How to Run: simonSyllableTransfer

Running simonSyllableTransfer (2022)


What's special about this experiment

During the "Practice with Stimulus Words" pretest phase, you may need to coach the participant on how to pronounce the stimulus words.

During the "Main Phase", there are sections where the participant will hear their own voice, and sections where they will only hear noise. The computer will take care of that for you, though.

Prepping for participant

In this study, use the Understanding Speech Behavior consent form.

Before the participant arrives

Enter check_audioLevels then click Part A. (full check_audioLevels guide here)

  1. Turn on SPL meter and press Fast/Slow and Level.
  2. Adjust the volume on the black amplifier (the "Your Headphones" and "pp headphones" knobs) until the SPL meter reads 59.5 to 60.5 dB.
  3. Measure both the participant's headphones and your headphones
  4. Press spacebar to stop.
  5. Turn off SPL meter

Set out a paper copy of the appropriate consent form (highlighted above) on the participant's desk.

New! Fall 2023 Set the experiment mic gain (on the red Focusrite) to the 3:00 position.

Open the lab email and monitor for participant's arrival.

How to access the lab email

  1. In the web browser, open your personal UW email inbox through Outlook. You can do this through MyUW if needed.
  2. In the top right corner, click the circle with your profile picture/initials.
  3. Click Open another mailbox
  4. Enter and click Open

If it's the appointment time but the participant hasn't called/emailed yet

  1. Find the participant's phone number.
    1. If you have access to Qualtrics (ie if you're on this list), use the Finding Experiment Running Info KB page to find the participant and phone #
    2. If you don't have Qualtrics access, Slack the lab manager and ask for the phone number
  2. Wait 5 minutes past the scheduled appointment time, then call the participant.
    1. If they are at the building, on their way, or can arrive really soon, continue with the appointment
    2. If we have back-to-back participants such that them arriving late is going to mess up another participant, just tell them that the lab manager will email to reschedule
    3. You don't need to leave a message

When the participant arrives

They're supposed to either calling the phone in 544 or email

If they call, confirm they're in the Waisman Center lobby. If they email, send back a short reply like, "Be right there!"

Parking passes are available from the 2nd floor business office (by KeyWatcher)

Meet the participant downstairs

Greet them in the lobby, go upstairs, and direct them to 544A.

Participants can wear a mask anywhere in the building, but they MUST remove their mask during speaking tasks.


The consent form must be completed before any other tasks. Participants may have completed the consent form online ahead of time -- the experiment running sheet will tell you what to do. If the participant says "oh, I already did it," but the running sheet says they need it, just have them sign it again. Here is a link to the consent form.

If they haven't completed the consent form yet: "This is a consent form for participation in our study. It tells you about our research and what you will be doing today. You will be sitting in front of the computer for about an hour, and reading aloud the words you see on the screen. You will wear headphones and speak into a microphone, and your speech will be recorded. If at any time you would like to stop participating in the study, that is okay. You will still be compensated for the time you have spent here today. All of your information will be kept confidential, and if you have any questions, you can ask me today or contact our lead researcher, Dr. Carrie Niziolek at the number listed on the consent form. I will give you some time to look this over now. The paper copy on the desk is yours to keep, but we will have you digitally sign the copy on the computer."

We must give the participant a copy of the consent form. If they choose to take it or leave it is up to them.

Hearing screening

More detailed instructions are here: How to conduct a hearing screening (full) KB guide.

Run the test

  1. "Next you will complete a hearing screening. Please silence or turn off your cell phone and anything else that might make noise, then move to the other side of the desk and take a seat in the green chair."
  2. If the audiometer is already on, turn it off. Press and hold both knobs until the screen goes blank.
  3. Touch the "tone" button on the audiometer to turn it on.
  4. Give the participant instructions
    1. During the test, you will hear tones played through the headphones at different pitches and volumes. Whenever you hear a tone, immediately press the button on the clicker. Some of the tones will be very very quiet, so it's normal to not hear every one. Just press the button as soon as you do hear a tone.

      The test takes about 10 minutes, and I will tell you when it's over.

      Do you have any questions?

      Go ahead and put the headphones securely over your ears. Red on the right, blue on the left.
  5. Press the Hz wheel to cycle the menu. You should now see "HW" above F4
  6. Press F4. The audiometer will now automatically run through the Hughson-Westlake test.
    1. Once you stop seeing "HW test" printed at the top of the screen and instead see the default screen (30 dbHL, R ear, 1000 Hz), the test is done.
  7. When they're done: "You are finished with the hearing screening. Put the headphones and clicker back on the desk and move back to the other side of the desk, in front of the computer. Please wait a minute while I get the next part set up."
  8. Press the Hz wheel to cycle the menu and press F3 for "Thres"
  9. Use F2 and F3 to arrow through the thresholds.
    1. If all of the thresholds are 25 dbHL or lower, they have "passed" the screening.
    2. If any of the thresholds are 30 dbHL or higher, see Step 4 in the full guide for instructions.

