Kai Alter

Senior Research Fellow
A photograph of Kai Alter




Visiting Senior Research Fellow at University of Oxford, Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, Language & Brain Lab from June 2015 - September 2017

I am mostly interested in the brain responses during auditory processing in healthy subjects and patients after brain damage.

I am trying to find out how different brain areas interact and how affective and prosodic information is processed.


Research Interests:

Cognitive Neuroscience:

  • processing of prosodic and phonological information
  • processing of emotional sounds
  • processing of laughter
  • language processing in normal and clinical populations
  • evolution of emotional sound processing

Auditory processing:

  • the biological pathways of sound processing with respect to communication purposes
  • developmental aspects of speech & language processing
  • speech segmentation on phrase and discourse level using ERPs and fMRI
  • processing of durational, tonal, and spectral properties
  • auditory working memory


Research topics currently under investigation:

- processing of fronted fricatives in English; with Prof Aditi Lahiri, Drs Sandra Kotzor and Beinan Zhou.
- brain responses to intonation and pragmatics; with Dr Brechtje Post, Cambridge.
- processing of laughter; with Prof Dirk Wildgruber, Tuebingen.
- auditory working memory; with Prof James Law, Newcastle University.
- early development of speech processing; with Profs Sonja Frota and Marina Vigario, and Dr Barbara Leone Fernandez, Laboratorio de Fonetica & Lisbon Baby Lab, Lisbon University.



2002:   Habilitation, University of Leipzig
1994:   PhD Linguistics, University of Leipzig
1993:   Postgrad Phonetics, University of Lausanne
1993:   Postgrad Linguistics, University of Geneva
1990:   Master Linguistics, University of Leipzig
1990:   Masters French Linguistics
1988:   Master Russian Language, University of Belgorod


Current affiliations:

Senior Lecturer in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience at Newcastle University, Institute of Neuroscience

Affiliated to the University of Tuebingen, and the University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Associate Member of Laboratorio de Fonetica & Lisbon Baby Lab, Dept. Linguistica, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa


Publications 2015-2017:

I have a track record of about 110 publications, including 55 Journal papers, and my h-index is 35. My work has been cited more than 4000 times.

Jinxing Yue, Kai Alter, David Howard & Roelien Bastiaanse (2017): Early access to lexical-level phonological representations of Mandarin word-forms: evidence from auditory N1 habituation, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2017.1290261

Alter K. Le rire comme element essential de la communication sociale. In: Courtet,C; Besson,M; Lavocat,F; Viala,A, (eds.). Mises en intrigues. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2016, pp.199-210.

Post B, Alter K. Neural correlates of categorical linguistic and gradient paralinguistic intonation. In: 18th ICPhS 2015 International Conference on Phonetic Sciences. 2015, Glasgow: University of Glasgow. (selected for oral presentation).

Galán F, Baker MR, Alter K, Baker SN. (2015) Degraded EEG decoding of wrist movements in absence of kinaesthetic feedback. Human Brain Mapping. 2015 Feb;36(2):643-54.

Henrich K, Alter K, Wiese R, Domahs U. (2014) The relevance of rhythmical alternation in language processing: an ERP study on English compounds. Brain and Language 136:19-30.

Attaheri A, Kikuchi Y, Milne AE, Wilson B, Alter K, Petkov CI. EEG potentials associated with artificial grammar learning in the primate brain. Brain and Language, 2015 Sep; 148:74-80.