Psycholinguistics I/II - 2021-2022

LING 640/641


This course is a year-long foundation course sequence in psycholinguistics, aimed at graduate students from any language science field. The course assumes no specific background in psycholinguistics, including experimentation or statistics. The first semester course also requires only limited background in formal linguistics. But all students should have a serious commitment to some area of language science, and relevant expertise that they can contribute to the class group.

Psycholinguistics is a broad field. In principle, it includes all areas of the mentalistic study of language, including the various fields of so-called formal/theoretical linguistics, plus language acquisition and the neuroscience of language. And while we’re at it, why not throw in language disorders and second language acquisition for good measure! Due to this breadth, psycholinguistics can sometimes appear like a scientific archipelago – many interesting but disconnected islands. We will make no attempt to tour all of these islands in this course. Instead, we will focus on trying to understand the overall space, how the pieces fit together, and recurring themes and problems. The course will focus on:

  • Understanding the landscape of psycholinguistics
  • Psycholinguistic thinking: finding good questions, evaluating evidence, resolving conflicts
  • Doing psycholinguistics: tools needed to carry out psycholinguistic research

In the Fall semester (LING 640) we will devote a lot of time to ‘model’ problems, such as speech categorization and word recognition, because these relatively simple cases allow us to probe deeply into psycholinguistic issues with limited linguistic overhead.

In the Spring semester (LING 641) we will devote more attention to the relation between the syntax and semantics of sentences and language learning and language processing.

Desperately Seeking ‘Normal’

We thought that things would be back to “normal” by now. No such luck. It is wonderful that we can be together again.

The Fall semester turned out well, but with some surprises. Hopefully this semester will be more predictable. But we should know better than to make confident predictions at this point. 

 We will still need to adapt and be flexible.

 We also need to be mindful of the different situations that we are coming from, and that we will be dealing with.

Location, location, location

In person interaction is SO valuable. We will do everything possible to maintain that. Online interaction is next best. Hybrid is a nut that has yet to be cracked.

One lesson from the Fall semester: masks are less of a barrier than one might have expected. (Here goes with the KN95s!)  


There are promising signs that we may be headed towards a post-pandemic period. How this unfolds in the next 15 weeks is less clear.

 We hope that you will not be sidelined by COVID-19 during this semester. But it could happen. In many cases it has already happened. If you get infected, UMD has extensive guidelines on how that impacts your class participation.

Remember that mental health is an important element of good health, especially for graduate students. Be aware, and seek help if needed. 


A research university thrives on connectivity. We have lost a great deal of that over the past year and a half. This is a time for rebuilding. We have learned a great deal over the course of the pandemic so far about this.

We have seen fewer people. We have had fewer spontaneous encounters. We have had fewer shared experiences. So we have needed to take extra steps to be connected.

One tool that helped us last year was a class Slack channel, created within the “Maryland Psycholinguistics” workspace. It proved to be useful for sharing questions, documents, and class updates. It could be good to do this again.

Individual meetings

 Individual and small group conversations are especially valuable right now. Seek them out!

I am very happy to have individual discussions. Just drop me a line.

I welcome opportunities for in person meetings. I had many outdoor meetings on campus in 2020-2021 and plan to continue in 2021-2022. The UMD campus is beautiful year round, and it is good for graduate students and faculty to be visibly active on campus. (Did you know that the entire campus is an arboretum? — Check out the University of Maryland Arboretum Explorer app.)



Schedule – Spring

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12:00 – 1:30.  1108B Marie Mount Hall.

January 24: Setting the scene

January 26: Structural priming, grammatical models for learning and processing

January 31: 

February 2: 

March 21-25: Spring Break … but possibly with HSP Satellite in College Park

May 9 (Mon): Last day of classes

Schedule – Fall

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12:00 – 1:30. Mostly 1108B Marie Mount Hall … but this may change to facilitate interaction.

August 30: Introduction. The psycholinguistic landscape

September 1: Some core concepts

September 8: Development of Speech Perception

September 13: Development of Speech Perception

September 15:  Becoming a native listener

September 20: Distributional learning

September 22: Learning contrasts

September 27:

September 29: 

October 4: Neuroscience of speech perception and production

October 6: Word recognition

October 11: Active processing

October 13: Recognizing words in context

October 18:

October 20: Neuroscience of word recognition

October 25:

October 27: Word production

November 1:

November 3:

November 8:

November 10:

November 15:

November 17:

November 22:


November 29: 

December 1:

December 6:

December 8:

December 13:




This is graduate school. Your grade should not be your top concern here. You should be aiming to get a top grade, but your focus should be on using the course to develop the skills that will serve you well in your research. There will be no exams for this course. The focus of the course is on reading, discussing, writing and doing throughout the semester, and hence your entire grade will be based upon this.

Grades will be aligned with the values that guide this course: (i) active engagement with the core questions, (ii) thinking and writing clearly, (iii) taking risks and exploring new ideas, (iv) communicating and collaborating with others. 

If you want to get the maximum benefit from this class (i.e. learn lots and have a grade to show for it at the end), you will do the following …

1. Come to class prepared, and participate (40% of grade).

Being prepared means having done some reading and thinking before coming to class. Writing down your initial thoughts or questions about the article(s) is likely to help. Although many readings are listed for this course, you are not expected to read them all from beginning to end. An important skill to develop is the ability to efficiently extract ideas and information from writing. Particpating in class discussions is valuable because it makes you an active learner and greatly increases the likelihood that you will understand and retain the material. You should also feel free to contact me outside of class with questions that you have about the material.

2. Think carefully and write clearly in assignments (60% of grade).

The assignments will come in a variety of formats. In lab assignments you will get hands-on experience with various research techniques in psycholinguistics, plus experience in reporting the results of those experiments. In writing assignments you will think and write about issues raised in class and in the assigned readings. The writing assignment will often be due before the material is discussed in class: this will help you to be better prepared for class and to form your own opinions in advance of class discussion. In your writing it is important to write clearly and provide support for claims that you make.

We will plan to have many shorter writing assignments, typically involving responses to questions about individual readings, for which you will have relatively limited time. These are not intended to be major writing assignments. But they will all be read, and they will contribute to your class grade, following the guiding values of the class.

If you are worried about how you are doing in the course, do not hesitate to contact me. Email is generally the most reliable way of reaching me.

Grade scale

 A 80-100%  B- 60-65%
 A- 75-80%  C+ 55-60%
 B+ 70-75%  C 50-55%
 B 65-70%  C- 45-50%

Note that even in the A range there is plenty of room for you to show extra initiative and insight. The threshold for A is deliberately set low, so that you have an opportunity to get additional credit for more creative work.


Written work should be submitted individually, unless the assignment guidelines state otherwise or you have made prior arrangements with the instructor, but you are strongly encouraged to work together on labs and homeworks in addition to group projects. Academic honesty includes giving appropriate credit to collaborators.  Although collaboration is encouraged, collaboration should not be confused with writing up the results of a classmate’s work – this is unacceptable. If you work as a part of a group, you should indicate this at the top of your assignment when you submit it.  



Discusion note #S1 [1/26/22]: Branigan & Pickering 2017 (“An experimental approach to linguistic representation”; see Readings) argues for the value of syntactic priming as a tool for understanding language structure. Take a look at this paper — you are not expected to read it all from start to finish. Send an email ahead of our meeting on Wednesday that addresses at least two of these questions. (1) The finding by Bock & Loebell (1990) about priming and by-phrases (see Section 2.1, p. 8) is among the most influential in this literature. Why so? Is this fame justified? (2) What do B&P mean by “The reality of linguistic representation” (p. 3)? (3) What is the role of the evidence from missing (“elided”) elements in Mandarin (p. 10)?

Discussion note #S2 [2/2/22]: Omaki et al. (2014) examines adult and child interpretations of globally ambiguous wh-questions like “Where did Emily say that she hurt herself?”, in both English and Japanese. The motivation is tounderstand how children process sentences that they encounter.

1.What should we conclude from the cross-language comparison between English and Japanese speaking children?
2.Based on these findings, how serious is the risk that children misunderstand things that are said to them?
3.Some languages, e.g., Russian, are reported to severely limit long-distance wh-dependencies, such that “Where did Emily tellsomeone that she hurt herself?” can only be understood as a question about the telling event. In light of Omaki et al.’s findings: what would be needed for English and Russian speaking childrento correctly figure out whether their language allows long-distancewh-dependencies?