Save the data

  1. Open the Diagnostic Suite program on the computer.
  2. Click the icons in this order. In the text box, enter the participant ID, the experiment, and today's date. If the --> button doesn't show up, first try unplugging and replugging the leftmost grey cable on the audiometer. If it still doesn't show up, instead go to C:\Users\Public\Documents\audiometer and open the file called "zzTemplate.txt". Enter the values manually into the text file, then go to File >> Save As and save the name with the participant's initials. Close Diagnostic Suite and turn off the audiometer.
    1. Click Factory defaults, then Single Audiogram, then Select
  3. Double click the desktop icon called "Audiometer Results - local" and check that a new file has been saved. (Or navigate to C:/Users/Public/Documents/audiometer)
  4. Rename this file to the participant ID number
  5. Open the file and check that the audiogram was correctly loaded
  6. Close Diagnostic Suite. When it asks if you want to save, click No

Turn off the audiometer

  1. Press and hold both knobs until the screen goes blank

Participant History survey

If this is the participant's first visit, or their first visit in a while, they will complete the Participant History survey:

Fill out the first page, click >>, then move the window to the participant's screen.

"Next you'll fill out a short survey. It asks for some demographic information we have to report, and also some other information we think is useful to our research."


If they ask: "I wear glasses. Is that a vision impairment?" The answer is YES.

One question asks, "what cities or towns have you lived in?" They should list anywhere that they lived for at least 1 year, including Madison if they go to college here.

Other reminders

"The water bottles to the right of the screen are for you. You may use your own water as well.

"Please line up your chair with the outline taped on the floor."

Run check_audioLevels Part B

"You can put on the headphones now."

"We're now going to calibrate the microphone. Throughout the experiment, please speak at a comfortable volume. In just a second, you will start hearing noise played through the headphones. When you do, say the word "head" with the vowel very long. Like this: "heeeeead". You may need to say "head" a couple times."

Enter check_audioLevels then click Part B

  1. Turn on SPL meter and press Fast/Slow and Level.
  2. Adjust the microphone gain on the red Focusrite (the "experiment mic" knob) until the SPL meter reads 78~82 dB.
  3. Press spacebar to stop.
  4. Turn off SPL meter

Pretest phase: LPC Order

"This experiment has two short sections that last about a minute, and then one long section at the end. There will be breaks between sections while I set up the next part.

"For each section, you will see one word at a time appear on the screen. When you see the word on screen, read it out loud, just like you would normally say it. You will be speaking into the microphone, and you will hear your own voice and some noise played back through these headphones. Do you have any questions?"

Matlab command: run_simonSyllableTransfer_expt

After the pp finishes 30 trials, the the check_audapterLPC GUI will appear. Adjust the LPC order until the values of formant track mostly overlap with the real formants you observe in the spectrograms. Use the exclude/include button to exclude trials where the tracking is really wrong.

Pretest phase: Practice with stimulus words

"In this next section, just like last time, read the words when they appear on screen. This is to practice the words used in the main part of the experiment."

Press ENTER to run the practice section.

The participant will be saying "pen," "ten," "hen," "pen a ten," or "penitentiary." The goal here is that the participant pronounces the words the way we want:

  • For "penitentiary," they can pronounce it any way: "pen-uh-ten-chree" or "pen-uh-ten-chuh-ree" or "pen-uh-ten-chee-air-ee" are all okay. They just need to say it the same way each time.
  • For "pen a ten," they should pronounce it as a single phrase without noticeable gaps between the different words.

Redo this section if, by the end of the section, the participant isn't pronouncing the words the way we want. Give instructions for how they should say the words.

After a successful run-through, enter "move on".

Main Phase

"For the final section, you will be doing the same task again, but with more trials. It will take about 45 minutes total. Also, sometimes when you talk into the microphone, you will only hear noise and not your voice.

"So, to repeat the instructions: when you see the phrase appear on screen, read it out loud.

"Do you have any questions before we start?"

Press ENTER to start main phase.

During the experiment, there are sections where the participant will hear their voice mixed with noise. These sections are labeled Baseline, Ramp, Hold, and Washout in the monitoring GUI. There are two sections labeled Transfer1 and Transfer2 where the participant will not hear their voice and will only hear noise. Due to the Lombard effect, people will talk louder during the Transfer sections. You do not need to lower the microphone gain during the Transfer sections; changing the microphone gain during the Transfer sections has no impact on how loud or quiet the noise is.

If you need to pause, hold down the 'p' key on the keyboard.

After the experiment

"Great job! You are finished with the speaking portion of the experiment, so you can take the headphones off. The last thing I'll have you do is fill out one short questionnaire. Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise, let me know when you're finished."

Administer awareness questionnaire, selecting simonSyllableTransfer

After they finish the questionnaires, explain the purpose of the study: 

"Great! We are all done with the experiment now. If you would like, I can tell you a bit about the purpose of the study." (If they say Yes, continue.)

