Helping learners conceptually expand the larynx with (computational) modeling

22 Sep 2023 03.30 PM - 05.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Francesco Cavallaro

Learning how the larynx works is a daunting task because of its anatomical complexity, the nuances of its muscle actions, and its many functions, including swallowing, speech, and singing. One particular trouble for learning about the larynx is that attention is often placed on just the vocal folds, with the rest of the larynx being an afterthought. In this talk, I will present some of the techniques that I have used over the years to help learners gain insight into the full extent of this unique and beautiful marvel of nature hiding at the bottom of our throats. One of my main teaching strategies is to make use of various types of modeling. I will discuss how I use “body” models to engage students in embodied learning experiences as they “become the larynx”. I will also talk about the use of in-class sculpting activities which help reveal conceptual trouble spots, such as accidental flattening of laryngeal structures because of their flat appearance in diagrams and laryngoscopic images. However, the main focus of the talk will be on my efforts to develop computer models as a means to investigate the larynx. In particular, I will discuss my most recent work on revitalizing an interactive laryngeal visualization tool that I created many years ago. I have updated this model with a new physics engine and packaged it into an app. This new app, called Laryngonaut, is targeted for Android, iOS, and other platforms, and it will be free to download. My hope is that it will provide people with a fun way to learn about the entire larynx for many years to come.

Scott Moisik is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His focus is on the ‘meat’ of speech: he does research on speech production with an emphasis on anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics of speech, and the genetic, developmental, and evolutionary underpinnings of the vocal tract. He is interested in how these factors, along with the aerodynamic, acoustic, perceptual, and social facets of speech, conspire to shape speech sound systems, both giving rise to striking similarities yet also diversity from one language to the next.