Research

Research

Research in the Faculty of Human Sciences spans a wide range of disciplines including psychology, early childhood, education, linguistics and cognitive science. There are opportunities for research collaboration and higher degree research in all of these areas with contributions from world class researchers in the field.

Research centres

The Faculty of Human Sciences is home to national, university, faculty and department research centres.

Macquarie University Research Centres

Faculty and Departmental Research Centres

Research facilities

The Faculty of Human Sciences offers world-class facilities which offers the best technology and a stimulating learning and research environment for our students, staff and organisations who partner with us.

World-first Simulation Hub

Simulation Hub Our faculty is home to the new state-of-the-art Simulation Hub. The first and only facility of its type in the world, the Simulation Hub draws a range of simulation devices under one roof enabling collaborative and cross-disciplinary research. Access leading
experts and collaborate on future-shaping research in human performance using the latest facilities, including:

World-class Australian Hearing Hub

The Australian Hearing Hub Our faculty has also been responsible for initiating the establishment of The Australia Hearing Hub located on campus. The hub gives you easy access to some of the country's best researchers and latest research facilities like the world's first magnetoencephalography. Some of the research facilities that are located in the Hearing Hub include:

These shared facilities can be used for collaborative research with an Australian Hearing Hub member organisation:

  • Anechoic Chamber
  • Shared Audiometric Room
  • Electromagnetically Shielded Room

Research seminars

Connect with our experts and leading researchers at our public lectures and research workshops.

Research workshops

Resilient Researcher Workshop

Date & Time: Monday 11 April 2016, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Venue: Manly Room, HR, Level 4 Building C5C, Macquarie University

Dr Shari Walsh will deliver the Resilient Researcher workshop for Early Career Researchers on Friday 11 April. Dr Walsh runs her own private practice as a psychologist and also works with Early Career Researchers to build the personal resilience, skills and strategies needed to thrive in the early years of a research career. This workshop will cover topics ranging from developing a support network, maintaining and managing multiple roles and demands, anxiety and stress management, perfectionism and realism, and action planning for the future. 

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In conversation with ..... A/Professor Debbie Haski-Leventhal

Date & Time: Thursday 31 March 2016, 12.30pm – 2pm

Venue: Continuum Room, Level 3 75 Talavera Rd, Macquarie University

The second of the University's ECR Networks "In conversation with…" sessions will see A/Professor Haski-Leventhal talk about her career: the highs and lows and the paths she has taken.  A/Professor Haski-Leventhal is a scholar on corporate social responsibility (CSR), the Faculty Leader of Corporate Citizenship and Director of Master of Social Entrepreneurship. She initiated and leads the MGSM CSR Partnership network, a network of leading Australian and international companies, non-profits and governmental departments aimed at developing an evidence-based dialogue on CSR. 

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In conversation with ..... Professor Amanda Barnier

Date & Time: Thursday 25 February 2016, 12.30pm – 2pm

Venue: Manly Room, HR, Level 4 Building C5C, Macquarie University

The first of the University's ECR Networks "In conversation with…" sessions is scheduled for Thursday 25th February. Professor Amanda Barnier - ARC Future Fellow, recipient of the Jim Piper Award for Excellence in Research Leadership and member of the newly formed University's ECR Network Advisory Group - will be the first speaker in the series. Amanda will speak with Distinguished Professor of Biology and PVC (Research Integrity and Development) Lesley Hughes about her career, research, and managing the challenges of balancing work and family while building a career on "soft money".  

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Beating the bounds: How prosody directs infants and adults to word boundaries

Date & Time: Tuesday 16 February 2016, 11am – 12pm

Venue: The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University

Speaker: Dr Laurence White, Plymouth Universit

Host: Dr Ivan Yuen

Variation in the pitch, length and loudness of speech sounds can facilitate listeners' segmentation of the speech stream into words and phrases. Whilst languages differ in how prosodic features are organised with respect to linguistic structure, some form-function associations may be universal. Firstly, the valency of interpretation of prosodic features appears consistent: sounds that are longer, louder or higher in pitch are more salient. Furthermore, the "Iambic-Trochaic Law" captures the observation that sounds made salient through higher pitch or greater loudness are interpreted as sequence-initial, whilst lengthened segments are interpreted as sequence-final.

Although phrase-final lengthening of vowels is ubiquitous and has been shown to be a cue to an upcoming boundary, consonants are lengthened word-initially in several prosodically diverse languages. In a series of artificial language learning experiments, with native speakers of English, Hungarian and Italian, we explore the importance of the localisation of such timing cues to speech segmentation, and find cross-linguistic support for a division between vowel lengthening and consonant lengthening that may reflect a predictive perceptual mechanism. We also discuss how prosodic cues might interact with other sources of segmentation information, such as word knowledge.  Finally, we present recent findings suggesting that infant exploitation of segmentation cues might be more strongly mediated by dialectal variation in infant-directed speech than previously thought


Dialect imitation across typologically distinct prosodic systems

Date & Time: Friday, 12th February 2016, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Venue: The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University

