My research interests include auditory perception in different domains (e.g., language and music), language acquisition in both L1 and L2, and atypical development in childhood.

In my PhD, I studied how different popluations perceive pitch in language and music, and how native tone lanugage listeners build up phonological knowledge of the lexical tones. Since my PhD, I've worked extensively with infants. My expertise includes various infant research methods, from behavioral measurements to EEG, and parental surveys. 

I work in Utrecht University Dynamics of Youth project Early Prediction of Dyslexia: Machine Learing in Infant Data. Together with Dr. Hugo Schnack in Utrecht Medical Center (UMC) and Prof. Dr. Frank Wijnen, we try to develop early diagnosis tools for dyslexia. 


Adult and infant behavioral experiments (from design to analysis)

Adult and infant EEG measurement and analysis

Large-scale parental survey design, storage, digitalization and analysis

Machine learning

Matlab programming.

Strategic themes / Focus areas
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF



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All publications
  2018 - Articles
Chen, Ao, Peter, Varghese, Wijnen, Frank, Schnack, Hugo & Burnham, Denis (01.05.2018). Are lexical tones musical? Native language's influence on neural response to pitch in different domains. Brain and Language, 180-182, (pp. 31-41) (11 p.).
  2017 - Articles
Chen, Ao, Wijnen, Frank, Koster, Charlotte & Schnack, Hugo (21.02.2017). Individualized early prediction of familial risk of dyslexia - A study of infant vocabulary development. Frontiers in Psychology, 8 (13 p.).
Liu, L., Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2017). Perception of tones in Mandarin and Dutch adult listeners. Language and Linguistics, 18 (4), (pp. 622-646) (25 p.).
Chen, A., Stevens, Catherine & Kager, R.W.J. (09.03.2017). Pitch perception in the first year of life: A comparison of lexical tones and musical pitch. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
  2016 - Articles
Chen, A., Liu, L. & Kager, R.W.J. (25.04.2016). Cross-domain correlation in pitch perception, the influence of native language. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31 (6), (pp. 751-760) (10 p.).
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2016). Discrimination of lexical tones in the first year of life. Infant and Child Development, 25 (5), (pp. 426-439) (14 p.).
Roncaglia-Denissen, M.Paula, Roor, Drikus, Chen, A. & Sadakata, Makiko (2016). Mastering languages with different rhythmic properties enhances musical rhythm perception. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10.
  2015 - Articles
Chen, A., Peter, Varghese & Burnham, Denis (18.12.2015). Auditory ERP response to successive stimuli in infancy. PeerJ
Chen, Ao, Liu, Liquan & Kager, René (2015). Cross-linguistic perception of Mandarin tone sandhi. Language Sciences, 48, (pp. 62-69).
  2014 - Articles in volumes / proceedings
Chen, Ao, Chen, Aoju, Kager, René & Wong, Patrick (2014). Rises and Falls in Dutch and Mandarin Chinese. In C. Gussenhoven, Y. Chen & D. Dediu (Eds.), TAL-2014 - The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, May 13-16, 2014 (pp. 83-86). ISCA Archive.
Hoffmann, Christian, Sadakata, Makiko, Chen, Ao, Desain, Peter & McQueen, James (2014). Within-category variance and and lexical tone discrimination in native and non-native speakers. TAL 2014 (pp. 45-48).
  2013 - Articles in volumes / proceedings
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2013). Cross‐domain perception of pitch in early infancy. In S Baiz, N Goldman & R Hawkes (Eds.), BUCLD 37: Proceedings of the 37th Annual Boston University Conference in Language Development (pp. 49-61) (13 p.). Somerville: Cascadilla Press.
  2013 - Doctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)
  2012 - Articles in volumes / proceedings
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2012). Domain specificity of lexical tone perception in early infancy - Lexical tones versus musical tones. TAL 2012 - The Third International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages International Speech Communication Association.
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2012). Lexical tone perception in early infancy. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2012 (pp. 230-233) (4 p.). Nanjing.
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2012). Universals and Uniqueness in lexical tone perception. Proceedings of Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics 2011 (pp. 55-70) (16 p.).
  2011 - Articles in volumes / proceedings
Chen, Ao & Kager, R.W.J. (2011). The perception of lexical tones and tone sandhi in L2: Success or failure?. In W.S. Lee & E. Zee (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences ICPhS XVII 2011 (pp. 444-447) (4 p.). Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong.
Chen, A. & Kager, R.W.J. (2011). Universals and uniqueness in lexical tone perception. The Proceedings of the Twelfth Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics (TCP2011) (pp. 55-64). Tokyo: Sheep Shobo.
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Completed projects

Prediction of Dyslexia in Infants Using Machine-learning (PODIUM) 01.03.2014 to 30.04.2016
General project description

The current project will use machine learning techniques to explore if data on speech processing in infancy can predict the occurrence of later literacy difficulties in individual children. We perform a proof of principle study on existing vocabulary and speech discrimination data from infants at risk of DD and low-risk controls. 

Role Researcher Funding
Utrecht University: Dynamics of Youth
Project members UU
External project members:
  • Dr. Hugo Schnack
Cross-domain perception of pitch in infancy, an EEG study 20.10.2014 to 20.04.2015
General project description

This project examines how infants perceive pitch in speech and music using EEG method. 4-, 8-, and 12-month-old infants' brain response to music and speech stimuli are analyzed and compared to adults' response.

Role Project Leader & Researcher Funding
Utrecht University: Australian Department of Education
Project members UU
External project members:
  • Prof. Dr. Denis Burnham
China Exchange Program: The Early Acquisition of Speech Prosody: A comparative study of Dutch and Chinese. 01.01.2011 to 31.12.2014
General project description

The project aims to faciliate collaboration between Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) and Utrecht Institute of Linguistics (Uil OTS). CASS and Uil OTS have worked and are still working together on topics such as lexical tone perception by native versus non-native infants/adults, acquisition of lexical tones, cross-linguistic perception and acquisition of stress, etc. The main focus is how prosody perception develops in infancy. 

Role Researcher Funding
Utrecht University: The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Project members UU
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2010- 2011, block 2. Perception and Production in L2 Acquisition. The course was taught together with Prof. René Kager and Dr. Diana Appousidou.

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Full name
dr. A.O. Chen Contact details
Drift 15

Drift 15
Room 2.01
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 6407
Phone number (department) +31 30 253 6006

Personal email

Flexplek phone: 030-253-6407

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Last updated 29.06.2017