Research Themes & Methods

  • Cognitive architecture of the language system & its neural correlates
  • Executive control in language production
  • Metacognition over language: monitoring and error detection in language production
  • Language impairment (aphasia) and rehabilitation

Methods: behavioral testing of neurotypical adults and children, neuropsychological testing of post-stroke individuals with brain damage, eye-tracking, computational modeling, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (t-DCS).

Active Projects

How do we monitor our speech?

I believe that speech errors are detected using a domain-general error detection mechanism. This mechanism uses the information already generated in the production process and relays this information to a domain-general executive center. Our past work have provided computational and empirical evidence in support of this account. Current work focuses on bilingual monitoring, in collaboration with Clara Martin at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language.

How does attention help or hurt our speech?

A huge body of work has addressed the effects of attention in visual processing (attention in space, and in perception). Language production provides a great opportunity to study attention in time, and in production. My past work has shown that selective attention in spoken production can be quantified using the analysis of speech errors. Current work focuses on computational implementation of attention in sequential production and study its effects on short- and long-term retention and learning. Recently, in collaboration with Stephanie Ries at UC-Berkeley, we have started an investigation into electrophysiological signatures of selective attention in language production.

What is the role of inhibitory control in grammatical encoding?

In collaboration with Akira Omaki, we are exploring the role of inhibitory control in lexical access and structure building in spoken production of adults and children. This project includes a series of experiments that investigate the level of specificity of inhibitory control to processes involved in grammatical encoding, and the possibility that such control may be shared with non-linguistic processes. A related project in the lab explores the sequential effect of inhibitory control in regulating subsequent trials.

What is the role of working memory and executive control in perspective taking?

That main project of my postdoctoral fellow, Alison, this project constitutes a series of experiments studying the cognitive architecture of perspective taking in production and comprehension, with a special emphasis on working memory and inhibitory control. This project extends the study of perspective taking to aphasia, investigates the extent and roots of perspective taking problems in this population, and tests the potential for non-invasive brain stimulation methods for improving such problems.

Studying the basic architecture of the language production system, its development and dynamics of learning

While all the projects listed above speak to these questions to some degree, some of our on-going work test them directly. In a collaborative project with Dr. Barbara Landau, we are exploring the development of interactivity in the language production system in 4 and 6 year old children. Another study looks at the effects of semantic clustering on learning new items.