Professor Denis Burnham
Room no: 1.G.133
Building: 1
Campus: UWS Bankstown (Bullecourt Ave, Milperra)
Phone no.: +61 2 9772 6681

Research Program Leader: Speech and Language


During PhD and a junior faculty position at Monash (1975-1981) and then later at UNSW (1981-1999), I researched infant perceptual development. I rode the exciting new wave of infant visual perception research in the 1970s and then was one of the first Australian punks in the 1980s to jump onto the equally, if not more, exciting newer wave of infant speech perception.

From the mid-80s and throughout the 90s I embraced cross-disciplinary research, working with experimental phoneticians and speech scientists, and in the late 80s I added the use non-English languages (Thai and then many others) as an tool in order to probe speech perception development not only over ontogeny but also as a product of the mini-laboratories (called  languages) so conveniently set up to allow natural manipulation of perceptual input.

After my appointment as inaugural Director of MARCS at UWS in 1999, my research focus on experiential and inherited influences in speech and language development continued to develop in – infant speech perception; auditory-visual (AV) speech perception; special speech registers, including ,infant-, pet-, foreigner-, computer-, and lover-directed speech; captions for the hearing impaired; tone languages – lexical tone perception, tone perception with cochlear implants, and speech-music interactions; human-machine interaction; speech corpus studies; and the role of infants’ perceptual experience and expertise, in literacy development.

So too have my collaborations developed – with phoneticians, linguists, engineers, clinicians, computer scientists, music cognition researchers, creative artists, and neuroscientists, with the result of many emergent issues, paradigms, results, and friendships.  

Research Interests 

Qualifications and Honours

  • Shell Prize in Arts, University of New England (UNE), 1973

  • BA (Hons1, Psychology), University Medal, APS Prize in Psychology, UNE, 1974

  • PhD (The perception of moving objects by infants and the development of the object concept, Supervisor: Professor R. H. Day, Monash University (1980)

  • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, UNSW, 1981-1999


  • Inaugural Director, MARCS Auditory Laboratories (1999); MARCS Institute (2012)

  • Research Program Leader, Speech and Language Program

  • President, Australian Speech Science & Technology Association (ASSTA, 2002 - )

  • Co-founder, Auditory-Visual Speech Perception Association (AVISA, 1997)

  • Member, International Advisory Council (IAC) of International Speech Communication Association (ISCA)

Burnham, D.
Biblio Editor: 



  • Xu Rattanasone, N., Attina, V., Kasisopa, B., & Burnham, D. (2014). How to compare tones, South and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics 233-246.
  • Lee, C., Kitamura, C., Burnham, D., & Todd, N. (2014). On the rhythm of infant- versus adult-directed speech in Australian English, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136 (1), 357-365. doi:10.1121/1.4883479


  • Vlismas, W., Malloch, S., & Burnham, D. (2013). The effects of music and movement on mother-infant interaction, Early Child Development and Care, 183 (11), 1669-1688. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.746968
  • Xu Rattanasone, N., Burnham, D., & Reilly, R. (2013). Tone and vowel enhancement in Cantonese infant-directed speech at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age, Journal of Phonetics, 41 (5), 332-343. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2013.06.001
  • Burnham, D., Luksaneeyanawin, S., Kantamphan, S., & Reid, A. (2013). Phonics vs. whole-word instruction in a tone language, Written Language and Literacy, 16 (1), 60-76. doi:10.1075/wll.16.1.03bur
  • Kasisopa, B., Reilly, R., Luksaneeyanawin, S., & Burnham, D. (2013). Eye movements while reading an unspaced writing system: The case of Thai, Vision Research, 86, 71-80. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2013.04.007
  • Xu, N., Burnham, D., Kitamura, C., & Vollmer-Conna, U. (2013). Vowel hyperarticulation in parrot-, dog- and infant-directed speech, Anthrozoos, 26 (3), 373-380. doi:10.2752/175303713X13697429463592
  • Erdener, D., & Burnham, D. (2013). The relationship between auditory-visual speech perception and language-specific speech perception at the onset of reading instruction in English-speaking children, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116 (2), 120-138. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2013.03.003


  • Smith, D., & Burnham, D. (2012). Facilitation of Mandarin tone perception by visual speech in clear and degraded audio: Implications for cochlear implants, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131 (2), 1480–1489. doi:10.1121/1.3672703
  • Horlyck, S., Reid, A., & Burnham, D. (2012). The relationship between learning to read and language-specific speech perception: Maturation versus experience, Scientific Studies of Reading, 16 (3), 218–239. doi:10.1080/10888438.2010.546460
  • Burnham, D., Sekiyama, K., Bailly, G., Perrier, P., & Vatikiotis-Bateson, E. (2012). Investigating auditory-visual speech perception development, Audiovisual Speech Processing 62-75.
  • McBride-Chang, C., Chen, H. - C., Kasisopa, B., Burnham, D., Reilly, R., & Leppanen, P. (2012). What and where is the word? (An Open Peer Commentary on 'Towards a universal model of reading' by Ram Frost), Behavioral and Brain Sciences, August (2012), 33-34. doi:10.1017/S0140525X1200009X: Cambridge Journals
  • Malloch, S., Shoemark, H., Crncec, R., Newnham, C., Paul, C., Prior, M., et al. (2012). Music therapy with hospitalized infants - The art and science of communicative musicality, Infant Mental Health Journal, 33 (4), 386-399. doi:10.1002/imhj.21346


  • Burnham, D., Kim, J., Davis, C., Ciocca, V., Schoknecht, C., & Kasisopa, B. (2011). Are tones phones?, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 693–712. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2010.07.008
  • Tillmann, B., Burnham, D., Nguyen, S., Grimault, N., & Peretz, I. (2011). Congenital amusia (or tone-deafness) interferes with pitch processing in tone languages, Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, 2 (120), 1–15. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00120
  • Hansen, S., Schoknecht, C., Healey, S., Stevens, C. J., Chen, J., Schubert, E., et al. (2011). Response to dance using PDAs that record continuous data during live performance, Human communication sciences: A compendium 547–572., Sydney: ARC Research Network in Human Communication Science


  • Burnham, D., Mattock, K., Bremmer, J. G., & Wachs, T. D. (2010). Auditory Development, The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of infant development 81–119.: Wiley Blackwell
  • Burnham, D., Tam, H., Goldfried, J., Green, D., Brown, H., Varley, A., et al. (2010). Who uses television captions, when, and why? Analyses based on the Australian Television Caption Users Survey, Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing, 13, 135–144.
  • Horley, K., Reid, A., & Burnham, D. (2010). Emotional prosody perception and production in dementia of the Alzheimer's type, Journal of speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53, 1132–1146. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0030)

Full Publications

For a full listing of my publications please see my personal publications page.

© University of Western Sydney 2015