Professor of Cognitive Science
In 1990, she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which enabled her to pursue an M.Phil. in theoretical linguistics at Wolfson College, Oxford University. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998.
She is interested in the structure of lexical representations and in applying electrophysiological techniques, in particular event related potentials, to the investigation of cognitive phenomena. Her thesis work consisted of investigating the relationship between orthography and lexical stress in English. Her current research is focused on examining how complex words are represented in the mental lexicon. She teaches courses in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and psycholinguistics.
The purpose of this course is to introduce you to human cognition or the scientific study of the mind. We will take an information processing view of psychological functions. Thus we will spend much of our time discussing information, in the form of mental representations, and how this information is transformed in the mind. We will examine how perceptual information enters the mind, how attention is used to select from the array of available incoming sensory information, how knowledge is encoded, stored in and retrieved from memory, how information is conveyed to others via language, and how information is used in reasoning and decision making. Students will be expected to read and critically analyze articles from the professional scientific literature.
Words are the basic linguistics units of a language and the ability to recognize a word is a fundamental component of reading. For many years most of the research in reading was conducted in English, and it was assumed that what was true for reading English words would also be true for words in other languages. However, many languages differ in striking ways from English and studying these languages can be useful in illustrating the different ways that people approach reading. In this class we will look at the structure of words in the Semitic languages-Hebrew and Arabic-and consider how differences in word structure can influence the ways in which we read. Students will learn how to read and critically evaluate the scholarly literature on the psychology of reading. No knowledge of Hebrew or Arabic is required.
The problem of explaining how the brain enables human conscious experience remains a great mystery of human knowledge. This course is an introduction to cognitive neuroscience in which we will attempt to examine the neural underpinnings of the mind's complex processes, paying particular attention to vision, attention, and memory. Cognitive neuroscience incorporates elements of physiological psychology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. In this course we will become familiar with the tools of research used in cognitive neuroscience and with questions that motivate researchers in the field. Students will be expected to read and critically analyze articles from the professional scientific literature.
Language is paramount among the capacities that characterize humans. We hold language as a marker of our humanity, and by understanding language we assume that we will understand something important about ourselves. In this course we will ask, and try to answer questions such as the following: What's so special about language? How do we produce sentences? How do we understand them? What might cause us to fail at either task? What is meaning, and how does language express it? Is our capacity for language a biological endowment unique to the human species?
This course will examine language learning from a cognitive perspective and consider the relative contributions of genetics and environment to the process of language acquisition. In the course we will examine how children learn words, how they learn to put words together to form sentences and how they learn to use language appropriately in social situations. We will look at children learning two or more languages simultaneously and at children who, in very rare cases, have been altogether deprived of language. We will look at language learning under conditions of significant environmental deprivation such as when children are born blind or deaf and also look at language learning in children with cognitive impairments such as those born with William's syndrome. Time permitting, we will discuss clinical conditions in which there is significant involvement of the language system such as autism, and childhood aphasia. The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary literature.
Human social interaction relies upon the ability to correctly attribute beliefs, goals, and percepts to other people. This set of meta-representational abilities--a "theory of mind"--allows us to understand the behaviour of others. Individuals with autism are often thought to lack a theory of mind as they show impairments on tasks testing this ability, as well as impairments on tasks involving language and face processing. In this course we will examine the links between these three domains-language, face processing and social cognition, and the role each plays in helping us navigate the social world. Prerequisite: One prior course in cognitive science, cognitive psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, physiological psychology, comparative psychology, linguistics, neuroscience or any other relevant area