Academic Profile

Non-academic profile: see Other Activities

Contact details

Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Language Acquisition, Processing and Disorders
Utrecht University
Visiting address: Trans 10 | 3512 JK Utrecht | The Netherlands

Research interests

Speech perception and listening comprehension (native and non-native)
Speech and language acquisition (native and non-native)
Neurobiology of speech/language processing
Japanese (and many other languages)
Research and analysis techniques

Short CV

Karin Wanrooij studied Japanese at Leiden University (MA, cum laude) and Kyoto University in Kyoto (Japan) and Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam (MA, cum laude). Her PhD research (supervisors: prof. dr. Paul Boersma and dr. Titia van Zuijen) examined how infants learn to perceive the vowels of their mother tongues and how adults learn to perceive the vowels of a new language. The thesis yielded a nomination for the AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize.

After completing her thesis, Karin was a postdoctoral researcher at the department of Educational Sciences of Leiden University, where she studied how high school pupils cope with reduced pronunciations when trying to understand natural speech in a second language (see “NRO-funded research project” below). In this project, she cooperated with prof. dr. Maartje Raijmakers. At present, Karin investigates early predictors of dyslexia in toddlers’ brain signals at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, together with prof. dr. Frank Wijnen, dr. Hugo Schnack, dr. Ao Chen and dr. Florian Huber of the eScience Center.

Aside from doing research, Karin has taught several courses at different universities, in the areas of phonetics, language acquisition, cognitive development, research methodologies and statistics.

NRO-funded research project (completed 2019)

Karin Wanrooij’s project “The effect of reduced pronunciations on understanding a second language” was financed by the NWO division “the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research” (NRO). Read all information about the project and its results or watch the webvideo’s with the results on the page “Vaardig Verstaan” (in Dutch).

More information in English? Mail:

PhD project (completed 2015)

The PhD project (“Distributional learning of vowel categories in infants and adults”) examined to what extent mere exposure to ambient speech (“distributional learning”) contributes to learning the vowels of a language, both in infancy, when the mother tongue must be acquired, and in adulthood, when new languages can be learned. The results are based on neurophysiological and behavioural experiments, and on an extensive literature review of possible neural correlates. The main conclusions are that (1) distributional learning can contribute to the acquisition of native vowel categories in infancy, (2) the capacity for distributional learning is larger in infancy than in adulthood, and (3) observed effects of distributional training in the lab may not be based on the number of peaks in the training distributions. The thesis can be downloaded here.

This research was part of Paul Boersma’s NWO-funded Vici-project “Emergent Categories and Connections“. It was also part of the ‘Hoe Leren Baby’s ( How Do Babies Learn ) project’ at the University of Amsterdam. In this project the departments of Developmental Psychology and Phonetic Sciences cooperate to study the cognitive and linguistic development of babies.


  • NRO-funded research highlighted in KIJK (nr. 10, 2019)
  • Dissertation highlighted online on the website of Van Dale
    (column Sterre Leufkens; in Dutch; March 18, 2016)
  • Dissertation highlighted in Spui (nr. 42 page 17; in Dutch; June 2015)
  • Dissertation highlighted in the Noordhollands Dagblad (page 16; in Dutch; May 1, 2015)
  • Dissertation highlighted in the blog “De Taalpassie van Milfje” (in Dutch; April 29, 2015)
  • Dissertation highlighted in Folia (nr. 27 page 41; in Dutch;  April 22, 2015)
  • Dissertation highlighted in UvA News (in Dutch; April 9, 2015).
  • Interview in Newsletter 169 of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam (final page of the newsletter; in Dutch).
  • Interview in Radio Swammerdam (in Dutch; June 22, 2014)