Speaker: Professor Mariapaola D'Imperio, Aix-Marseille Universite

Host: Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth

During the process of second language acquisition, both L1 phonemic and prosodic categories might be subject to transfer from the L1 to the L2. Among prosodic features, the early-acquired metrical and intonational properties of the L1 might shape L2 prosody and be partly the basis of the perception of Foreign Accent (FA). On the production side, speakers attempting to imitate an unfamiliar system must learn which factors govern the variability present in the target speech. This is expected to be more difficult when the speaker's native system and the target system are typologically distinct (Best 1995). Nevertheless, speakers can adjust phonetic details of their own segmental pronunciation so that they can narrowly resemble other speaker's productions, which they have just heard (Goldinger 1998, Nielsen 2007, 2010, inter alia), though studies of prosodic and intonational imitation have presented mixed results. On one side, it has been argued that speakers are only able to reproduce gross phonological patterns (Cole & Shattuck Hufnagel 2011) or else that both phonological and fine phonetic detail (such as tonal alignment and scaling) can be successfully reproduced (D'Imperio, Petrone & Cavone 2014). 

Both metrical and intonational typology can also vary among varieties of the same language, as in the case of Southern and Standard French (Selkirk 1977). At the foot level, languages such as English and Italian are trochaic, while a language such as Standard French shows an iambic structure (Hayes 1995). Also, at an intonational/typological level, while American English is a head language (Jun 2005), Singapore English is an edgelanguage. Given that learning an unfamiliar dialect or an L2 can be thought of as a process of long-term imitation, the studies reviewed here will be based upon the direct-imitation paradigm (German, Carlson & Pierrehumbert 2013). Hence, in this talk I'll summarize 3 studies concerning learners' imitations of either metrical or intonational properties of a typologically different language (French vs. Italian) or a different variety of the same language (Singapore vs. American English and Southern vs. Standard French). Our results show that, despite the structural difference, speaker of typologically different languages can rapidly imitate fine phonetic detail either related to metrical structure or intonational structure. Specifically, for the French L2 study, we show that L1 use is a predictor of how well the Italian learners' imitation process will apply as well as their generalization performance. Also, speakers of Singapore English are able to rapidly adapt and shift from an edge-based system to an accentual system within the time of the experiment, as well as finely tune intonation phonetic detail of tonal alignment so as to imitate a model American speaker's pronunciation. Finally, the degree of variability in successfully reproducing the target values appears to be also dependent on amount of exposure to the non-native, L2, dialect. I'll then discuss the results in terms of a general model of L2 prosodic acquisition.


The 'genius' of the language: discovering pervasive plan and unique design in linguistic description

Date & Time: Friday, 12th February 2016, 11:30am – 1:00pm
Venue: The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University
Speaker: Professor Anthony (Tony) Woodbury, The University of Texas at Austin

Host: Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth

As linguists most of us first encounter the intriguing phrase, the 'genius of the language' in Edward Sapir's 1921 book Language, by which he meant "a basic plan, a certain cut, to each language... much more fundamental, much more pervasive, than any single feature of it that we can mention' (p. 127). The phrase has inspired descriptive grammarians "to look for a characteristic overall Bauplan that makes sense of the language's particularities in an integrated way" (Evans & Dench 2006:153) and to identify pervasive and possibly unique interconnections among properties of grammar and features of communicative practice.

The purpose of Professor Woodbury's talk is to:

* Discuss some examples where linguists make claims about pervasive plan and unique design in their writing on particular languages;

* Distinguish this genre from explanation or treatment in historical, typological, or universalistic terms (to all of which, nevertheless, this genre makes important heuristic and substantive contributions);

* Assert that integrative thinking of this kind is an essential contribution to the charting of linguistic diversity, and is an important part of the creative intellectual contribution of descriptive linguists; and I want to urge descriptive grammarians and those who follow their work to make space for this kind of exploration.

He'll begin by surveying some examples of such contributions, and then present two cases from his own field work in order to explore the possibilities further, one from his work on Yupik-Inuit languages and from work together with his students on the Chatino languages of Oaxaca, Mexico.



Syntactic and pragmatic use of tonal boundary marking in French

Date & Time: Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 11am – 12pm

Venue: The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University

Speaker: Professor Mariapaola D'Imperio, Aix-Marseille Universite

Host: Dr Ivan Yuen

It is widely known that one of the functions of prosody is to signal the information structure of an utterance, i.e. its partitioning into Topic/Background and Focus. The phonology of intonation can also (among other linguistic means such as word order and morphological marking) convey structural differences such as focus scope and, in some languages, even focus type (cf. Face and D'Imperio 2005 for the difference between contrastive and broad focus in Italian and Spanish). Recent work on German and English intonation has recently questioned the impact of information structure in terms of the topic/comment partition on prosodic patterns. In contrast with stress-accent languages such as Italian, Spanish or English,  French does not appear to signal focus through pitch accent placement, rather it appears to mainly employ prosodic edge marking for the same purposes.

