Aarhus University Seal

Marjoleine's Conference

"Bias in Auditory Perception" is the name of an international linguistics conference to be held at Aarhus University from 18-20 September. The woman behind the conference is IMC researcher Marjoleine Sloos. But what exactly is bias in auditory perception and why do we need a conference about it? We asked Marjoleine.

Marjoleine Sloos, Postdoctoral Fellow, IMC (photo: Lars Pallesen)
Ready! (photo: Lars Pallesen)

Paving the Way in Linguistics

Her name is Marjoleine Sloos. Country of origin: The Netherlands. She usually signs her correspondence "Marj". If you ask her, "How do you pronounce Marj?", her answer is brief and succinct: "You don't. You can't pronounce it". Well, she should know, Marjoleine Sloos, she is a linguist after all, and proficient in about half a dozen languages. And right now she's very busy organizing and preparing her upcoming conference "Bias in Auditory Perception".  She's been working tirelessly towards this goal for almost a year - an international linguists conference at Aarhus University. Marjoleine Sloos has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Interacting Minds Centre since January 2014, where she's been occupied with her project “Paving the Way for a More Reliable Linguistics” - a project that she will pursue throughout 2015. This conference is part of that ongoing project.

From Shanghai to Aarhus

Before she moved to Aarhus and into an office at IMC, Marjoleine Sloos held a position as Assistant Professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. She earned her PhD in February 2013 from Groningen University in her homeland The Netherlands with a thesis entitled "Phonological Grammar and Frequency Effects: An Integrated Approach”. And now she's organizing a three-day conference at Aarhus University, "Bias in Auditory Perception", involving over 20 expert speakers from around the world. So what is this conference really about? We asked Marjoleine five questions to find out.

Catching Up To Visual Perception

What is the main focus of the conference?

"We'll come together to discuss different examples in which our perception of sound is influenced by another factor. For instance our believes - which may be false - about how the language variety sounds that we perceive influence the perception of speech sounds, and music appears to influence the mother's perception of a crying child."

Why is this important?

 "Two reasons. First, bias is well investigated in visual perception, but bias in auditory perception lags behind. We want to catch up! Second, linguists, neuroscientists, and musicologists have probably more common ground than they are aware of; this conference is meant to connect these researchers and their fields."

Which role has IMC played in your work to organize this conference?

 "It is great to work at the IMC and to get so much support from colleagues who make and update the conference websites and who take the responsibility for all administrative work and catering. And last but not least: the IMC has its own nice conference meeting room which we are going to use."

Networking And The Sound of Music

What do you hope to accomplish with the conference?

"I hope that the researchers who meet each other at the conference will stay in contact with each other and that others connect as well. To lay the basis for this, the conference program provides a lot of time for (social) networking including the conference dinner, a visit to the ARoS museum, and a discussion session. And we are going to publish a special issue of the journal Perception after the conference to reach a larger public."

What are your work plans after the conference?

"The conference is just the beginning of my project about auditory bias among linguistic researchers at the IMC. I will proceed with that next year. But we have other plans as well. I just received seed funding from the IMC to conduct an experiment in which we are going to investigate the influence of music on bias in linguistic perception with Chinese collaboration. And we are working on a new grant application to investigate linguistic bias with the latest neuroscientific methods. So keep track in the future!"

"Bias in Auditory Perception" 18-20 September| Aarhus University (DK), building 1441 - room 012 (aud. 1)