John Westbury, Ph.D.

Position title: Emeritus Professor


Courses Taught

CS&D 201: Speech Science
CS&D 318: Speech Pathology II (Fluency)
CS&D 708: Developmental Speech Disorder

Research Statement

For more than a decade, John has been Director of the X-ray Microbeam (XRMB) Laboratory located in the Waisman Center, where he studies how talkers move to speak. This laboratory has been in continuous operation for more than 20 years, supported mainly by various grants from NIH/NIDCD, and was originally developed by other faculty at UW-Madison as the centerpiece of a proposed shared national resource for speech physiology research. John came to the laboratory as an Associate Scientist in 1986, from the Dental Research Center at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. The XRMB system is a technologically unique device for obtaining so-called “point-parameterized” recordings of articulatory movements. Its methods and representational conventions are especially well-suited to the collection of unprecedentedly large samples of information encompassing many speech tasks and talkers. Such samples provide bases for accurate, quantitative, statistically defensible descriptions of speech-related tongue, lip, and jaw movements recorded from normal and disordered talkers. A product of this large-sample capability is the freely available XRMB Speech Production Database, first made public in 1994.

In recent years, John has been an investigator on an NIDCD-funded project designed to better understand the articulatory bases of intelligibility deficits accompanying the dysarthrias associated with Parkinson disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Recent accomplishments include an algorithmic approach for parsing speech into tractable stroke-like ‘units’ especially well-suited for the study of goal-directed movement; a quantitative comparison of competing methods for ‘decoupling’ tongue and lip movements from concurrent movements of the jaw; a unique acoustic and kinematic study of compensatory articulation arising from the self-imposed ‘disorder’ we call ‘ventriloquism;’ and, comparisons of movement coordination among talkers with neurogenic disorders and normal controls.

Representative Publications

Tasko, S. M., & Westbury, J. R. (2004). Speech-curvature relations for speech-related articulatory movement. Journal of Phonetics, 32, 65-80.

Weismer, G., Yunusova, Y., & Westbury, J. R. (2003). Interarticulator coordination in dysarthria: An x-ray microbeam study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 1247-1261.

Westbury, J. R., & Weiss, C. J. (2003). Articulator movements in ventriloquists’ speech. Proceeding of the 15th Int. Cong. of Phonetic Sciences, Barcelona, Spain.

Westbury, J. R., McClean, M. D., & Lindstrom, M. J. (2002). Tongues and lips without jaws: A comparison of methods for decoupling speech movements. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 651-662.

Westbury, J. R., Severson, E. J., and Lindstrom, M. J. (2000). Kinematic event patterns in speech: Special problems. Language and Speech, 43, pp. 403-428.