Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD position

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Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD position

Italian Institute of Technology
Country of Position: 
Contact Name: 
Alessandro D'Ausilio
Subject Area: 
Speech and Language Processing
Machine Learning for Signal Processing
Start Date: 
March 20, 2020
Expiration Date: 
March 31, 2020
Position Description: 

Applicants are invited for two Early Stage Researchers (ESR) of EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) to be hosted in the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). The positions are for a fixed-term of 3 years and the successful applicants are expected to register for PhD at the University of Ferrara, in Translational Neurosciences and Neurotechnologies. The two Early Stage Researchers (ESR) of COBRA H2020 project (G.A. N. 859588), an EU Innovative Training Network of MSCA involving 9 partners, which will train a group of 15 researchers that will be the next generation of researchers to accurately characterize and model the linguistic, cognitive and brain mechanisms deployed by human speakers in conversational interactions with human interlocutors as well as artificial dialog systems.


ERS2: When people are engaged in meaningful social interaction, they automatically and implicitly adjust their speech, vocal patterns and gestures to accommodate to others. Although these processes have extensively been explored at the behavioral level, very little is known about their neural underpinnings. Prior investigations have shown that suppression of alpha oscillations, overlaying sensorimotor regions, are a possible marker of action-perception coupling during non-speech (Tognoli & Kelso, 2015) and speech based (Mukherjee et al., 2019) interactive tasks. The project, by running dual-EEG recordings, will investigate if behavioral speech alignment translates into identifiable brain oscillatory markers. Key objectives are (i) to develop and validate metrics to quantify phonetic accommodation during natural speech interactions and (ii) to identify electrophysiological markers of between-speaker convergence.

ERS10: For adults, mastering the segmental and supra-segmental aspects of a second language (L2) is particularly challenging. Although we know that such a capability is partially maintained during adulthood, we do not know yet how to facilitate effective and long-lasting L2 learning. This project is based on the hypothesis that when people engage in meaningful social interactions, they automatically and implicitly align at multiple levels (Pickering, Garrod, 2013), including the phonetic (Mukherjee et al., 2019) and the facial expression ones. ESR10 will tackle the fundamental scientific question of speech alignment in L2 and whether it drives long-lasting improvements in L2 skills. Key objectives are (i) to investigate the dynamics of alignment in L2 (English) and (ii) to quantify improvements when participants are engaged in a conversation with native speakers.


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