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Jessica S. F. Hay

Jessica S. F. HayJessica S. F. Hay
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin (2005)

Phone: (865) 974-3329
Web site:

Key words: infant language acquisition, speech perception, perceptual learning, perceptual & cognitive development

Research Interests

infant language acquisition, speech perception, perceptual learning, perceptual & cognitive development

Research statement

My research interests focus primarily on early language acquisition and speech perception. I am specifically interested in how human infants learn elements of language during early development and particularly in how their experience with statistical regularities in the world (and in the laboratory) interacts with their perceptual sensitivities to facilitate learning. We employ both developmental and cross-linguistic methodologies to investigate the interaction between perception and learning. Our recent research suggests that language experience has long-term consequences on how infants and adults perceive incoming sounds. Conversely, how we perceive sounds affects our ability to attend to and learn about the auditory world. Currently, we are investigating how statistical regularities and perceptual sensitivities impact phoneme acquisition, speech segmentation, and word learning in infants and toddlers.

Lab Web site:

  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2006-2009)
  • 2012    Pediatric Research Loan Repayment Program
    Agency: National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders  
    Role: PI
    Period: 7/2012 – 6/2014 
  • 2011     Canonical syllable production and perception in infants with hearing loss     
    Agency: National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders  
    Type of Grant: R03 
    Role: MPI with Deborah von Hapsburg
    Period: 08/2011 – 7/2014
    Total Amount: $437,579 
  • 2008     Auditory constraints on early language learning    
    Agency: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 
    Type of Grant:  Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows (F32) 
    Role: PI
    Period: 3/2008 – 3/2010

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Hay, J. F., Graf Estes, K. Wang, T., & Saffran, J. R. (in press). From flexibility to constraint: The contrastive use of lexical tone in early word learning. Child Development
    *Robertson, S., von Hapsburg, D. & Hay, J. F., (2013). The effect of hearing loss on the perception of infant- and adult-directed speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 1108-1119.
  • Hay, J. F. & Saffran, J. R. (2012). Rhythmic grouping biases constrain infant statistical learning. Infancy, 1-32.
    Hay, J. F., Pelucchi, B., Graf Estes, K., & Saffran, J. R. (2011). Linking sounds to meanings: Infant statistical learning in a natural language. Cognitive Psychology, 63(2), 93-106.
    Pelucchi, B., Hay, J. F., & Saffran, J. R. (2009). Learning in reverse: 8-month-old infants track backward transitional probabilities. Cognition, 113, 244-247.
    Pelucchi, B., Hay, J. F., & Saffran, J. R. (2009). Statistical learning in a natural language by 8-month-old infants. Child Development, 80 (3), 674-685.
    Hay, J. F. & Diehl, R. L. (2007). Perception of Rhythmic Grouping:  Testing the  Iambic/Trochaic Law. Perception & Psychophysics. 69(1), 113-122.
    Hay, J. F., Sato, M., Coren, A. E., Moran, C.L.& Diehl, R. L. (2006). Enhanced contrast for vowels in utterance focus:  A cross-language study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119, 3022-3033.
  • Burlingame, E., Sussman, H.M., Gillam, R. B., & Hay, J. F. (2005). An investigation of speech perception in children with specific language impairment on a continuum of formant transition duration. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 48(4), 805-816.

indicates student co-author

Invited Book Chapters

  • Hay, J. F. & Lany, J. (2012). Sensitivity to statistical information begets learning in early language development. In Williams, J. and Rebuschat, P. (Editors). Statistical Learning and Language Acquisition. De Gruyter Mouton, 91-118.
  • Hay, J. F. (2009). Statistical learning of language. In: Squire L.R. (Ed). Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, volume 9, pp. 387-392. Oxford: Academic Press.

Conference Proceedings

  • Hay, J. F. & Garcia-Sierra, A. (2005). Effects of linguistic experience on perception and learnability of non-speech categories. Proceedings from the ISCA Workshop on Plasticity in Speech Perception, London, UK.  
  • Hay, J. F. & Diehl, R. L. (1999). Effect of duration, intensity, and F0 alternation on rhythmic
    grouping.  Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences,
    San Francisco, CA.


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