Successful language processing requires speaker and hearers to dynamically create richly structured representations, within a few hundred milliseconds of encountering each new word. Our group asks how this feat is achieved, whether it is achieved in the same fashion across languages with varying word order and morphological markers, what are the possible neural encoding mechanisms for richly structured information, and how the dynamics of language processing differ in adult native speakers, child and adult language learners, or in atypical learners.
Some distinctive features of the Maryland group include its expertise in cross-language research (e.g., recent studies on Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Basque, Russian, American Sign Language, and Spanish); its use of diverse tools to investigate language-related processes (reading time, eye-movement measures, EEG and MEG measures of millisecond-grain brain activity, and fMRI measures of brain localization); and its work involving neuro-computational modeling of language processing and studies of developmental and atypical populations. The rich network of connections between investigators make it feasible to try to seamlessly align insights from formal grammars with findings from psycho/neurolinguistics and computational neuroscience, often in ways that we could not have imagined a few years ago.
Research in psycholinguistics at Maryland is not pursued as a separate enterprise, but rather is closely integrated into all research areas of the department and the broader language science community. Weekly research group meetings primarily feature student presentations of in-progress research and typically attract 20-30 people.