Akira Omaki was a 2010 PhD graduate from UMD who passed away in 2018. Read about his life here.


Discussion Note #S3 [2/9/22]: 

Look at the following two pieces, both of which elegantly describe a learning challenge for children.

 Pinker’s piece is the introduction to a classic book length treatment of a problem in learning the argument structure of verbs. Pinker lays out clearly the ingredients that he says create a learning problem (or “paradox”) for the learner. Goro’s work is less well known, but it presents an equally noteworthy puzzle. He explicitly models his arguments on Pinker’s arguments, so it’s possible to identify clear parallels between the two. In each of the two cases, try to address the following:

(i) Give a concise description of the learning problem. What is it that children must learn? Are there some things that children might be able to avoid learning because the relevant knowledge is innate? (For this purpose, we need not worry about how comfortable you are with attributing innate linguistic knowledge to a child. We are just concerned with the logic of the problem that children face.) When a linguistic property exhibits cross-language variation, or when it is arbitrarily linked to words that must be learned, then we can be fairly confident that something must be learned.

(ii) In both cases, there is some developmental evidence that learners overgeneralize, i.e., they appear to accept some possibilities that are not possible in the adult language. Does this make the learning problem harder?

(iii) Suggest what kinds of experience might help learners to figure out the relevant properties of their language. E.g., specific kinds of sentences, or sentences in combination with specific meanings or scenarios.  

For this discussion note, you do not need to read everything in detail. You need to dip into the two puzzles enough that you can work through the logic of the learning problems and think about how children might solve them.

Discussion Note #S4 [2/16/22]

Pearl & Sprouse (2013) present a model of how island constraints could be learned without ‘hard coding’ them into Universal Grammar. Their model is interesting because (i) it challenges claims that these constraints areunlearnable, (ii) it uses (parsed) child-directed speech, and (iii) it is computationally explicit and transparent, i.e., no black box machinery. For this reason, I regard it as raising the bar for learning models.

Q1: Briefly describe how the P&S model generalizes beyond input sentences that it encounters. How does it come to treat long-distance wh-questions as more acceptable than island violations?

Q2: If child directed speech includes errors, e.g., inadvertent island constraint violations, can the P&S model still succeed?

Q3: Could the P&S model learn different island constraints in another language?

Tip: In the P&S model, the notion of ”container node trigram” is central. This is the main piece to understand. 

Note: In 2013 I published an article that is critical of the P&S proposal. This does not change that I think P&S’s model is really important. Their model changes the nature of the discussion.

Discussion Note #S5 (2/23/22)

Conroy et al. (2009) present a series of experiments on children’s interpretations of pronouns in sentences like (i) “Dopey painted him” or (ii) “Every Dwarf painted him”. It has long been known that children in English and other languages often allow an interpretation of (i) where the pronoun coercers with the subject of the same clause, an interpretation that adults disallow. The reasons why they allow this are disputed. A well-known finding from the late 80s is that the same children appear to do better, i.e., allowing only the adult interpretation for (ii), where the subject is a quantifier. This is striking, because children seem to do better with (ii), despite it being intuitively more ‘complex’ than (i), and because it potentially resolved a dispute among linguists and philosophers about how pronouns link up to their antecedents. Exciting stuff! … But then things got messy. Elbourne (2005) argued that the famous contrast was an experimental artifact (boo!). So in an earlier iteration of this course we tried to remedy that, by finding a better design. To our surprise, we found that Elbourne was right. Ok, he was only partly right. Along the way we learned that children could do better on (i), but only if the conditions were delicately balanced. Children’s interpretations are pretty fragile!

Q1: Both the “Delay of Principle B Effect” and the “Quantificational Asymmetry” attracted a lot of attention from a lot of language acquisition researchers. Why all the fuss and attention? What is at stake?

Q2: The experimental design highlights the notions of “availability” — a property of the pronoun’s antecedent — and “disputability” — a property of a clause-sized interpretation. If both of these are important, what can we conclude (if anything) about how children go about generating or choosing interpretations?

Q3: Although Conroy et al. found that children were surprisingly adult like in their pronoun interpretations, many, many other studies have not found that. What should we make of this variability? 

