Dr. Joanna Morris, associate professor of cognitive science, graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a major in Psychology.
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 course will focus on the acquisition of two or more languages by both children and adults. We will look at how two or more languages are represented in the mind of an individual and ad the mental processes that allow individuals to produce and understand sentences in each language. Questions that we will consider include: Who is considered bilingual and what are the criteria for 'knowing' a language? How does bilingualism influence linguistic and cognitive development? How does the cognitive system cope with the need to develop efficient processing mechanisms for two or more different languages and maintain separate access and representational mechanisms for each language? How is language is represented in the bilingual brain?
This course is an upper-level research seminar designed for students who wish to learn electrophysiological techniques and how to apply those techniques to answer research questions in the domain of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology. In this year's course students will help design a study of attention, run participants, and analyze the data. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to develop an original research project from conception through piloting participants. Course requirements will consist of reading primary research articles, designing, and executing an event related potential (ERP) research project. The class will cover all elements of setting up an ERP research project and we will focus on both the theory of electrophysiological research techniques as well as practical aspects of developing and running a research project. Prerequisite: one prior course in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, computer science or other relevant area.
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?
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 behavior 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 psychology, linguistics or neuroscience.
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.
Associate Professor of Cognitive Science
Mail Code CS
Adele Simmons Hall 205
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002