“The goal of my research is to understand how the auditory brain develops and how we can use this information to optimize hearing and communication for all individuals. It is a true privilege to work in a community where families actively contribute to the advancement of science and clinical practice through their participation in research. My research is only possible because of our dedicated participants.”


Bonnie K. Lau, Ph.D., joined the department as a research assistant professor in 2020. Dr. Lau completed her doctoral degree at the University of Washington where she studied the development of the human auditory system under the mentorship of Dr. Lynne Werner. She continued on to the University of Minnesota to obtain further training in psychoacoustics and electroencephalography (EEG) under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Oxenham. She then returned to the Institute of Language and Brain Sciences in Seattle to explore ways of combining neurophysiological measures such as EEG, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and pupillometry to compliment behavioral data under the mentorship of Drs. Adrian KC Lee, Samu Taulu, and Patricia Kuhl. During this time, Dr. Lau also worked closely with Drs. Stephen Dager and Annette Estes and the UW Autism Center to investigate auditory processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

In 2017, Dr. Lau received a National Institute of Health Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) to conduct a longitudinal study investigating how the cortical processing of speech develops over the first year of life in normal hearing and hard-of-hearing infants using MEG and standardized clinical measures of development.

Prior to her research training, Dr. Lau obtained an undergraduate degree in linguistics and speech science followed by clinical training in speech-language pathology. Dr. Lau has spent time working as a speech-language pathologist in pediatric hospitals in the United States and Canada as well as Uganda, Swaziland, and Bolivia – experiences that have shaped both her clinical and research interests. In her spare time, Dr. Lau enjoys snowboarding and rock climbing.


Undergraduate Education: University of British Columbia, 2004

Graduate Education:
Northwestern University, M.A., Speech-Language Pathology, 2006;
  University of Washington, Ph.D., Speech and Hearing Science, 2014

Fellowship: University of Minnesota, 2014-2015; UW Institute for Language and Brain Sciences, 2015-2020

Professional Certification: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Speech and Audiology Canada

Memberships: Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Acoustical Society of America

Awards and honors 

NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

Academic interests 


Hearing loss, cochlear implants, early intervention, autism spectrum disorder 


Dr. Lau’s research combines brain and behavioral measures to investigate the relationship between how hearing develops and how language is acquired. One goal of her research is to develop objective measures that can be used in clinical practice to help better identify children who are at risk for language learning difficulties and to guide the personalization of treatment for each individual child.


Laboratory for Auditory Neuroscience and Development 

Recent Publications

Lau BK, Oxenham AJ, Werner LA. Infant Pitch and Timbre Discrimination in the Presence of Variation in the Other Dimension., J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 2021 12; 22(6):693-702

Emmons KA, Kc Lee A, Estes A, Dager S, Larson E, McCloy DR, St John T, Lau BK. Auditory Attention Deployment in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder., J Autism Dev Disord 2022 Apr; 52(4):1752-1761

Lau BK, Mehta AH, Oxenham AJ. Superoptimal Perceptual Integration Suggests a Place-Based Representation of Pitch at High Frequencies., J Neurosci 2017 09; 37(37):9013-9021

McCloy DR, Lau BK, Larson E, Pratt KAI, Lee AKC. Pupillometry shows the effort of auditory attention switching., J Acoust Soc Am 2017 04; 141(4):2440

Lau BK, Lalonde K, Oster MM, Werner LA. Infant pitch perception: Missing fundamental melody discrimination., J Acoust Soc Am 2017 01; 141(1):65