Discussion Note #S6 (3/9/22)

The 2017 article in Language by Keshev & Meltzer-Asscher is a good recent example of comprehenders making detailed use of the grammatical constraints of their language, in this case Hebrew. K&M show that when Hebrew comprehenders interpret “filler-gap” and “filler-resumptive” dependencies they are highly sensitive to the locations where gaps and resumptive pronouns (RPs) can occur. Assuming that the authors’ characterization is correct, and that Hebrew speakers are really good at this, describe the information that these speakers need to keep track of as they go through a sentence, and how quickly they need to act, in order to account for the kind of sensitivity shown in these studies. Do you find it surprising or unsurprising that Hebrew speakers are able to do this? (The reason why I often ask these ‘surprise’ questions, is because they are an invitation to put some findings in the context of other things that you/we know, and to comment on how well those findings fit.)

Discussion Note #S7 (3/16/22)

For this week’s discussion, we focus on an important line of argumentation, due to Brian McElree and colleagues (McElree, Foraker, & Dyer 2003). They rely on an interesting but rarely used experimental paradigm called Speed-Accuracy Tradeoff (SAT). The 2003 article makes the striking claim that in comprehension of wh-dependencies, long-distance relations are constructed just as quickly as local relations. (i) Give a brief summary of the empirical argument for this claim. Does this argument depend on the logic of the SAT paradigm, or could the same argument maybe be made using more common reaction time paradigms (e.g., press a button as soon as you detect an anomaly)? (ii) Thinking about other recent things that we have read about wh-dependencies, e.g., Pearl & Sprouse 2013, Keshev & Meltzer-Asscher 2017, we have seen good example of how constraints on filler-gap relations impact the learning or processing of wh-dependencies. If McElree et al. are right that filler-gap dependencies are formed via a “direct access” mechanism, how could constraints on those dependencies, i.e., island constraints, impact dependency formation?

Discussion Note #S8 (4/6/22)

This week we will discuss the implications of a very new study by Bhatia & Dillon (2022) about agreement processing and “agreement attraction” effects in Hindi. Agreement attraction is best known from examples of incorrect subject-verb agreement in languages like English (e.g., The key to the cabinets are on the table), but much research has shown that the phenomenon is more widespread and also more selective. The grammar of Hindi provides an unusually clear testing ground. Questions: (i) Give a concise summary of the evidence for B&D’s “agreement controller” account of selective attraction. What do you regard as the most important piece of evidence for this? (ii) Mechanistically, if the B&D generalization is accurate, does this commit us to specific assumptions about (A) what properties of NPs are encoded and visible to agreement computation, e.g., surface forms, abstract properties, etc., and (B) whether the status of specific NPs is maintained in an “active” state in memory, prior to reaching an agreeing verb? (Or could all the action happen by consulting passive memory at the point when an agreeing verb is encountered?)

Discussion Note #S9 (4/18/22)

Lee & Phillips (2022) is a soon-to-be-published study on agreement attraction in Korean L2 learners of English. It’s a follow-up on a surprising earlier finding by then-UMD students Zoe Schlueter & Shota Momma, who found evidence of L2 learners doing BETTER than native speakers of English, in the sense that they failed to show agreement attraction effects. The Lee & Phillips study originally contained just Experiment 1. Then when reviewers asked for more “online” evidence, Experiment 2 was added. That changed the conclusions of the study dramatically. (i) Based on the outcomes of the two experiments, what do you think changed in the account between the first and second versions of the study? (ii) Based on the findings of this study, can you make predictions about what we might expect to see in L2 learners whose first language has richer subject-verb agreement than Korean or Mandarin, e.g., Spanish, Polish, or Hebrew.

Discussion Note #S10 (5/4/22)

Momma and Ferreira (2019) is a clever study on the order in which speakers plan the words that they are going to say. Main argument: planning order systematically diverges from surface word order. The main point of the study is made already in Experiment 1, and the following 5 experiments mostly serve to tidy up loose ends around the interpretation of the first experiment. (a) What do you regard as the most important or most surprising piece of evidence in the study, and why? (b) Most of the experiments in the paper rely on an (extended) picture word interference (PWI) measure. Towards the end of the paper, M&F introduce an exploratory analysis involving correlations of speaking times with verb frequencies. Both of these measures are intended to measure when specific words are planned. Are these two effects measuring the same thing? Do you think that one is more useful than the other? (c) All the nouns and verbs in the study are singular. If the modifier noun is plural (“spoons”), should we expect to see agreement attraction in either of the two key sentences (1: The octopus below the spoons are boiling; 2: The octopus below the spoons are swimming)? 