In the first part of the talk, Prof D'Imperio will build upon Fery's (Fery 2001) insight by showing that, while phrasing is one of the strategies that French adopts in order to signal focus, the forces driving it are probabilistic and that prosodic length constraints are also at work. Specifically, I shall show data (German and D'Imperio 2010, 2015) suggesting that the initial LHi rise of the Accentual Phrase (AP) may mark the left edge of contrastive focus regions in French, and that the probability of this marking increases with phrase length. Hence, both phrase length and focus scope appear to be the relevant, additive, factors for the appearance of an initial rise, while no interaction between them was found. In the second part of the talk, he will turn to another phrasing level, the intermediate phrase (ip). Very recent work shows that the emergence of an ip in French is not simply linked to a specific focus or marked syntactic structure, since a right ip boundary can occur within broad focus utterances whenever the syntactic and the prosodic structure allow it (Michelas and D'Imperio 2012, D'Imperio and Michelas 2014). Finally, he will show that the regularities found in production appear to be also actively employed in perception and morphosyntactic parsing decisions (Michelas & D'Imperio, 2015).


The assessment of teacher supportive behaviour in open phases of school lessons by means of video analysis – new approaches and findings from Hamburg University

Date & Time: Wednesday 10 February 2016, 10:00am - 11:00am

Venue: C5C Forum

Speaker: Dr Antonia Schulkmann

Host: Dr Matt Bower

In many instructional formats, the role of teachers is conceptualized in a new way: Formerly seen as knowledge mediators, teachers are now conceived as supporters of individual learning processes. However, evidence is scarce what makes teachers effective supporters, and what influences their supportive behaviours in open phases of school lessons. Current research on teachers' supportive behaviours such as the scaffolding approach (cf. van de Pol, Volman, & Beishuizen, 2010) often does not take the specifics of a naturalistic classroom situation into account. Consequently, new frameworks for analysis and explanation of teacher supportive behaviour in open learning phases are needed, which hold the potential to draw an integrative picture of the overall process.Video analysis has previously shown its potential to shed light on learning processes in naturalistic and especially in open phases of instruction (Knigge, Siemon, Nordstrand, & Stolp, 2013).  In its current research, the team of Prof. Jens Siemon at Universite¤t Hamburg seeks to assess teachers' supportive activities in the naturalistic setting of the classroom, and describe every supportive event in a way in which micro activities (on both the teacher's and on the student's side) and process characteristics are adequately considered. For this purpose, existing approaches (van de Pol & Elbers, 2013; Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976) were extended with the video-based recording and assessment procedure MuVA (Siemon, Boom, & Scholkmann, 2015) and the new video analysis software Interact (cf. Mangold, 2006).  In this process, two new manuals for analysis of teachers' supportive behaviours were developed. The first allows for documentation of occurrence and quality of teacher supportive behaviour events; the second documents micro activities as well as process characteristics of a teacher's supportive activities during that event. In her presentation, Dr. Scholkmann will elaborate on the potential of these manuals for analysis of teacher supportive behaviour in naturalistic and open learning situations. She will show both examples of the current material gathered at Univeriste¤t Hamburg and first results obtained with these manuals on the amount, quality, micro activities and process characteristics of teachers' supportive behaviours inferred from their dataset.


Please address any questions and requests for further information to Jo Tuck at humansciencesresearch@mq.edu.au

Public lectures

Do you see what I see? The new frontier in vision

  • Discover why the way you see objects and faces, and your ability to recognise them, may be different from that of others. 
  • Learn how cognitive neuroscientists are developing tests to precisely measure and compare these visual recognition abilities. 
  • Hear about research that is revealing how your brain processes visual information and how this changes with experience and practice.

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Sport-related concussions: consequences in the short and long term

  • Gain insights into why concussion amongst athletes is a major health crisis that needs to be addressed by treatment approaches that consider the underlying cause of the concussion.
  • Understand some of the mechanisms that may explain how multiple concussions can lead to progressive cognitive decline, and some of the treatment options that are currently being developed and tested.
  • Find out about a program of treatment delivery that is being implemented in Canada, with the aim of reaching as many sufferers of the enduring symptoms of concussion as possible.
  • Receive some general information on the short and long-term effects of single and multiple concussions

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Childrearing experts: Who to believe?

  • Gain insights into how you should respond to prolific expert opinions that currently exist about child development.
  • Find out if one size or 'advice' fits all, at all times and in all situations.
  • Learn about different areas, like moral behaviour, and how you can achieve the results you would like for your child.

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A Day on Drugs: What's the problem and how to reduce it

  • Consider addiction processes from different perspectives to provide a multi-disciplinary understanding of addiction
  • Reassess current therapies and their therapeutic efficacies
  • Help to determine pathways for translating research and to learn how industries can broaden this reach to impact our population.

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Higher Degree Research

We offer you the opportunity to work alongside world leading researchers in the fields of in cognitive sciences, education, health sciences, linguistics, philosophical psychology and psychology to answer deep questions about what makes us human. Learn more

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