My research is in normal and disordered voice analytics and the neural representation of communication through prosody.
I joined the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at Seton Hall University in 2014. Prior to that, I was at Northwestern University as an NIH/NIDCD trainee. I also spent some time abroad at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences and University of Geneva (Switzerland) as a research scientist. With a background in signal processing, speech science and psychology, I bring an interdisciplinary perspective to the speech and hearing sciences. Specifically, my unique background allows me to look at complex issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines and synthesize the various explanations to develop a more complete picture than would be possible from any one discipline alone. I encourage my students to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding topics in speech-language pathology, as it will provide them with the broad perspective required for becoming an effective clinician and working in cross-disciplinary teams.
I am also Director of the Voice Analytics and Neuropsychology Lab (VAN Lab). My research is one of the few that examines the link between the behavioral and neurological aspects (EEG, fMRI) of voice and prosody for the development of neuropsychological measures to predict speaker states (emotion, health, etc.). I am particularly interested in measures that describe and differentiate neurological diseases (such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's related dementia) and impairments. We are currently using an integrated approach of voice analysis and electroencephalography (EEG) or functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data to identify differences in timing and the interactions between the various brain regions involved in these processes. Other projects ongoing in the lab include modeling of speaker characteristics,such as the speaker's physical and personality traits (e.g., voice attractiveness) and psychological states and intentions (e.g., vocal stress and disagreement in social interactions), from his/her tone-of-voice or prosody, and relatedly, investigations of the neural representation of emotional expressions through prosody using fMRI in healthy adults and adults with Parkinson's disease.
Considering the many disciplines involved in my research, I welcome student participation from a variety of backgrounds and interests.
Some Past and Current Collaborations: Dr. Charles Larson (Northwestern University), Dr.David Eddins (University of South Florida), Dr. Don Robin (University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio), Dr. Johan Sundberg, Dr. John C. Rosenbek (University of Florida), Dr. Rahul Shrivastav (Michigan State University), Dr. Sascha Frühholz (Swiss Center for Affective Sciences), Prof. Didier Grandjean (University of Geneva), Prof. Klaus R. Scherer (Swiss Center for Affective Sciences).
- Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Florida
- M.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Florida
- B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Boston University
Grants and Fellowships
- 2014 – 2017 National Institutes of Health R03 (PI, NIH/NIDCD 1R03DC013883-01, "Understanding the Voice Control System in Parkinson's Disease", $380,000)
- 2012 – 2013 Faculty Research Grant (Northwestern University Research Grants Committee
- 2008 – 2009 Threadgill Dissertation Fellowship
- 2004 – 2006 Grinter Fellowship
- 2004 – 2005 University of Florida Graduate School Grant
Honors and Awards
- 2015 Researcher of the Year Award, Seton Hall University
- 2015 Conference Fellow for ASHA's Lessons for Success workshop (a nationally recognized and competitively selected trainee award for grant writing skills)
- 2012 Meritorious Poster Award at the ASHA Convention (48 awards in 1138 submissions)
- "A Method for Early Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Neurological Conditions from Voice and Speech," INVO reference number NU2014-091; Provisional Patent No. xx, filed on June 26, 2014 by Northwestern University. Inventors: Sona M. Patel, Charles R. Larson, Mahindra D. Patel.
- “Apparatus and Method for Speech Analysis,” Provisional Patent No. 61/187,450, filed on June 16, 2009, by the University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. Inventors: Sona Patel, Rahul Shrivastav.
- “Integrated Device and Techniques for the Remote Evaluation of a Subject's Emotive State” International Patent No. WO 2011/ 011413, issued on January 27, 2011. Assigned to the University of Florida. Inventors: Rahul Shrivastav, Karl Zawoy, Jenshan Lin, Sona Patel.
- Talking in fury: The cortico-subcortical network underlying the vocal expression of anger
Cerebral Cortex, doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu074,
- Voice attractiveness: Influence of stimulus type and duration
Behavioral Research Methods, 45, 405-413,
- Developing a single comparison stimulus for matching breathy voice quality
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55, 639-647,
- A preliminary model of emotional prosody using multidimensional scaling
Proceedings of Interspeech 2011, Florence, Italy, 2957-2960,
- A model for the prediction of breathiness in vowels
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129(3), 1605-1615,
- Mapping emotions into acoustic space: The role of voice production
Biological Psychology, 87, 93-98. Elsevier,