Fall semester assignments


Discussion note #1 [9/1/21]: Whistled languages are a striking example of the adaptation of human speech to different environments. Generally they are not distinct languages, but versions of spoken languages that are conveyed in whistled form. A new review of whistled languages from around the world by Julien Meyer reveals striking similarities in how languages adapt to the whistled medium. This is also summarized in a broad audience piece (with demos!) by Bob Holmes in Knowable Magazine. Please answer the following questions: (i) Why does whistling force languages to limit the information that is conveyed to the listener? Describe a couple of regularities in how languages choose to do this. (ii) Are there psycholinguistic implications of how languages adapt to the whistled medium? In particular, do the adaptations seem more suited to helping speakers or helping listeners (or neither)?


Discussion note #2 [9/8/21]: Marr’s (1982) discussion of visual perception highlights the “goal” of the computation. Does linguistic computation have a “goal”? Does Marr’s view on levels of analysis align with Chomsky’s contrasting of competence and performance? [See especially Marr, pp. 20-28, Chomsky pp. 3-15.]

Note that these classic distinctions from Chomsky and Marr are by no means the last word on these issues. Some argue that the distinctions are unnecessary, others argue for additional distinctions. In thinking about these issues, you may find it useful to apply the contrasts highlighted in class: (i) levels of analysis, (ii) tasks, (iii) mechanisms.


Disussion note #3 [9/15/21]: A very short paper by Stager & Werker (1997) reports four experiments on infants’ sensitivity to labels assigned to pictures. In one key experiment, 8-month olds appear to “outperform” 14-month olds. This seems counterintuitive. What is going on, and why is this an elegant demonstration? (The paper appeared in Nature, it has been cited around 1,000 times, and it has generated a lot of interesting subsequent work.)

Discussion note #4 [9/29/21]: Feldman et al. (2021, Open Mind) propose “perceptual space learning” as an alternative to “phonetic category learning” by infants. What’s the difference? In class we have discussed at length whether learning words is (or is not) important for learning the sounds of a native language. We also discussed (on Monday 9/27) the idea that learning words could help learners to recognize systematic differences between pairs of sounds, e.g., learning that a language phonologically contrasts short and long vowels. Does the new hypothesis by Feldman et al. predict a role for word learning? And can it help to explain the puzzle in figuring out vowel length categories? [Note, a second new paper by the same group, Schatz et al. (PNAS, 2021) provides a deeper dive into the computational simulations. This is a good example of state-of-the-art integration of cognitive science with machine learning. But you can answer the discussion note without this paper, and it is not recommended to start with that one.]


Discussion note #5 [10/6/21]: Näätänen et al. (1997) and Kazanina et al. (2006) are two short papers that both use the “mismatch” paradigm in EEG/MEG to try to identify correlates of native language speech perception abilities. Both test speakers of two languages and focus on a specific phonological difference between those two languages. But they apply a different logic from each other in how they try to link the EEG/MEG responses to the language-specific sound representations. What is different between the two approaches? What kinds of representations of sounds do they succeed in tapping into? (Abstract categories? Acoustics?) [Note: I was involved in one of the papers, but you should feel free to challenge the logic of that paper. I am not wedded to it.]



Discussion note #6 [10/13/21]; Read the short Science paper by Van Turennout et al. (1998) that makes an attention-grabbing claim about going “from syntax to phonology” in 40 milliseconds. The study is certainly clever, but the title is a bit of a simplification. Question: describe as accurately as possible what the 40 milliseconds corresponds to. Can we say what mental computations/processes occur in that time interval? Does that seem (im)plausibly fast? (Rough estimate, as a neural signal passes through different steps in the brain, it takes around 10ms per step, e.g., there are 6 steps between the cochlea and auditory cortex, and it takes 50-60ms for signals to travel from one to the other.)



