Conrad Perry

Dr Conrad Perry

Senior Lecturer

School of Psychology

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


My research focuses largely on written and spoken language processing. I use ideas from cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and mathematics to examine both theoretical and practical questions, such as what causes dyslexia and the best way children with it can be helped. I also examine other aspects of higher-level cognition that are typically but not always related to language processing including semantics, emotion, theory of mind and altruism.

I have experience running behavioural and neuroscience experiments on both normal and disordered groups. I am also interested in examining data using more modern machine learning techniques.

 

Research Project 1

Title: Examining the effect of visuo-spatial attention when reading

Project description: There are arguments about the extent to which and how visuo-spatial attention is used when reading. A number of people have looked at simple correlations between this type of attention and reading performance, and find some relationship, but they have not directly tested possible mechanisms nor elucidated their properties. One possibility is that focused visuo-spatial attention is used to help parse the letters of words, and this can be investigated by manipulating this type of attention and examining the effect it has on reading particular types of words.

Projects available for: Honours
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start: Semester 1
Special requirements: None

 

Research Project 2

Title: Examining the extent to which graphemes are used in reading

Project description: It is typically assumed that when people translate letters into sound (read aloud) they do so by first grouping the letters of words into meaningful groups – i.e., graphemes (e.g., thick would be broken into three groups th.i.ck) rather than use only single letters. The experimental evidence for this is relatively weak, however. This may be because  the experimental paradigms used to examine this are not especially sensitive to this process, and thus alternative paradigms may offer more insight. Further experimentation and statistical analyses of large-databases would be worth pursuing in this respect.

Projects available for: Honours
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start: Semester 1
Special requirements: None

 

Research Project 3

Title: Investigating the time-course of emotion processing with concrete and abstract words.

Project description: A number of results using electroencephalography show that affective responses elicited from concrete words are weaker and occur later than with abstract words. This is somewhat surprising given concrete words like maggot can clearly have strong negative connotations. One potential reason for this is that, unlike abstract words, affective concrete words tend to be associated with many features that do not have affective content, and the processing of these slows the processing of affective information. Alternatively, it may simply be the case that the affective features of abstract words tend to be a larger and more important part of their representations. Differentiating these possibilities is theoretically important for our understanding of how emotional semantics is processed.

Projects available for: Honours
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start: Semester 1
Special requirements: None

 

Research Project 4

Title: Investigating the direction of word stress assignment in English

Project description: There is a large literature on the way stress is assigned to words in English. However, the extent to which this has been investigated as a psychological rather than linguistic phenomenon is less. Some recent data in German suggests that, unlike as often suggested, stress assignment appears to occur from left-to-right rather right-to-left. Investigating this in English and whether different types of words cause different types of behaviour in this respect would help our understanding of the underlying mechanisms people use. These results have implications for some types of aphasia and children with language learning difficulties who make stress errors when speaking.

Projects available for: Honours
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start: Semester 1
Special requirements: Some background in linguistics would be very helpful

 

Research Project 5 

Title: Developing computational models of reading

Project description: There are currently two main computational models of reading that can predict how adults read aloud known and novel words. Only one of these models predicts outcomes of dyslexia. However, even that model has problems – it could be extended, the internal dynamics investigated better, and less psychologically plausible aspects of it entirely replaced. Further experiments could also be run to test between different aspects of the model and the predictions other models make.

Projects available for: HDR students
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start:
Special requirements: Mu
st have an interest in programming and computation.

 

Research Project 6

Title: The meaning of changed meanings lingers

Project description: A number of databases looking at words associated with racial and gender stereotypes across the last decades have recently become available. This is interesting because it should allow the extent to which these stereotypes remain with people even when they have fallen out of common use to be examined. Such stereotypes could be compared with concepts that have changed meanings but are not strongly associated with stereotypes or affective information. The processing of these could be elucidated using electroencephalography. This would give insight into the way semantics can change over time.

Projects available for: Honors; HDR
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start:
Special requirements: At present, I don’t have access to good samples in Adelaide and obviously this requires older participants.

 

Research Project 7

Title: Examining effects of listening to atypically stereotyped voices

Project description: People change both the sound of their voice and the particular words they use (linguistic style) depending on the context of the situation. For example, it is well documented that that some females use a more masculine voice than normal to convey a sense of authority. I have investigated this using electroencephalography and found that people listening to such speech are affected relatively early and in a sustained way to such speech changes. However, it is not clear whether this effect is specific to females speaking in a masculine style, or whether it is a more general response to speech styles that are more generally incongruent with people’s expectations, even when the underlying reason for the different voice is quite different (e.g., males speaking in a feminine voice, which isn’t used to convey authority). This could be examined by using different types of speech incongruency.

Projects available for: Honours
Location: Helen Mayo Building
Research project start: Semester 1
Special requirements: Nil

 

  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83132861
  • Email: conrad.perry@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Hughes, floor 5
  • Room: 5 16
  • Org Unit: The University of Adelaide

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