Tag Archives: Psycholinguistics/Cognition
Introduction to Psycholinguistics

Matt Traxler – University of California, Davis
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

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Language scientists attempt to answer three fundamental questions:  1. What does one know when one knows a language?  2. How does an individual access and use that knowledge when producing or understanding language?  3. How did we get this way?  This course will focus on the first two of these three questions.  Students will gain an appreciation for the kinds of theories that language scientists have developed to answer these questions as well as the research methods used to investigate them.  The course will focus chiefly on comprehension issues, but we will also examine contemporary theories of speech production, such as Levelt and Roelof’s Weaver ++ and Dell’s interactive account.

Students will review contemporary accounts of lexical, syntactic, and discourse processing.  This review includes both accounts of normal language function but also the sequelae of brain damage and other forms of language dysfunction. Topics relating to lexical processing include theories of semantic representation, lexical access, and the neural basis of lexical representation and processing. Topics relating to syntactic processing include accounts of syntactic parsing, serial versus parallel processing approaches, and processing of unbounded dependencies. Topics relating to discourse processing include contemporary accounts of discourse representation, inferencing, and the neural basis of discourse processing and representations.


Speech Perception

Pam Beddor – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm

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This course introduces students to the basic principles and theories of speech perception.  We will take a hands-on approach, conducting small-scale experiments to illustrate classic phenomena and test selected theoretical claims.

In a very broad sense, much of the research in the roughly 60-year history of experimental speech perception investigates how listeners map the input acoustic signal onto phonological units. Determining the nature of the mapping is a complex issue because the acoustic signal is highly variable, yet perception remains nearly constant across many types of variation. Some theoretical approaches to speech perception postulate that invariant properties in the input signal underlie perceptual constancy. Other approaches do not assume invariants but either require principles that account for the necessarily more complex mapping between signal and phonological representation, or require more complex representations. As a result, theoretical approaches differ in their assumptions concerning the relevant phonological units (features, gestures, segments, words) and the structure of these units (e.g., abstract representations, stored memory traces of auditory experiences). These issues will serve as our overarching framework. However, in addressing them we will also consider: What initial perceptual capabilities do infants have, what is the nature of our perceptual experiences, and how do these determine perceptual learning? How do listeners weight multiple sources of information, and integrate these cues into a coherent linguistic percept? How might cue weighting serve as an impetus for sound change? How do social categories and phonetic categories interact in perception?

Some background in acoustic phonetics is recommended for this course.

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