Ellen Lau
Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland
1401 Marie Mount Hall
College Park, MD 20742

email: ellenlau (at) umd.edu
office: 3416 Marie Mount Hall

research   courses   cv   personal 

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland and Co-Director of the KIT-Maryland MEG Lab. My research is aimed at linking what we know about language to what we know about the brain, with the goal of developing better models of language processing, representation, and the neural mechanisms underlying both. I use a wide range of behavioral and neurophysiological techniques towards this end, including ERPs, MEG, and fMRI. I am broadly interested in lexical/conceptual access and semantic/syntactic/discourse structure building, and a large strand of my work examines how readers and listeners use their knowledge of the language to access and construct these representations predictively.

I am fortunate enough to conduct my research in collaboration with a wonderful bunch of students and faculty in the Linguistics department and across the Maryland Language Science community, one of the largest and most vibrant groups of language scientists in the world!

I do not link to a 'lab' page here because in LING we take a more socialistic approach that makes it hard to draw boundaries like that : ) I work with a number of faculty and students within the Linguistics department and across the Language Science Center (LSC) and the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program (NACS), and for illustration I try to keep a rough running tally of them below. We have a shared lab meeting on Fridays at noon in which all kinds of experimental work from the department is presented. And we have excellent facilities for conducting cognitive neuroscience research: a 32-channel Neuroscan EEG lab located in the department (which I co-manage with Colin Phillips), a 157-axial-gradiometer KIT MEG system located in a very magnetically quiet lab at the Maryland Neuroimaging Center on campus (which I co-manage with Jonathan Simons), and a 3T MRI scanner also located at the MNC.

Students - Chia-Hsuan Liao (LING PhD 2020), Zoe Schlueter (LING PhD 2017), Sol Lago (LING PhD 2014), Wing Yee Chow (LING PhD 2013, now at BCBL), Shota Momma (LING), Chris Neufeld (LING), Mike McCourt (PHIL - IGERT), Eric Pelzl (SLA - IGERT), Mina Herzel (Baggett Fellow 2015-16), Anna Namyst (RA/Lab Manager 2014-16), Natalia Lapinskaya (Baggett 2013-14, MEG lab manager 2014-16), Elizabeth Nguyen (MEG lab manager 2012-14), Allison Fogel (RA 2013, now at Tufts), Lawrence Chen (Baggett 2013, now at McGill), Amina Iro (Eleanor Roosevelt intern), Uchenna Uzomah (Eleanor Roosevelt intern)
Postdocs - William Matchin (LING postdoc 2014- )
Profs - Ming Xiang, Akira Omaki, Alexander Williams, Colin Phillips, Jeff Lidz, Bill Idsardi, Gina Kuperberg, Phil Holcomb, Matti Hamalainen, Alexandre Gramfort, Suiping Wang

Research Papers
Matchin, W., Hammerly, C., & Lau, E. (submitted). The role of the IFG and pSTS in syntactic prediction: evidence from a parametric study of hierarchical structure in fMRI. pdf
Lau, E., Namyst, A., Fogel, A., Delgado, T. (submitted). A direct comparison of N400 effects of predictability and incongruity in adjective-noun combination. pdf
Barrios, S., Namyst, A., Lau, E., Feldman, N., Idsardi, W. (submitted). Establishing new mappings between familiar phones: Neural and behavioral evidence for early automatic processing of nonnative contrasts.
Lago, S., Sloggett, S., Schlueter, Z., Chow, W-Y., Williams, A., Lau, E., & Phillips, C. (submitted). Coreference and antecedent representation across languages. pdf
Neufeld, C., Kramer, S., Lapinskaya, N., Heffner, C., Malko, A., & Lau, E. (submitted). The electrophysiology of simple phrase building. pdf
Chow, W-Y., Lau, E.F., Wang, S. & Phillips, C. (submitted). Electrical brain potentials reveal temporal dynamics of word prediction during language comprehension. pdf

