Maria Uther

Maria Uther
University of Wolverhampton · Department of Psychology

BSc. (Hons), MSc. (Occ. Psych), PhD
Research leader in auditory/speech perception and digital tech at work. Passionate about open research and EDI.

About

61
Publications
11,146
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
1,553
Citations
Citations since 2016
19 Research Items
654 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
Introduction
I have specialist knowledge within the area of speech and hearing sciences. In addition, I have practitioner skills in occupational psychology (with specialisms in in training/development and human factors). I commenced my career in Australia, completing my first degree from University of Sydney, Australia, followed by a PhD at University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia in the field of auditory cognitive neuroscience.
Additional affiliations
September 2018 - present
University of Wolverhampton
Position
  • Professor
January 2013 - September 2016
The University of Winchester
Position
  • Head of Department
January 2008 - present
Brunel University
Education
March 1994 - September 1998
UNSW Sydney
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (61)
Article
Difficulty managing the demands of work and nonwork roles (often referred to in terms of managing balance) can be detrimental to psychological wellbeing and contribute to occupational burnout. The current study investigated the neural correlates of perceived satisfaction with this balance using both trait and state EEG alpha measures. EEG was recor...
Article
Full-text available
Digital games may benefit children’s learning, yet the factors that induce gaming benefits to cognition are not well known. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of digital game-based learning in children by comparing the learning of foreign speech sounds and words in a digital game or a non-game digital application. To evaluate gaming-i...
Article
Full-text available
Qualitative studies have identified a diverse array of motivations for purchasing items within video games through chance-based mechanisms (i.e., “loot boxes”). Given that some individuals—particularly those at risk of disordered gaming and/or gambling—are prone to over-involvement with loot box purchasing, it is important to have a reliable, valid...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehension assesses a listener’s ability to construe the meaning of an acoustic signal in order to be able to answer questions about its contents, while intelligibility indicates the extent to which a listener can precisely retrieve the acoustic signal. Previous comprehension studies asking listeners for sentence-level information or narrative-l...
Article
Loot boxes (LBs) are video game-related purchases with a chance-based outcome. Due to similarities with gambling, they have come under increasing scrutiny from media, academics and policymakers alike. Initial evidence suggested that LB engagement might be associated with both problem gambling (PG) and problem video gaming (PVG). We therefore conduc...
Article
Introduction Loot boxes are purchasable randomised reward mechanisms in video games. Due to structural and psychological similarities with gambling, there are fears that loot box purchasing may be associated with problematic gambling. Whilst monthly expenditure is typically modest (i.e. < $20), the distribution is highly skewed, with a small number...
Chapter
Agile working in contemporary society necessarily involves using technology to work flexibly across different locations, time zones, etc. To be able to respond to an agile working environment, employees often keep digital notifications switched on, yet we know little about the potential impact this has on employee well-being and ability to function...
Preprint
IntroductionLoot boxes are purchasable randomised reward mechanisms in video games. Due to structural and psychological similarities with gambling, there are fears that loot box purchasing may be associated with problematic gambling. Whilst monthly expenditure is typically modest (i.e. < $20), the distribution is highly skewed, with a small number...
Preprint
Learning is increasingly assisted by technology. Digital games may be useful for learning, especially in children. However, more research is needed to understand the factors that induce gaming benefits to cognition. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of digital game-based learning approach in children by comparing the learning of fore...
Chapter
The use of touch screen storybooks for children allows reading to be transformed into an interactive multimedia experience, in which text is augmented by animations, sound effects, and games. The present study is a follow-up to an earlier study [1] which found that touch screen storybooks negatively affected child readers’ comprehension but resulte...
Article
Full-text available
Mobile learning has become one of the more influential aspects in the field of educational technology given the ubiquity of modern mobile devices and proliferation of educational applications or ‘apps’ for mobile devices. Within this special issue, there are a range of studies and reviews which cover a breadth of current topics in the field, namely...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated whether subjective quality judgements on sound and picture quality across three devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini) affected user preferences for learning applications. We tested 20 native Finnish-speaking users trialing generic audio clips, video clips, and two kinds of learning apps that were heavily reliant on sound. It...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated user experiences from 117 Finnish children aged between 8 and 12 years in a trial of an English language learning programme that used automatic speech recognition (ASR). We used measures that encompassed both affective reactions and questions tapping into the children' sense of pedagogical utility. We also tested their perception of...
Article
This study sought to investigate the effect that contextual cues (in particular, device type and content type) have on the perception of sound quality. A sample of 49 participants were tested on different mobile devices sizes (small–iPhone, medium–iPad Mini, and large–iPad) which had identical sound output characteristics within in different usage...
Article
Full-text available
We tested brain and behavioral responses to two common messaging alerts (Outlook and Android whistle) using an oddball paradigm, where participants had to detect the two alerts among a background of white noise and occasional matched, distractor stimuli. Twenty-nine participants were tested using a behavioral target detection task and a subset of 1...
