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Psycholinguistics: Acquisition and Processing

Researcher and child playing with toy at Bing nursery school

At Bing Nursery School

Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Our research aims to develop realistic models of the process of acquisition and of how comprehension and production interact in adult language processing.

Research

The Stanford Department of Linguistics has an energetic community of researchers in psycholinguistics.  Our faculty and students collaborate to investigate the mechanisms and representations that underlie language production and comprehension in children and adults.  Much of our work is highly interdisciplinary, spanning many areas of the cognitive sciences, including the effects of probabilistic information, memory, and attention on language production and comprehension across a variety of languages.  Our research is heavily theory-driven, and is centered on a shared view of language, as used and understood by humans in a social world.

For example, we have ongoing projects in acquisition that investigate timing in turn-taking, the interpretation of presupposition triggers, the production of consonants clusters in English words, the production of complements, and relations between adult verb uses and children’s acquisition of verb forms.  As examples of ongoing projects in adult processing, we investigate the underpinnings of a particular choice among alternatives when there is more than one way to convey the same information; the effects of phonetic variation in speech on the perception, recognition, and representation of spoken words; the processing of literal and non-literal meaning in spoken and written language; and understanding uncertainty in interpretation (vagueness, ambiguity, etc.)

Community

We have a lively psycholinguistics community, with a large number of events that create opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary discourse.  Regular event series such as the Cognition and Language Workshop (sponsored by the Departments of Linguistics and Psychology), the Developmental Brownbag (Department of Psychology), and the Phonetics-Phonology Workshop (Department of Linguistics) include talks from members of our broad community, and also serve as venues for interacting with leading researchers invited from all over the world.