Snedeker Lab Members
Department of Psychology
33 Kirkland St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Second year PhD student
Language is a complex system of concrete percepts (i.e., the speech stream) and abstract representations (e.g., semantics, syntax, phonology, pragmatics). I am particularly interested in characterizing the semantic and syntactic representations of language, including how they’re structured, the mappings between them, and how these mappings get formed over the course of language acquisition and conceptual development.
A unique property of the human mind is that it is capable of creating and acquiring languages. All groups of people have symbolic systems capable of expressing complex events and beliefs about the words, their past experiences, and their future aspirations. No other animal has a communication system with the scope and complexity of human languages, and no other animal can acquire such as system as readily as we do. What properties of the human mind give rise to language? How does the structure of language reflect the structure of the mind? What role do social interactions play in the emergence of language? I explore these questions by studying an emerging language, Nicaraguan Sign Language. I also look at parallel questions using language creation paradigms with children and adults in the laboratory.
Every sentence that we hear and understand requires us to integrate information from a wide variety of sources: from the words, the grammar, the intonation, the context, etc. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that make this possible and their development across the lifespan by studying online sentence processing. My current work focuses on the role of executive functioning in online ambiguity resolution.
Fifth year PhD student
I’m a PhD student in the linguistics department doing my dissertation research in the Snedeker Lab (Jesse is my dissertation advisor and Gennaro Chierchia is my main committee member in linguistics). My interests are in semantics, the semantics-pragmatics interface, scalar implicature, the effect of speaker-specific attributes on scalar implicature computation, and the role of working memory in pragmatic processes.
Fifth year PhD student
My research interests in linguistics are in semantics and its interfaces with syntax and pragmatics. As a cognitive scientist, I’m also interested in how language interacts with other cognitive domains including social, event and numerical cognition, as well as domain-general processes. In my experimental work, I use eye-tracking and other methodologies from cognitive and developmental psychology to study online language comprehension in adults and children. My dissertation explores the linguistic and psychological underpinnings of alternatives (i.e., possibilities) and scalar phenomena as manifested in natural language.
My research focuses on the relationships between cognitive development and language acquisition, asking how pre- or non-linguistic concepts like causation, agency and physical space are mapped to language. Much of my developmental work focuses on how young children make inferences about the exact meaning of a novel verb (in a familiar sentence structure), in contexts where we know something about how they interpret the particular events shown. I also do both behavioral and imaging work with adults to understand how these conceptual structures are implemented once children have successfully learned the structures and mappings of their native language. The ultimate goal is to understand how how we are able to move structured models of the world into language, in such a way that a listener can ‘decode’ the language they hear to recover just the right cognitive models themselves.
I am a visiting scholar from China. My research interests mainly focus on reading comprehension and spoken language comprehension. I am interested in using online measures such as eye tracking and ERPs to explore word identification during reading and the role of prosody on speech perception. My previous studies examined lexical ambiguity resolution and word identification during sentence reading. Besides, I examine early cortical processing of Mandarin tones and intonation indexed by mismatch negativity. Currently, I am particularly interested in the language processing of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders.