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

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 and the neural mechanisms underlying it. I use a wide range of behavioral and neurophysiological techniques towards this end, including ERPs, MEG, and fMRI. Although I am broadly interested in lexical-conceptual access and semantic/syntactic/discourse structure building, much of my work examines these questions through the lens of prediction, by looking at how readers and listeners use their knowledge of the language to build expectations about the upcoming input.

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!

Collaborators
Students - Wing Yee Chow (LING PhD 2013, now at BCBL), Sol Lago (LING PhD 2014), Zoe Schlueter (LING PhD 2017), Dan Parker (LING PhD 2014), Alvin Grissom (ISchool - IGERT), Mike McCourt (PHIL - IGERT), Eric Pelzl (SLA - IGERT), Anna Namyst (RA/Lab Manager 2014), Elizabeth Nguyen (MEG lab manager 2012-2014), Alek Fazlipour (Baggett 2014), Natalia Lapinskaya (Baggett 2014), Allison Fogel (RA 2013, now at Tufts), Tania Delgado (RA 2013, now at Edinburgh), Lawrence Chen (Baggett 2013, now at McGill), Diego Martinez (part-time research assistant), Amina Iro (Eleanor Roosevelt intern), Uchenna Uzomah (Eleanor Roosevelt intern)
Profs - Ming Xiang, Akira Omaki, Alexander Williams, Colin Phillips, Bill Idsardi, Gina Kuperberg, Phil Holcomb, Matti Hamalainen, Alexandre Gramfort, Suiping Wang


Research Papers
Chow, W-Y., Lau, E.F., Wang, S. & Phillips, C. (in revision) Electrical brain potentials reveal temporal dynamics of word prediction during language comprehension.
Omaki, A., Lau, E.F., Davidson White, I., & Phillips, C. (in revision). Hyper-active gap filling: Pre-verbal object gap creation in English filler-gap dependency processing.
Lago, S., Shalom, D., Sigman, M., Lau, E., Phillips, C. (in revision). Agreement processes in Spanish comprehension.

Lau, E.F., Weber, K., Gramfort, A., Hamalainen, M., & Kuperberg, G. (in press). Spatiotemporal signatures of lexical-semantic prediction. Cerebral Cortex.
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.
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

Recent Conference Presentations
Lau E & Namyst A. Dissociating neural effects of predictability and incongruity in adjective-noun phrases. 27th Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference.
McCourt M, Fazlipour A, Lau E, Williams A. Implicit agents in short passives and remote control of reason clauses. 27th Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference.
Chow W-Y, MacMillan G, Shah S, Kurenkov I, Lau E, Phillips C. Partial use of available information in the early stages of verb prediction. 27th Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference.
Lago S, Shalom D, Sigman M, Lau E, Phillips C. Yo pienso, tu piensas, él piensa: Crosslinguistic agreement effects in comprehension. 27th 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, Gramfort A, Weber K, Delaney-Busch N, Fields E, Ustine C, Fanucci K, Holcomb P, Hamalainen M, Kuperberg G. Localizing N400 effects of predictive facilitation with EEG-MEG and fMRI. Annual MIT McGovern Institute Symposium, 2012. pdf

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