Faculty Profiles

Stacy Betz

Patricia K. Kuhl, Ph.D.

  • Infant speech perception
  • Cross-language speech perception by infants and adults
  • Plasticity of brain mapping for speech perception

Dept. of Speech & Hearing Sciences
       (For Campus Mail only: Box 354875)
University of Washington
1417 NE 42nd St.
Seattle, WA 98105-6246


Office:(206) 685-1921 Fax:(206) 598-7815
Education & Research: Normal Processes Division
Faculty & Staff Directory

Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl is the William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor at the University of Washington. In 1998, Dr. Kuhl received the Faculty Lectureship Award from the University of Washington, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and became President of the Acoustical Society of America.

Dr. Kuhl's research interests focus on the study of language and speech, particularly its development, and on how language information is processed by the brain. Her research has played a major role in demonstrating how early exposure to language alters the mechanisms of perception, changing a person's abilities to hear certain distinctions in speech. Her work also shows that the processing of language information occurs through multiple modalities, including vision and audition, both in early infancy and adulthood. The results of Dr. Kuhl's studies have illustrated how infants' early auditory experience plays a critical role in the acquisition of language in the first year of life. The work has broad implications, extending to psychology, ethology, and biology for its identification of critical periods in development; to linguistics and education for its applicability to bilingual education; to neuroscience for its implications for brain mapping of complex information; and to engineering for its implications concerning how computers might be programmed to respond to spoken language.

Dr. Kuhl is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Society, and the Acoustical Society of America. She has published several papers in the journal Science, the premier journal for experimental results that have important implications across a wide variety of disciplines. In 1990, she won the Distinguished Alumni Award from her undergraduate institution. In 1997, she was awarded the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America. She is a Research Affiliate of the Neuroscience Research Group in La Jolla, CA run by Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman. Dr. Kuhl was one of six scientists invited to the White House to make a presentation at the President and Mrs. Clinton's Conference on "Early Learning and the Brain" in April of 1997. Her work has been widely covered by the press regarding implications for language processing in humans and language processing by computers. In 1999, she co-authored The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn with William Morrow Press.

Selected Publications

Kuhl, P. K. & Miller, J. D. (1975). Speech perception by the chinchilla: Voiced-voiceless distinction in alveolar plosive consonants. Science, 190, 69-72.
Kuhl, P. K. & Meltzoff, A. N. (1982). The bimodal perception of speech in infancy. Science, 218, 1138-1141.
Kuhl, P. K. (1991). Human adults and human infants show a “perceptual magnet effect” for the prototypes of speech categories, monkeys do not. Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 93-107.
Kuhl, P. K., Williams, K. A., Lacerda, F., Stevens, K. N. & Lindblom, B. (1992). Linguistic experience alters phonetic perception in infants by 6 months of age. Science, 255, 606-608.
Kuhl, P. K., Andruski, J. E., Chistovich, I. A., Chistovich, L. A., Kozhevnikova, E. V., Ryskina, V. L., Stolyarova, E. I., Sundberg, U., & Lacerda, F. (1997). Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science, 277, 684-686.
Doupe, A., & Kuhl, P. K. (1999). Birdsong and speech: Common themes and mechanisms. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 22, 567-631.
Kuhl, P. K. (2000). A new view of language acquisition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, 11850-11857.
Liu, H. -M, Kuhl, P. K. & Tsao, F. -M. (2003). An association between mother’s speech clarity and infants’ speech discrimination skills. Developmental Science 6, 1-10.
Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F. -M, & Liu, H. -M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 100, 9096-9101.
Tsao, F.-M., Liu, H.-M., & Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Speech perception in infancy predicts language development in the second year of life: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 75, 1067-1084.
Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Early language acquisition: Cracking the speech code. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5, 831-843.
Kuhl, P. K., Coffey-Corina, S., Padden, D., and Dawson, G. (2004). Links between social and linguistic processing of speech in preschool children with autism: behavioral and electrophysiological evidence. Developmental Science, 7, 19-30.
Rivera-Gaxiola, M., Silva-Pereyra, J., and Kuhl, P.K., Brain potentials to native-and non-native speech contrasts in seven and eleven-month-old American infants. Developmental Science (2004 (In press)).