Article
This study investigates the influence of sensory and cognitive affordances on the user experience of mobile devices for multimedia language learning applications. A primarily audio-based language learning application – ‘Vowel Trainer’, was chosen against a comparison, text and picture-based language learning application – ‘Learn English for Taxi Dr...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Forty talkers participated in problem-solving tasks with another talker in conditions differing in communication difficulty for the interlocutor. A linguistic barrier condition (L2 interlocutor) was compared to acoustic barrier conditions (native interlocutors hearing vocoded or noisy speech). Talkers made acoustic-phonetic enhancements in all barr...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study investigates the influence of sensory and cognitive affordances on the usability of mobile devices for multimedia language learning applications. An audio-based learning application – the ‘Vowel Trainer’ (audio-based speech app), developed by University College London was chosen, against a comparison, text and picture-based language lear...
Article
Phonetic and orthographic cues are weighted in speech sound perception by second language speakers.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Second language (L2) learning can involve processing of speech-sound contrasts that have multiple phonetic cues (e.g. Iverson et al., 2003). This can be particularly difficult for foreign-language learners especially if the cues are weighted differently in the foreign and native languages (e.g., Giannakopoulou et al., 2011, 2013). The orthographic...
Article
Speech-sound contrasts that have multiple phonetic cues can be particularly difficult for foreign-language learners especially if the cues are weighted differently in the foreign and native languages (e.g., Giannakopoulou et al., 2013). The orthographic representation of words is suggested to also interfere with speech sound perception in way of pr...
Article
Speech aimed at infants and foreigners has been reported to include the physical exaggeration of vowels, that is vowel hyperarticulation. Although infants have been demonstrated to experience hyperarticulated vowels in speech directed at them, little research has been done on whether vowel hyperarticulation occurs as a result of foreign appearance,...
Article
The finding that hyperarticulation of vowel sounds occurs in certain speech registers (e.g., infant- and foreigner-directed speech) suggests that hyperarticulation may have a didactic function in facilitating acquisition of new phonetic categories in language learners. This event-related potential study tested whether hyperarticulation of vowels el...
Article
This paper sets out to provide a preliminary guidance on developing mobile language learning applications, with consideration for using multimedia. A set of initial findings are presented from a small-scale pilot learner study, along with other considerations from findings in the literature. These preliminary guidelines could be further developed i...
Article
Speech sounds that contain multiple phonetic cues are often difficult for foreign-language learners, especially if certain cues are weighted differently in the foreign and native languages. Greek adult and child speakers of English were studied to determine the effect of native language on second-language (L2) cue weighting and, in particular, to e...
Article
The Internet has rarely been used in auditory perception studies due to concerns about standardisation and calibration across different systems and settings. However, not all auditory research is based on the investigation of fine-grained differences in auditory thresholds. Where meaningful ‘real-world’ listening, for instance the perception of spe...
Article
Hyperarticulation of vowel sounds occurs in certain speech registers (e.g., infant‐ and foreigner‐directed speeches). Hyperarticulation is therefore presumed to have a didactic function in facilitating phonetic categorization in language learners. This event‐related potential study tests whether hyperarticulation of vowels actually results in large...
Article
Full-text available
Foreign-language learning is a prime example of a task that entails perceptual learning. The correct comprehension of foreign-language speech requires the correct recognition of speech sounds. The most difficult speech-sound contrasts for foreign-language learners often are the ones that have multiple phonetic cues, especially if the cues are weigh...
Article
The most difficult speech-sound contrasts for foreign-language learners are often the ones that have multiple phonetic cues, especially if the cues are weighted differently in the foreign and native languages. Greek speakers of English were studied to determine on what basis they are making discrimination and identification between English vowels....
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the use of mobile devices for language learning. In particular we consider how different multimedia and interface modalities can be used to facilitate mobile language learning. The use of multimedia is considered within the context of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) theories. In p...
Article
Low-pass filtering has been used in emotional research to remove the semantic content from speech on the assumption that the relevant acoustic cues for vocal affect remain intact. This method has also been adapted by recent investigations into the function of infant-directed speech (IDS). Similar to other emotion-related studies that have utilised...
Article
This study used the High-Variability Phonetic Training (HVPT) technique to train Finnish speakers to distinguish English vowels. It was found that Finnish speakers tend to use durational cues (which are phonemically relevant in their own language) to make a vowel category distinction rather than the relevant spectral cues. We used duration-modified...
Article
This study explored the issue of how web users understand how the back button works on a standard web browser. Sixty participants were divided into two groups: those who were taught the correct mental model (stack-based) vs. those who did not receive any mental model information. The participants were then given a scenario-based task in which they...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A computer-assisted language learning software for mobile devices (MAC) is presented, that was aimed to helping speakers acquire speech contrasts not native to their own language. The software is based on the high variability phonetic training (HVPT) technique. An overview of the software is given, followed by results from an efficacy study. Two gr...
