School of Communication

Beverly A. Wright

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Beverly A. Wright

Professor
b-wright@northwestern.edu
Frances Searle Building
2240 Campus Drive, Room  2-248
Evanston, IL 60208-2952
847-491-2453
Graduate Programs: Communication Sciences and Disorders

 

Beverly Wright and her students explore the general principles of auditory learning, a process that leads to dramatic improvements in perceptual skills. The lab seeks to identify the circumstances that are necessary for learning to occur as well as those that disrupt learning. These principles are examined using stimuli ranging from simple sounds to speech, and tasks ranging from fine-grained discrimination to categorization and intelligibility. For example, the lab has demonstrated that exposure to an acoustic stimulus can facilitate learning on a perceptual task, but only when that exposure occurs within ~30 minutes of practice on that task. Although the lab's research program focuses on normal adults, it also pursues how learning changes with age, sensory experience (hearing loss), and cognitive background (e.g., language and reading disorders). One proposal currently under study with a learning paradigm is that individuals with reading disorders often perform poorly on auditory perceptual tasks because their perceptual development is delayed in childhood and then halted during adolescence. Thus, research on perceptual learning may lead to more effective training strategies for those with perceptual disorders and may be used as objective, clinical measures to guide diagnosis and treatment of cognitive disorders.

Lab Affiliation

Principal Investigator, Psychoacoustics Laboratory

Education

PhD Experimental Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
BS English and Linguistics, Indiana University

Publications

Huyck, J.J. and Wright, B.A. (2011) "Late maturation of auditory perceptual learning," Developmental Science, 14, 614-621.

Wright, B.A., Wilson, R.M., and Sabin, A.T. (2010) "Generalization lags behind learning on an auditory perceptual task," Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 11635-11639.

*Wright, B.A., Sabin, A.T., Zhang, Y., Marrone, N., and Fitzgerald, M.B. (2010) "Enabling perceptual learning by alternating practice with sensory stimulation alone," Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 12868-12877.

Ortiz, J.A. and Wright, B.A. (2010) "Differential rates of consolidation of conceptual and stimulus learning following training on an auditory skill," Experimental Brain Research, 201, 441-451.

Banai, K, Ortiz, J.A., Oppenheimer, J.D., and Wright, B.A. (2010) "Learning two things at once: Constraints on the acquisition phase of perceptual learning," Neuroscience, 165, 436-444.

Ortiz, J.A. and Wright, B.A. (2009) "Contributions of multiple types of learning to early, rapid perceptual improvements" Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 188-194.

Wright, B.A. and Sabin, A.T. (2007) "Perceptual learning: How much daily training is enough?," Experimental Brain Research. 180, 727-736.

*Wright, B.A. and Zecker, S.G. (2004) "Learning problems, delayed development, and puberty," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101, 9942-9946.

*Wright, B.A., Lombardino, L.J., King, W.M., Puranik, C.S., Leonard, C.M., and Merzenich, M.M. (1997). "Deficits in auditory temporal and spectral resolution in language-impaired children," Nature, 387, 176-178.

(* indicate articles that were featured on the journal cover or selected for press release)

Additional publications

Recent Awards and Honors

2007 Clarence Simon Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring, School of Communication, Northwestern University
2003 Fellow, Acoustical Society of America
1995 R. Bruce Lindsay Award, Acoustical Society of America

Current Funding

NIH/NIDCD R01 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant plus ARRA Supplement
Title: "Learning on basic auditory tasks."

Courses

CSD 306 Introduction to Psychoacoustics
CSD 412 Scientific Writing