Yune S. Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Director of Speech, Language, and Music (SLAM) Laboratory
In 2020, Dr. Yune Lee joined the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. His research has been funded by numerous grants including NIH, NSF, Parkinson’s Foundation, AWARE Dallas and Friends of BrainHealth. Dr. Lee was chosen as one of the first recipients of Music & Health, an NIH-Kennedy Center partnership. His research has been included in US News & World Report and a wide range of other media outlets.
Dr. Lee started his career at Samsung, Seoul, S. Korea, where he was involved in company commercials, broadcasting and marketing projects. He then joined a music studio where he produced a number of songs and jingles for television commercials, movies and events. During this time, he began to realize the power of music on the human mind and body. This growing curiosity led him to pursue Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College. He then delved into more clinically oriented neuroscience research during his postdoctoral work at Penn Neurology, part of the University of Pennsylvania. While at The Ohio State University, Dr. Lee started operating the SLAM Lab (Speech, Language, and Music laboratory), which he currently continues to lead at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Dr. Lee’s lab has been developing a non-invasive brain enhancement method using sound — specifically musical rhythm for developmental language disorders. This is based upon emerging evidence demonstrating connections between music and language. For example, children’s musical rhythm skills are predictive of their language, especially grammar proficiencies. Conversely, children with dyslexia show poor rhythm skills. Importantly, a recent pilot experiment found that rhythmic auditory stimulation yielded better performance on a subsequent spoken sentence comprehension task than control auditory stimulation in healthy young adults. This naturally invites therapeutic potential of sound therapy for individuals with language disorders. The behavioral findings warrant neuroimaging studies to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the therapeutic impact of auditory rhythmic stimulation.
Recent advances in brain research have revealed behavioral connections between musical rhythm and linguistic syntax.
This study observes children with good rhythm skills understanding grammatically complex sentences better than children with poor rhythm skills.
This study suggests that even slight variations in hearing acuity impact the brain systems required to accurately understand speech.
This study documents how fMRI scans from patients living with chronic aphasia reveal how neural activity can predict their accuracy in identifying images.
Because many individuals with aphasia can sing even when they cannot talk, melodic-intonation therapy has been accepted as a viable aphasia therapy.
We are the auditory neuroscience lab at the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. My lab conducts interdisciplinary projects investigating relations between speech, language, and music (SLAM) in the context of neurological disorders.
Hearing Loss and Cognition
Might early hearing impairment lead to cognitive challenges later in life? Dr. Lee talks with us in episode 30 about his research into how even minor hearing loss can increase the cognitive load required to distinguish spoken language. His open-access article “Differences in hearing acuity among ‘normal-hearing’ young adults modulate the neural basis for speech comprehension” was published with multiple co-authors in the May 2018 issue in eNeuro.