Article
Infant-directed speech has three main roles – it attracts attention, conveys emotional affect, and conveys language-specific phonological information, and each of these roles are reflected in certain components of the speech signal – pitch, rated affect, and vowel hyperarticulation. We sought to investigate the independence of these components by c...
Conference Paper
This paper focuses on the issue of how mobile devices can enhance the language learning experience, and how to evaluate such systems. To this end we consider some of the different multimedia and interface modalities in use in the mobile language learning field, focusing in particular on experiences from two case studies: the audio-based training of...
Article
To increase our understanding of auditory neurocognition in musicians, we compared nonmusicians with amateur band musicians in their neural and behavioral sound encoding accuracy. Mismatch negativity and P3a components of the auditory event-related potentials were recorded to changes in basic acoustic features (frequency, duration, location, intens...
Article
This study examined the possibility that learning Morse code could result in cortical changes in processing of physical acoustic features, as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a components of the auditory event-related potential (ERP). ERPs were recorded in 9 subjects who were learning Morse code. The subjects were presented with audit...
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present a case-study on developing an adaptive computer assisted language learning software built for mobile devices. Our application, called mobile adaptive CALL (MAC) is aimed at helping Japanese-English speakers in perceptually distinguishing the non-native /r/ vs. /l/ English phonemic contrast with a view to improving their di...
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present a mobile adaptive computer-assisted language learning (MAC) software aimed to help Japanese-English speakers in perceptually distinguishing the non-native /r/ vs. /l/ English phonemic contrast with a view to improving their own English pronunciation. MAC is implemented in Java (J2ME), allowing the software to be used on a...
Article
Infant?directed speech (IDS) is characterized by hyperarticulation, increased pitch, and high emotional affect, which is in turn thought to reflect a linguistic and emotional role for IDS. If the linguistic role is an independent contributor of the changes in IDS, then similar hyperarticulation should also occur in foreigner?directed speech (FDS) b...
Article
This study examined auditory temporal resolution as indexed by gap detection using the mismatch negativity (MMN) component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP) and its magnetic counterpart (MMNm). ERPs were recorded in 10 subjects who were presented with auditory stimuli. These stimuli were presented in sequences of repetitive continuous '...
Article
With Morse code, an acoustic message is transmitted using combinations of tone patterns rather than the spectrally and temporally complex speech sounds that constitute the spoken language. Using MEG recordings of the mismatch negativity (MMN, an index of permanent auditory cortical representations of native language speech sounds), we probed the do...
Article
This study examined how changes in different types of acoustic features are processed in the brain for both speech and non-speech sounds. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in native Finnish speakers presented with sequences of repetitive vowels (/e/) or complex harmonical tones interspersed with infrequent changes in duration, frequency...
Conference Paper
Mobile Learning' is a type of application/service that generally presumes to use mobile Internet technology for learning purposes. This paper focuses on discussing basic usability principles from Mobile Internet technologies in general. It is argued that part of the success of 'Mobile Learning' will depend on the extent to which current k nowledge...
Article
Brain mechanisms extracting invariant information from varying auditory inputs were studied using the mismatch-negativity (MMN) brain response. We wished to determine whether the preattentive sound-analysis mechanisms, reflected by MMN, are capable of extracting invariant relationships based on abstract conjunctions between two sound features. The...
Article
This study investigated how duration changes are processed in the human brain as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN), a component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP) reflecting sensory memory. Subjects were presented with sequences of repetitive 100-ms white noise bursts interspersed by occasional duration deviants which were 1, 10,...
Article
PROCESSING of the duration changes in speech and non-speech sounds was investigated using event-related potentials (ERPs). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with sequences of repetitive stimuli (tones or vowels) interspersed with changes (shortening or lengthening) in duration. For tones, lengthened stimuli elicited a larger mismatch neg...
Article
The ability to extract invariant relationships from physically varying stimulation is critical for example to categorical perception of complex auditory information such as speech and music. Human subjects were presented with tone pairs randomly varying over a wide frequency range, there being no physically constant tone pair at all. Instead, the i...
Article
Neural representations for abstract features of auditory stimuli were studied by presenting reading subjects with stimulus blocks composed of pairs of two closely spaced tones. There were frequent ascending standard pairs (i.e., the second tone was higher in frequency than the first tone) and occasional descending deviant pairs. Both types of pairs...
Article
The temporal constraints of auditory event synthesis were investigated using event-related potentials. Standard stimuli consisted of an initial constant-frequency segment followed by a frequency glide. Occasionally, stimuli deviating from this standard both in intensity and within the direction of the glide were presented in the otherwise repetitiv...
Article
Full-text available
This study evaluated the relative functions of pitch contours in infant-directed speech (IDS) by comparing it with adult- (ADS) and foreigner-directed speech (FDS). The shape of pitch contours derived from target words in speech samples was analysed using two novel algorithmic methods and a standard qualitative approach. Our findings indicate that...

Network

Cited By