Note that you do not need to understand the fine details of the “Temporal Response Function” (TRF) analysis method in order to follow the argument, though a high level grasp of what it aims to do could be useful. It is, however, very useful to understand the notions of “phoneme surprisal” and “cohort entropy”, as these play a key role. Recall the example we discussed in class of a gradually narrowing cohort of word candidates as the word SPINACH is gradually heard. PHONEME SURPRISAL corresponds to how much the cohort of candidates shrinks when a specific new phoneme is added, e.g., how much the cohort shrinks from SPI to SPIN. COHORT ENTROPY corresponds to the size of the cohort at a given point in the word, e.g., the number of candidates that remain in the cohort after SPIN has been heard.


Discussion Note 9 [11/17/21]Federmeier & Kutas (1999) is a notable paper in a couple of ways. Among its two main findings, one is widely known and influential, one much less so. For each of the two, I’m interested to hear your comments on what the evidence tells us about how words are processed in context, and whether you find the evidence surprising (and why it is(n’t) surprising, of course). (i) The reduced N400 amplitude for words that are anomalous in context, but related to an expected word. (ii) The hemispheric contrast.


Discussion Note 10 [12/7/21]: For our final discussion note of the semester, please read a new paper by (current HESP postdoc) Tal Ness (Ness & Meltzer-Asscher 2021). This study is part of an emerging cottage industry that looks at speech timing in cloze tasks to understand how words are accessed. Ness & Meltzer-Asscher make the interesting claim that semantic similarity between word candidates has the opposite effect in a cloze task than it has in single-word tasks … but that those different effects have the same cause. QUESTION: Try to explain in accessible terms why semantic similarity has these different effects in different tasks. Do you find this argument persuasive?


The paper is a short one, but it is relatively dense. One of its interesting features is its use of explicit models of how words are activated in a cloze task, prior to utterance, and how this relates to prior models of lexical activation in single word tasks.


 An important prior study, which we briefly touched upon in class on Monday, is Staub et al. 2015, which used speech timing in a cloze task to argue for a “Race Model” of the cloze task. It’s worth a look. There are two main findings in the paper. The first (Figs 1 & 5) is that high cloze items are produced more quickly. This is not especially surprising. The more notable finding (Figs 3 & 7) is that when two words have the same cloze probability, it is the one with higher cloze competitors that is produced faster. It’s what I referred to as the “Usain Bolt effect”. It’s counterintuitive at first. But it’s super useful for understanding what is really going on in a cloze task. 




These are links to the slides used in the course. But note that they include some things that were not discussed in class, and in many cases the slides do not do justice to our extensive discussions in class.








This list will be updated over the course of the year.

Some History


Bever, T. (2021). How Cognition came into being. Cognition, 213, 104761.

Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [chapter 1]


Overview: Putting Pieces Together

This series of articles lays out the current thinking of myself and colleagues on the relation between traditional linguistic theories and theories in psycholinguistics.


Lewis, S. & Phillips, C. (2015). Aligning grammatical theories and language processing models. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 44, 27-46. 


Momma, S. & Phillips, C. (2018). The relationship between parsing and generation. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 233-254. 


Phillips, C., Gaston, P., Huang, N., & Muller, H. (2020). Theories all the way down: remarks on “theoretical” and “experimental” linguistics. In press: G. Goodall, ed., Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Syntax. 


Omaki, A. & Lidz, J. (2015). … review article on language acquisition and language processing …



A Case Study on Syntactic Priming 


Branigan, H. & Pickering, M. (2017). An experimental approach to linguistic representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e282.


Introduction (Fall)

 Whistled languages – something completely different … maybe








Meyer, J. (2021). Environmental and linguistic typology of whistled languages. Annual Review of Linguistics, 7, 493-510.








Holmes, B. (2021). Speaking in whistles. Knowable Magazine, publ. 8/16/21.








Higher level background








Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [chapter 1]








Marr, D. (1982). Vision. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [excerpt]








Jackendoff, R. (2002). Foundations of language. Oxford University Press. [chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4]








Lewis, S. & Phillips, C. (2015). Aligning grammatical theories and language processing modelsJournal of Psycholinguistic Research, 44, 27-46.








