Invited Speakers

Marina Bedny
Dr. Marina Bedny

Dr. Marina Bedny is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. She examines the role of developmental experience in structuring concepts of events, objects, and mental states by comparing the minds and brains of people with different developmental experiences. She also studies cortical plasticity, specifically examining the cognitive functions that are supported by the occipital cortex in blind people. 

Karen Emmorey
Dr. Karen Emmorey

Dr. Karen Emmorey is a professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at San Diego State University. She is also the Director for the Laboratory for Language & Cognitive Neuroscience. Her research focuses on what sign languages can reveal about the nature of human language, cognition, and the brain. She also investigates the neural correlates of language and nonlinguistic cognitive functions using fMRI and PET.

Barbara Landau
Dr. Barbara Landau

Dr. Barbara Landau is the Dick and Lydia Todd Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University. Her research examines the relationship between language and space in children and adults. In order to examine the relationships between language and other conceptual domains such as perception and space, some of her other research interests include examining unusual cases of development, such as studies of congenitally blind children, studies of people with Williams syndrome, and studies of spatial representation in individuals who have sustained perinatal stroke.

Laurence Leonard
Dr. Laurence Leonard

Dr. Laurence Leonard is the Rachel E. Stark Distinguished Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. He is also the Director of the Child Language Laboratory at Purdue University. Leonard's current research explores procedures that facilitate children's word learning and retention. Some of his other research includes examining characteristics of adults' linguistic input that might be misinterpreted by children with specific language impairment, leading them to produce many of the grammatical errors frequently documented for this children. 

Bob McMurray
Dr. Bob McMurray

Dr. Bob McMurray is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa and is the director of the MACLab. He studies on-line spoken word recognition and speech perception in typical adults and in people with language impairment and cochlear implants. He also studies the development of speech perception and word learning in infants and children. In order to address some of these research questions, his methods include eye tracking, cognitive neuroscience techniques, and computational modeling. 

Elizabeth Stine-Morrow
Dr. Elizabeth Stine-Morrow

Dr. Elizabeth Stine-Morrow is a Professor in the department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on the multifaceted nature of adult development and aging, and in particular, how cognition and intellectual capacities are optimized over the adult life span. She has examined how self-regulated adaptations, such as selective allocation of attentional resources, reliance on knowledge-based processes, and others, engender positive development in adulthood. Much of this research has focused on the important role of literacy and the processes through which effective reading is maintained into late life. 

Variation in the Mechanisms of Human Language Processing

For three decades, the CUNY Human Sentence Processing conference has provided an essential forum for psycholinguistic research. Although research from the CUNY Conference community has produced numerous fundamental advances, the picture of human language processing that emerges is potentially skewed by a focus on the language processing of typically developing, college-aged native speakers, who comprise the participant pools in most researchers’ experiments. The special session at CUNY 2019 will highlight research that expands our purview beyond this “typical” population and acknowledges variation in the mechanisms of language processing across the human population.

Key questions raised in the special session will include:

  1. how language learning and processing is impacted by congenitally atypical cognitive or perceptual abilities (e.g., deafness or blindness)
  2. how language processing mechanisms change across the lifespan as the brain develops and ages
  3. what sorts of individual differences in language processing occur within the typically developing population.  

Six distinguished invited speakers will present their research in these areas. Additionally, submissions for presentation are encouraged from researchers investigating variation in language processing, broadly construed and not restricted to the specific topics represented by the invited speakers. 

The special session aims to foster cross-pollination among research paradigms. We anticipate that many psycholinguists will gain valuable insights from exposure to the phenomena and methods highlighted by researchers studying variation. Conversely, current sentence processing research has much to offer to those who study language abilities in populations that differ from the one traditionally studied, including children, older people, people from diverse levels of socioeconomic backgrounds, and various cognitively atypical groups of people. 

Critically, the study of individual and group differences in language processing is entirely consonant with the goals of those who search for universals of language and language processing. The commitment underlying this session is that better understanding of systematic variation in language processing will illuminate what is universal.

Invited Speakers