Monthly Archives: November 2018

Matthias Heyne – Language and Music

Today I want to highlight the work of my former PhD student and always-colleague, Matthias Heyne.  Matthias is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University (more specifically, the Speech Neuroscience Laboratory, PI Prof. Frank Guenther).

Matthias has done amazing research into the relationship between native language and trombone play style. To quote him, Matthias’ “research explores the relationship of referential and non-referential forms of communication, such as language and (instrumental) music, respectively.”

Matthias and I have published an overview of visualization research in how people play brass instruments.  In addition, Matthias and I helped improve the way we analyze tongue contour shapes, and most recently, Matthias Heyne, Xuan Wang, myself, Kieran Dorreen, and Kevin Watson published an article demonstrating that /r/ production in non-rhotic New Zealand English follows many of the patterns found in the rhotic North American English.

Over the next year you can expect many more publications from Matthias, demonstrating the relationship between both acoustics and articulation of Tongan and English vowels and tongue position in steady-state trombone notes.  Expect research into diffusion MRI to follow as Matthias will be adding brain imagery research to his repertoire.

Matthias is an excellent new researcher, and I expect great things from him throughout a long career.  I am very proud to have had him as a PhD student, and to continue working and publishing with him.

3D-printable ultrasound probe stabilizer for speech research

Christopher Carignan, Wei-rong Chen, Muawiyath ShujauCatherine T. Best, and I recently published an article about our new 3D-printable ultrasound transducer stabilizer (probe holder). 

Ultrasound tongue imaging of speech requires the imaging probe to remain stable throughout data collection. Previous solutions to this stabilization problem have often been too cumbersome and/or expensive for wide-spread use. Our solution improves upon previous designs in both functionality and comfort, while also representing the first free and open-source 3D printable headset for both academic and clinical applications of ultrasound tongue imaging.

The non-metallic design permits the simultaneous collection of ultrasound and electromagnetic articulometry. For clinicians, the headset eliminates the need for holding the imaging probe manually, allowing them to interact with patients in an unencumbered way.

The printable materials we provided work for midsaggital imaging of the tongue using a few select ultrasound transducers like the Logiq E 8C-RS and the Telemed transducers for Articulate Instruments systems, but can be modified easily to allow for other probes, or for coronal tongue imaging.

The system costs from $200 (for a 100 micron print) to $600 USD (for a 20 micron print) in materials to produce, making it quite affordable.  It is also very comfortable compared to most stabilization systems, and is accurate to within about 2mm of motion in any direction, and 2 degrees of rotation in any direction.  More details can be found in the article documenting the system.

Here is an image of the system, fully assembled and worn:

Transducer stabilizer

Transducer stabilizer