I’m Matthias Heyne, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University (more specifically, the Speech Neuroscience Laboratory, PI Prof. Frank Guenther). My research explores the relationship of referential and non-referential forms of communication, such as language and (instrumental) music, respectively. More specifically, it looks at the cognitive and biomechanical processes underlying human behavior, and how they manifest themselves in the movements of the facial-oral-laryngeal-respiratory musculature and hopefully, in future research, the activation of specific areas of the brain. I endeavor to answer questions like: Is it possible that skilled motor behavior could influence other, less skilled activities? Does the (non-)referential nature of certain motor actions affect their transferability across domains?

Most of the content of this website (for now) is related to my interdisciplinary work on the influence of native language on playing brass instruments, conducted as part of my PhD in Linguistics at the University of Canterbury/New Zealand Institute of Language Brain and Behaviour. I used ultrasound imaging of the tongue to observe midsagittal tongue positioning during speech production and trombone performance and my full thesis is available here: The influence of First Language on playing brass instruments: An ultrasound study of Tongan and New Zealand trombonists (2016).

I have also investigated the articulation (approximant /r/, articulatory vowel space) and sociophonetics (schwa in final- vs. non-word-final environments) of New Zealand English and, at Boston University, have started applying diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI – an MRI-based neuroimaging technique) to study the neural correlates underlying disorders such as stuttering and autism.

My aim with this website is not only to provide information about my research (and a little bit about myself) but to build this into a repository listing any kind of research that relates language (Linguistics) and music.

Please contact me if you do interdisciplinary research on language and music or with any other questions!

As you can tell this website is still a work-in-progress so please check back at a later time!

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