Professor Silke Paulmann

Department of Psychology
Professor Silke Paulmann



Silke Paulmann studied English Linguistics, American Literature and Media at the Universities of Paderborn, Germany, and Groningen, The Netherlands. In 2003, she completed a Masters degree at the University of Paderborn. For the next three years she worked on her PhD thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. She obtained her PhD in Cognitive Sciences from the University of Potsdam in 2006 (Thesis title: Electrophysiological Evidence on the Processing of Emotional Prosody: Insights from Healthy and Patient Populations). Silke then held a position at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig as a postdoctoral research fellow and, in 2007, received a postdoctoral reseearch fellowship award by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). This allowed her to join the Neuropgragmatics and Emotion Lab at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She joined our Department in September 2009.


  • PhD University of Potsdam/Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, (2006)


University of Essex

  • Director of Research, Psychology, University of Essex (1/1/2018 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Social language processing in normal and special populations (e.g., bilinguals, brain damaged, aging)

Open to supervise

Emotional and attitudinal language processing across different cultures

Open to supervise

Motivational prosody processing

Open to supervise

Event-related brain potentials

Open to supervise

Current research

Broadly speaking, Silke is exploring the way we communicate emotions and attitudes via speech. This includes both the perception and production side. Currently, Silke is running studies to investigate the cognitive architecture underlying emotional and attitudinal language processing in young and healthy aging adults as well as in adults with a history of alcohol abuse. She is also involved in research projects that attempt to answer how vocal emotions are communicated cross-culturally. Finally, some of her recent work also explores in how far socio-psychological variables (e.g. power, motivation) can influence how emotions and attitudes are communicated through the tone of voice.

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • The Social Voice (PS500)

  • Neurocognition of Language (PS935)

Previous supervision

Steven Haworth
Steven Haworth
Thesis title: It's How You Said It and What I Heard: A Comparison of Motivational and Emotional Tone of Voice
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 5/11/2018
Chelsea Harmsworth
Chelsea Harmsworth
Thesis title: Emotional Prosody Communication in Long-Term Dry Alcoholics
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 27/6/2016
Desire Nilsen
Desire Nilsen
Thesis title: The Influence of Individual Difference Variables on Vocal Emotion Processing
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 18/5/2016
Abdullah Abdulrahman A Alasmari
Abdullah Abdulrahman A Alasmari
Thesis title: Language-Switching and Cognitive Control in Arabic-English Bilinguals
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 9/9/2015
Lisa Phillips
Lisa Phillips
Thesis title: Decoding and Encoding of Emotional Prosody in Children
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 20/1/2015
Anna Pavlina Charalambous
Anna Pavlina Charalambous
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 26/6/2013


Journal articles (42)

Paulmann, S., Weinstein, N. and Zougkou, K., (2019). Now Listen to This! Evidence from a Cross-Spliced Experimental Design Contrasting Pressuring and Supportive Communications. Neuropsychologia. 124, 192-201

Furnes, D., Berg, H., Mitchell, RM. and Paulmann, S., (2019). Exploring the Effects of Personality Traits on the Perception of Emotions From Prosody. Frontiers in Psychology. 10 (FEB), 184-

Gerson, S., Weinstein, N., Gattis, M. and Paulmann, S., (2019). Infants Attend Longer to Controlling versus Supportive Directive Speech. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 187, 104654-104654

Weinstein, N., Vansteenkiste, M. and Paulmann, S., (2019). Listen to Your Mother: Motivating Tones of Voice Predict Adolescents’ Reactions to Mothers. Developmental Psychology. 55 (12), 2534-2546

Weinstein, N., Zougkou, K. and Paulmann, S., (2018). You 'Have' to Hear This: Using Tone of Voice to Motivate Others.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 44 (6), 898-913

Garrido-Vásquez, P., Pell, MD., Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2018). Dynamic Facial Expressions Prime the Processing of Emotional Prosody. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 12, 244-

Clahsen, H., Paulmann, S., Budd, MJ. and Barry, C., (2018). Morphological encoding beyond slots and fillers: An ERP study of comparative formation in English. PLoS ONE. 13 (7), e0199897-e0199897

Harmsworth, C. and Paulmann, S., (2018). Emotional Communication in Long-Term Abstained Alcoholics.. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 42 (9), 1715-1724