Weber, K., Lau, E.F., Stillerman, B., Kuperberg, G.R. (in press). The Yin and the Yang of Prediction: an fMRI study of lexico-semantic predictive processing.
Chow, W-Y., Momma, S., Smith, C., Lau, E. & Phillips, C. (in press). Prediction as Memory Retrieval: Timing and Mechanisms Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience.
McCourt, M., Green, J., Lau, E., & Williams, A. (2015). Processing implicit control: evidence from reading times. Frontiers in Psychology. pdf
Chow, W-Y., Smith, C., Lau, E. & Phillips, C. (2015). A 'bag-of-arguments' mechanism for initial verb predictions. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience. pdf
Lau, E.F. & Nguyen, E.T. (2015). The role of temporal predictability in semantic expectation: An MEG investigation. Cortex. pdf
Lago, S., Shalom, D., Sigman, M., Lau, E., Phillips, C. (2015). Agreement processes in Spanish comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language. pdf
Omaki, A., Lau, E.F., Davidson White, I., Dakan, M., Apple, A., & Phillips, C. (2015). Hyper-active gap filling. Frontiers in Psychology. pdf
Lau, E.F., Weber, K., Gramfort, A., Hamalainen, M., & Kuperberg, G. (2014). Spatiotemporal signatures of lexical-semantic prediction. Cerebral Cortex. pdf
Chow, W-Y., Lago, S., Barrios, S., Parker, D., Morini, G. & Lau, E. (2014) Additive effects of repetition and predictability during comprehension: Evidence from event-related potentials. PLoS One. pdf
Lau, E.F., Gramfort, A., Hamalainen, M., & Kuperberg, G. (2013). Automatic semantic facilitation in anterior temporal cortex revealed through multimodal neuroimaging. Journal of Neuroscience. pdf
Lau, E.F., Holcomb, P.J., & Kuperberg, G.R. (2013). Dissociating N400 effects of prediction from association in single word contexts. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. pdf
Lau, E.F., Almeida, D., Hines, P., Poeppel, D. (2009). A lexical basis for context effects: evidence from the N400. Brain and Language. pdf
Wagers, M.W., Lau, E.F., & Phillips, C. (2009). Agreement attraction in comprehension: representations and processes. Journal of Memory and Language. pdf
Lau, E.F., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. (2008). A cortical network for semantics: (de)constructing the N400. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. pdf
Lau, E.F., Rozanova, K., & Phillips, C. (2007). Syntactic prediction and lexical frequency effects in sentence processing. University of Maryland Working Papers. pdf
Kazanina, N., Lau, E.F., Lieberman, M., Phillips, C., & Yoshida, M. (2007). Effect of syntactic constraints on long-distance dependency formation in backwards anaphora processing. Journal of Memory and Language. pdf
Lau, E. F., Stroud, C., Plesch, S., & Phillips, C. (2006). The role of prediction in rapid syntactic analysis. Brain & Language. pdf
Resnik, P., Elkiss, A., Lau, E., & Taylor, H. (2005). The Web in Theoretical Linguistics Research: Two Case Studies Using the Linguist's Search Engine. Proceedings of the 31st Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, February 2005. pdf
Lau, E.F. & Ferreira, F. (2005). Lingering effects of disfluent material on the comprehension of garden path sentences. Language and Cognitive Processes. pdf
Ferreira, F., Lau, E. F., & Bailey, K. G. D. (2004). Disfluencies, Language Comprehension, and Tree Adjoining Grammars. Cognitive Science. pdf

Chapters and Reviews
Sprouse, J. & Lau, E.F. (2013). Syntax and the Brain. The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax. Cambridge University Press, UK.
Monahan, P., Lau, E., & Idsardi, W. (2013). Computational Primitives in Phonology and their Neural Correlates. Handbook of Biolinguistics, Cambridge University Press, UK.
Phillips, C. & Lau, E. (2004). Foundational Issues (review article for R. Jackendoff's Foundations of Language). Journal of Linguistics. pdf

Conference Presentations (not yet in ms form)
Pelzl E, DeKeyser R, Lau E, Phillips C. The Acquisition of Lexical Tone by Advanced Second Language Learners. Second Language Research Forum, 2015.
Matchin W, Hammerly C, Lau E. A parametric study of hierarchical structure building in fMRI and MEG. Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, 2015.
Lapinskaya N, Uzomah U, Bedny M, Lau E. Dissociating neural effects of semantic and syntactic category on lexical processing. Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, 2015.
Lau E, O'Rourke P, Namyst A, Darwish S, Dawson T. The impact of timing on lexical-semantic prediction in L1 and L2. Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, 2015.
Schlueter Z, Williams A, Lau E. How quickly is Definiteness Information incorporated into Comprehender Expectations? 28th Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference.
Lago S, Namyst A, Lau E. N400 semantic expectation effects provide evidence for rapid pronoun resolution. 28th Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference.
Lau E, Weber K, Delaney-Busch N, Ustine C, Fanucci K, Hamalainen M, Kuperberg G. Contextual prediction in schizophrenia: Multimodal imaging evidence from a semantic priming paradigm. Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, 2012. pdf

Lau, E. The predictive nature of language comprehension. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Maryland. Chaired by Colin Phillips.