Speech dynamics"

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

From March 22, 2023, we will welcome Professor Doris Mücke from the University of Cologne for a series of four seminars on the theme "Speech dynamics: Mapping phonetic surface to phonological forms in neurotypical and atypical speech".

The seminars will take place:

- Wednesday, March 22 and April 5 - U.Sorbonne Nouvelle, Maison de la Recherche, 04 rue des Irlandais 75005 Paris - Salle du Conseil

- Wednesday, May 10 U. Sorbonne Nouvelle, Maison de la Recherche, 04 rue des Irlandais 75005 Paris - Salle Claude Simon from 12pm to 2pm

- Wednesday 07 June - U.Sorbonne Nouvelle, Maison de la Recherche, 04 rue des Irlandais 75005 Paris - Salle du Conseil

All seminars will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

Abstract :

Speech dynamics: Mapping phonetic surface to phonological forms in neurotypical and atypical speech (Doris Mücke)

In the last decades, a growing body of research has pointed out the dynamic nature of the mind. To overcome limitations imposed by symbolic approaches, researchers from many disciplines have turned to the framework of dynamical systems describing a multitude of different cognitive processes including the production and perception of speech sounds and their cognitive representations as well as movement coordination (Kelso 1995; Pierrehumbert et al. 2000; Spivey 2007; Chitoran & Cohn 2009; Roessig & Mücke 2019). One potential strength of dynamical systems is that they can handle a high amount of variability. They do not separate between discrete symbolic representations and the continuous representations of the physical world. Moreover, they integrate invariant relations between variant parameters to generate the richness of the observable physical output (Browman & Goldstein 1986; Gafos & Benus 2006; Mücke et al. 2017). In this seminar, I will provide the basics of dynamical systems and their application to capture the speech system's local and global modulations, such as prominence marking in different speaking styles. This includes the description of intonational and textual variation exhibiting systematic categorical and gradient changes in a multidimensional phonetic space. In the second step, I will discuss the application of dynamical systems to impaired speech and aging. Speakers aim to compensate for problems of the speech motor system in the temporal and spatial dimensions. I will analyse the breakdown in control in motor speech disorders and suggest expanding traditional dynamical models developed with respect to neurotypical speech.

Seminar 1. Basics and challenges of speech dynamics (22/03) The dynamical systems theory has been applied to the coordination of e.g., limb movements (finger, arm, legs) and has been extended to linguistic theory (Haken et al. 1985). An important component of dynamical systems is the concept of point attractors, which are stable states in the continuous phase space the system travels towards. I will showcase how these attractors help to understand the variability in speech output and its relation to linguistic functions, e.g., when investigating sound change, phonological alternations or prosodic prominence on the segmental and intonational tiers (Browman & Goldstein 1986; Gafos & Benus 2006; Roessig & Mücke 2019) Seminar 2. Dealing with the complexity of prosodic systems (05/04) Prosody, the rhythmic and tonal organization of speech, plays an integral role in communication. I will discuss, how categorical and gradient changes can be understood as the scaling of one control parameter modulating different prosodic dimensions at the same time and how modulations can change in relative importance when investigating different speaking styles, such as loud and habitual speech (Roessig & Mücke 2019; Pagel et al. 2021). From a methodological perspective, I will also demonstrate the relative importance of acoustic and articulatory variables conducted on a dataset on focus marking in German and relate the results to the question of errors in the interpretation of phonetic data (Mücke et al. 2020). Seminar 3. Applying speech dynamics to impaired speech and aging (10/05) Especially for impaired speech, the concept of articulatory undershoot and overshoot is important allowing for different degrees of temporal and spatial modulations. However, it can be difficult to determine whether the speech output is the direct result of a perturbated speech system or learnt compensatory strategies in speakers with chronic motor speech impairments due to neurological conditions (Mücke et al. 2014; Thies et al 2021). The discrepancies between the empirical-based movement contours and modelled predictions exemplify the vast challenges when trying to map phonetic contours to phonological forms. I will compare the effects of healthy aging and Parkinson’s disease on speech motor performance. In addition, I will conclude that the speech system seems to be affected by age and disease but speakers develop compensatory strategies. Seminar 4. Modelling unpredictable patterns in speech production (07/06) The flexibility of dynamical systems has recently been described as being insufficient to account for perturbated or highly noisy speech (Parrell & Lammert 2019), such as the speech output of patients with movement disorders (Parkinson’s disease). The shape of the kinematic contours can deviate considerably from those predicted by the models and an application of these models to impaired speakers can be even more difficult. In a critical discussion, I propose the introduction of stochastic noise as a random variable in dynamic simulations. I will conclude that noise plays also a role in modelling neurotypical speech – ranging from syllable repetition tasks to natural sentence production.


Browman, C. P. & L. Goldstein (1986). Articulatory phonology: an overview. Phonol. Yearbook 3, 219–252.

Chitoran, I. & A. Cohn (2009). Complexity in phonetics and phonology: gradience, categoriality, and naturalness. Approaches to phonological complexity, 2

Gafos, A. I., and Benus, S. (2006). Dynamics of phonological cognition. Cogn. Sci. 30, 905–943.

Haken, H., Kelso, J. A. S. & H. Bunz. (1985). A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements. Biol. Cybern. 51, 347–356.

Kelso, J. A. S. (1995). Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Mücke, D., J. Becker, M.T. Barbe, T.B. Roettger, I. Meister, L. Liebhart, L. Timmermann & M. Grice (2014). The effect of Deep Brain Stimulation on the speech motor system in Essential Tremor Patients. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 57(4), 1206-18.

Mücke, D., Hermes A. & T. Cho (2017). Mechanisms of regulation in speech: Linguistic structure and physical control system. Journal of Phonetics, 64, 1-7.

Mücke, D., Hermes, A. & S. Tilsen (2020). Incongruencies between phonological theory and phonetic measurement. Phonology 37(1), 133-170.

Pagel, L., Roessig, S. & D. Mücke (2022). Supra-laryngeal articulation under vocal effort variation. Stem-, Spraak- en Taalpathologie, 8th International Conference on Speech Motor Control. Groningen. 241.

Parrell, B., & A. C. Lammert (2019). Bridging Dynamical Systems and Optimal Trajectory Approaches to Speech Motor Control with Dynamic Movement. Frontiers in Psychology, 10:2251.

Pierrehumbert, J., Beckman, M. E. & D. R. Ladd (2000). Conceptual foundations of phonology as a laboratory science. Phonological knowledge: Conceptual and empirical issues, 273-304.

Spivey, M. (2007). The Continuity of Mind. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Roessig, S. & D. Mücke (2019). Modeling Dimensions of Prosodic Prominence. Frontiers in

Communication 4:44.

Roessig, S., B. Winter & D. Mücke (2022). Tracing the phonetic space of prosodic marking. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence 5.

Thies, T., Mücke, D., Richard D. & M.T. Barbe (2021). Levodopa-Based Changes on Vocalic Speech Movements during Prosodic Prominence Marking. Brain Sciences 2021, 11, 594.


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