Paulmann, S. and Uskul, AK., (2017). Early and late brain signatures of emotional prosody among individuals with high versus low power. Psychophysiology. 54 (4), 555-565

Zougkou, K., Weinstein, N. and Paulmann, S., (2017). ERP correlates of motivating voices: quality of motivation and time-course matters. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (10), 1687-1700

Wallace, D., Cooper, NR., Paulmann, S., Fitzgerald, PB. and Russo, R., (2016). Perceived Comfort and Blinding Efficacy in Randomised Sham-Controlled Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Trials at 2 mA in Young and Older Healthy Adults. PLoS ONE. 11 (2), e0149703-e0149703

Paulmann, S., Furnes, D., Bøkenes, AM. and Cozzolino, PJ., (2016). How Psychological Stress Affects Emotional Prosody. PLoS ONE. 11 (11), e0165022-e0165022

Garrido-Vásquez, P., Pell, MD., Paulmann, S., Sehm, B. and Kotz, SA., (2016). Impaired neural processing of dynamic faces in left-onset Parkinson's disease. Neuropsychologia. 82, 123-133

Uskul, AK., Paulmann, S. and Weick, M., (2016). Social power and recognition of emotional prosody: High power is associated with lower recognition accuracy than low power.. Emotion. 16 (1), 11-15

Budd, M-J., Paulmann, S., Barry, C. and Clahsen, H., (2015). Producing morphologically complex words: An ERP study with children and adults. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 12 (1), 51-60

Jiang, X., Paulmann, S., Robin, J. and Pell, MD., (2015). More than accuracy: Nonverbal dialects modulate the time course of vocal emotion recognition across cultures.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 41 (3), 597-612

Pell, MD., Rothermich, K., Liu, P., Paulmann, S., Sethi, S. and Rigoulot, S., (2015). Preferential decoding of emotion from human non-linguistic vocalizations versus speech prosody. Biological Psychology. 111, 14-25

Paulmann, S. and Uskul, AK., (2014). Cross-cultural emotional prosody recognition: Evidence from Chinese and British listeners. Cognition and Emotion. 28 (2), 230-244

Budd, M., Paulmann, S., Barry, C. and Clahsen, H., (2013). Brain potentials during language production in children and adults: An ERP study of the English past tense. Brain and Language. 127 (3), 345-355

Paulmann, S., Bleichner, M. and Kotz, SA., (2013). Valence, arousal, and task effects in emotional prosody processing. Frontiers in Psychology. 4, 345-

Garrido-Vásquez, P., Pell, MD., Paulmann, S., Strecker, K., Schwarz, J. and Kotz, SA., (2013). An ERP study of vocal emotion processing in asymmetric Parkinson’s disease. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 8 (8), 918-927

Paulmann, S., Jessen, S. and Kotz, SA., (2012). It's special the way you say it: An ERP investigation on the temporal dynamics of two types of prosody. Neuropsychologia. 50 (7), 1609-1620

Paulmann, S., Titone, D. and Pell, MD., (2012). How emotional prosody guides your way: Evidence from eye movements. Speech Communication. 54 (1), 92-107

Paulmann, S., Ott, DVM. and Kotz, SA., (2011). Emotional speech perception unfolding in time: the role of the basal ganglia.. PLoS ONE. 6 (3), e17694-e17694

Paulmann, S. and Pell, MD., (2011). Is there an advantage for recognizing multi-modal emotional stimuli?. Motivation and Emotion. 35 (2), 192-201

Kotz, SA. and Paulmann, S., (2011). Emotion, Language, and the Brain. Language and Linguistics Compass. 5 (3), 108-125

Paulmann, S. and Pell, MD., (2010). Contextual influences of emotional speech prosody on face processing: How much is enough?. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience. 10 (2), 230-242

Paulmann, S., Seifert, S. and Kotz, SA., (2010). Orbito-frontal lesions cause impairment during late but not early emotional prosodic processing. Social Neuroscience. 5 (1), 59-75

Paulmann, S. and Pell, MD., (2010). Dynamic emotion processing in Parkinson's disease as a function of channel availability. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. 32 (8), 822-835

Paulmann, S., Pell, MD. and Kotz, SA., (2009). Comparative processing of emotional prosody and semantics following basal ganglia infarcts: ERP evidence of selective impairments for disgust and fear. Brain Research. 1295, 159-169