Momma, S. & Phillips, C. (2018). The relationship between parsing and generation. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 233-254








Speech Perception, Learning Sound Categories








Stager, C. & Werker, J. (1997). Infants listen for more phonetic detail in speech perception than word learning tasksNature, 388, 381-382. [This is one of the primary readings for the section of the course on phonetic/phonological representations. A very short, but very important study. Why are younger infants better than older infants, even on native-language contrasts?]








Feldman, N, Goldwater, S., Dupoux, E., & Schatz, T. (2021). Do infants really learn phonetic categories? Open Mind (in press). 








Schatz, T., Feldman, N., Goldwater, S., Cao, X., & Dupoux, E. (2021). Early phonetic learning without phonetic categories: Insights from large-scale simulations on realistic inputProceedings of the National Academies of Science, 118.








Werker, J. (1994). Cross-language speech perception: Developmental change does not involve loss. In: Goodman & Nusbaum (eds.), The Development of Speech Perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp:93-120. [Useful for Lab 1. This paper reviews in more details the reasons why Werker adopts a structure-adding view of phonetic development.]








Werker, J. (1995). Exploring developmental changes in cross-language speech perception. In L. Gleitman & M. Liberman (eds) Language: An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Vol 1 (2nd edn.), 87-106. [This paper is the best starting point for this section of the course. It presents an overview of Werker’s views on phonetic development up to 1995, including a straightforward study of her important cross-language experiments from the early 1980s.] 








Werker, J. F., Pons, F., Dietrich, C., Kajikawa, S., Fais, L., & Amano, S. (2007). Infant-directed speech supports phonetic category learning in English and JapaneseCognition, 103, 147-162. [Analysis of what infants actually hear. It is presented as an argument for unsupervised distributional learning, but I suspect that it shows the opposite.]












Cognitive Neuroscience of Speech Perception




Näätänen et al. 1997. Language-specific phoneme representations revealed by electric and magnetic brain responsesNature, 385, 432-434.




Kazanina, N., Phillips, C., & Idsardi, W. 2006. The influence of meaning on the perception of speech soundsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 11381-11386.




van Turennout, M., Hagoort, P., & Brown, C. 1998. Brain activity during speaking: from syntax to phonology in 40 millisecondsScience, 280, 572-574.




Word Recognition




An accessible introduction to some foundational concepts and findings: 




Altmann, G. 1997. Words and how we (eventually) find them. Chapter 6 of The Ascent of Babel. Oxford University Press. [A good introductory chapter.]




Some recommended readings for class discussion.




Chen, L. & Boland, J. 2008. Dominance and context effects on activation of alternative homophone meaningsMemory and Cognition, 36, 1306-1323.




Magnuson, J., Mirman, D., & Myers, E. 2013. Spoken word recognition. In D. Reisberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology, p. 412-441. Oxford University Press.




Gaston, P., Lau, E., & Phillips, C. 2020. How does(n’t) syntactic context guide auditory word recognition. Submitted.




Lau, E., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. 2008. A cortical network for semantics: (de)constructing the N400. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9, 920-933.




Federmeier, K. & Kutas, M. 1999. Right words and left words: electrophysiological evidence for hemispheric differences in meaning processingCognitive Brain Research 8, 373-392.




Ness, A. & Meltzer-Asscher, A. 2021. Love thy neighbor: Facilitation and inhibition in the competition between parallel predictionsCognition 207, 104509.




Staub, A., Grant, M., Astheimer, L., & Cohen, A. 2015. The influence of cloze probability and item constraint on cloze task response timeJournal of Memory and Language 82, 1-17.








Some seminal papers discussed in class.




Marslen-Wilson, W. 1975. Sentence perception as an interactive parallel processScience, 189, 226-228 




Marslen-Wilson, W. 1987. Functional parallelism in spoken word recognitionCognition, 25, 71-102.




Boland, J. and Cutler, A. 1996. Interaction with autonomy: Multiple output models and the inadequacy of the Great DivideCognition, 58-309-320.




Dahan, D., Magnuson, J., & Tanenhaus, M. 2001. Time course of frequency effects in spoken word recognition: Evidence from eye-movementsCognitive Psychology, 42, 317-367.




Kutas, M. & Federmeier, K. 2000. Electrophysiology reveals semantic memory use in language comprehension. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 463-470