"You may have noticed that during part of the experiment, you heard something different through the headphones than what you said into the microphone. In this study, we sometimes tried to make the vowel in "pen" and "ten" sound like a different vowel. We know from previous research that when people hear a different vowel than they were trying to say, they learn to adjust their speech. In this study, we want to know if people adjust how they say the vowel in "penitentiary" and "pen a ten" based on how they adjusted to the words "ten" and "pen".

"Like all of our lab's research, we hope this study will eventually help people with brain damage who have trouble talking. We know that when you talk, your brain gets information from your mouth muscles and your ears, but scientists like us are still trying to understand exactly how that information works together to make fluent speech. Thank you for helping us get closer to answering that question."


If paying by check, this experiment pays $15/hr. Round up to the nearest 20-minute ($5) increment. Use the "Katie's Hilldale (simonSyllableTransfer)" money sign-off sheet.

"As payment, you can receive a check or extra credit in a CSD course. Which would you prefer?"

  • If extra credit, ask which class they want it for, and write that on the experiment running sheet
  • If check, fill out the check.
    • The pay rate is listed at the top of this section. The pay table is below.
    • Verify spelling of participant's first and last name. They may bank with a different name than they use in conversation
    • Notify participant that they need to cash/deposit the check in 90 days
    • Have participant initial the appropriate money sign-off sheet (mentioned above)

Pay table for $15/hr

If pay rate is $15/hr
Duration (mins) Duration (hrs + mins) Amount paid
0 - 60 mins 0 - 60 mins $15
61 - 80 mins 1hr 1min - 1hr 20min $20
81 - 100 mins 1hr 21mins - 1hr 40mins $25
101 - 120 mins 1hr 41mins - 2hr $30
121 - 140 mins 2hr 1min - 2hr 20min $35
141 - 160 mins 2hr 21min - 2hr 40min $40
161 - 180 mins 2hr 41min - 3hr $45
181 - 200 mins 3hr 1min - 3hr 20min $50
201 - 220 mins 3hr 21min - 3hr 40min $55
221 - 240 mins 3hr 41min - 4hr $60

Pay table for $20/hr

If pay rate is $20/hr
Duration (mins) Duration (hrs + mins) Amount paid
0 - 60 mins 0 to 60 mins $20
61 - 90 mins 1hr 1min - 1hr 30min $30
91 - 120 mins 1hr 31min - 2hrs $40
121 - 150 mins 2hr 1min - 2hr 30mins $50
151 - 180 mins 2hr 31min - 3hrs $60
181 - 210 mins 3hrs 1min - 3hrs 30min $70
211 - 240 mins 3hrs 31min - 4hrs $80



After the participant leaves

  1. Copy participant data from local drive to smng server (see PURPLE section below these numbered points)
  2. If you completed a hearing screening, copy the results from the local drive to the smng server
    1. There are folders on the desktop called "audiometer results - local" and "audiometer results - server". Drag the participant's audiometer results file from the "local" to the "server" folder.
  3. Fill out Lab Notebook, located in \\wcs-cifs\wc\smng\admin\
  4. Fill out check register or the extra credit register, located in \\wcs-cifs\wc\smng\admin\
  5. Double-check that the Experiment Checklist is complete
  6. Return the Experiment Running Sheet and the Checklist to the lab manager

To copy the participant data: The data will be saved in C:\Users\Public\Documents\experiments\simonSyllableTransfer\acousticData\. Copy the participant's folder into: \\wcs-cifs\wc\smng\experiments\simonSyllableTransfer\acousticData 

If Matlab crashes during the experiment

If MATLAB crashes while the experiment is running, or if the MATLAB script stops completely at some point, do the following:
  1. Tell the participant: "Something has gone wrong with the computer. Please wait for a few minutes while I try to fix it."
  2. Completely close Matlab.
  3. Reopen Matlab.
    1. IF you had not yet started the Main Phase, then you will need to completely restart the experiment. Enter run_simonSyllableTransfer_expt in the command window and go back to Pretest Phase. Run the experiment as normal.
    2. IF INSTEAD you had gotten any number of trials into the Main Phase, continue reading.
  4. In Matlab, navigate to the participant's data folder in C:\Users\Public\Documents\experiments\simonSyllableTransfer\acousticdata\sp###
  5. Load in the expt.mat file
  6. Enter restart_simonSyllableTransfer_expt(expt). It will ask you if you want to start on a certain trial #. If that looks right, say yes, and you're off to the races.
If it crashes again, you can follow the same steps again. Note in the lab notebook that a crash occurred.


Keywordshow to run, simon, sst, transfer, syllable, simonsyllable, simonsyllabletransfer, run,   Doc ID119927
OwnerChris N.GroupSMNG Lab Manual
Created2022-07-26 13:03:59Updated2023-09-07 09:06:36
SitesSpeech Motor Neuroscience Group
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