Paulmann, S. and Pell, MD., (2009). Facial expression decoding as a function of emotional meaning status: ERP evidence. NeuroReport. 20 (18), 1603-1608

Kotz, SA., Jessen, S. and Paulmann, S., (2009). Investigating the Multimodal Nature of Human Communication. Journal of Psychophysiology. 23 (2), 63-76

Pell, MD., Paulmann, S., Dara, C., Alasseri, A. and Kotz, SA., (2009). Factors in the recognition of vocally expressed emotions: A comparison of four languages. Journal of Phonetics. 37 (4), 417-435

Pell, MD., Monetta, L., Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2009). Recognizing Emotions in a Foreign Language. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 33 (2), 107-120

Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2008). An ERP investigation on the temporal dynamics of emotional prosody and emotional semantics in pseudo- and lexical-sentence context. Brain and Language. 105 (1), 59-69

Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2008). Early emotional prosody perception based on different speaker voices. NeuroReport. 19 (2), 209-213

Paulmann, S., Pell, MD. and Kotz, SA., (2008). Functional contributions of the basal ganglia to emotional prosody: Evidence from ERPs. Brain Research. 1217, 171-178

Paulmann, S., Pell, MD. and Kotz, SA., (2008). How aging affects the recognition of emotional speech. Brain and Language. 104 (3), 262-269

Kotz, SA. and Paulmann, S., (2007). When emotional prosody and semantics dance cheek to cheek: ERP evidence. Brain Research. 1151 (1), 107-118

Paulmann, S., Elston-G??ttler, KE., Gunter, TC. and Kotz, SA., (2006). Is bilingual lexical access influenced by language context?. NeuroReport. 17 (7), 727-731

Elston-Güttler, KE., Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2005). Who's in Control? Proficiency and L1 Influence on L2 Processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 17 (10), 1593-1610

Paulmann, S., Pell, MD. and Kotz, SA., (2005). Emotional prosody recognition in BG-patients: Disgust recognition revisited. Brain and Language. 95 (1), 143-144

Book chapters (4)

Paulmann, S., Ghareeb-Ali, Z. and Felser, C., (2015). Neurophysiological markers of phrasal verb processing: evidence from L1 and L2 speakers. In: Bilingual Figurative Language Processing. Editors: Heredia, RR. and Cieślicka, AB., . Cambridge University Press. 245- 267. 9781107609501

Paulmann, S., (2015). The Neurocognition of Prosody. In: Neurobiology of Language. Editors: Hickok, G. and Small, SL., . Elsevier (Academic Press). 1109- 1120. 9780124077942

Kotz, SA., Hasting, AS. and Paulmann, S., (2013). On the orbito-striatal interface in (acoustic) emotional processing. In: Evolution of emotional communication: from sounds in non-human mammals to speech and music in man. Editors: Altenmüller, E., Schmidt, S. and Zimmermann, E., . Oxford University Press. 229- 240. 9780199583560

Kotz, SA., Meyer, M. and Paulmann, S., (2006). Lateralization of emotional prosody in the brain: an overview and synopsis on the impact of study design. In: Understanding Emotions. Editors: Anders, S., Ende, G., Junghofer, M., Kissler, J. and Wildgruber, D., . Elsevier. 285- 294. 978-0-444-52182-8

Conferences (6)

Paulmann, S., Vrijders, B., Weinstein, N. and Vansteenkiste, M., (2018). How parents motivate their children through prosody

Weinstein, N., Zougkou, K. and Paulmann, S., (2014). Differences between the acoustic typology of autonomy-supportive and controlling sentences

Pell, MD., Robin, J. and Paulmann, S., (2012). How quickly do listeners recognize emotional prosody in their native versus a foreign language?

Paulmann, S., Schmidt, P., Pell, M. and Kotz, SA., (2008). Rapid processing of emotional and voice information as evidenced by ERPs

Paulmann, S. and Kotz, SA., (2005). When emotional prosody and semantics interact in time: ERP evidence

Kotz, SA., Paulmann, S. and Raettig, T., (2005). Varying task demands during the perception of emotional content: EFMRI evidence

Grants and funding


Motivational prosody: A new approach to understanding motivational communications

Leverhulme Trust


Exploring Implicit Emotional Prosody Perception

The British Academy

+44 (0) 1206 873422


2.724, Colchester Campus