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What We Do

In the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Cornell University, we aim to develop a comprehensive account of the evolution, acquisition and processing of language (Christiansen & Chater, 2017). Our research is conducted within a unified framework for understanding language across multiple time-scales: the time-scale of thousands of years, over which languages themselves evolve; the time-scale of years, over which children acquire the language of their community; and the time-scale of seconds, in which particular utterances are spoken and understood. We approach language using a variety of methods, including neuroimaging, eye-tracking, statistical learning experiments, psycholinguistic studies, corpus analyses, and computational modeling as well as with different subject populations, ranging from infants to adults with and without language impairments. A comprehensive account of the CNL research can be found in the book Creating language: Integrating evolution, acquisition, and processing by Christiansen & Chater (2016). Click here for a brief video in which Dr. Christiansen talks about the nature of language.

News

Dr. Christiansen was elected Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society.

Write-up on phys.org on the July 31, 2017, Nature Human Behaviour Comment by Christiansen & Chater.

Dr. Christiansen was awarded a grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research to study the Puzzle of Danish.

CNL research is featured on the Cornell University Research website: Creating Language.

Check out the short video with Dr. Christiansen recorded when he gave the inaugural Edinburgh Lectures in Language Evolution, Centre for Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, February 20, 2017.

CNL research is featured on the Cornell University Research website: Creating Language.

The Cornell Chronicle published a piece on Dr. Christiansen's recent paper in PLoS ONE: 'Memory limits give rise to open-ended language abilities on January 25, 2017.

Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at a conference on Parental Involvement in Language Development from 0-6, organized by the Danish Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Nyborg, Denmark, November 30, 2016.

Dr. Christiansen was interviewed as language science expert for Weekendavisen article: “Sprogfader i modvind,” written by Mikke Borris, October 21, 2016.

Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at the First vs. Second Language Learning: From Neurobiology to Cognition conference, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, September 26-28, 2016.

Press coverage in more than 125 news outlets across the world about the Blasi, ... Christiansen (2016) PNAS paper, including write-ups in Washington Post, Scientific American, New Economist, Daily Telegraph. Interviews on BBC World, BBC Wales, and four Australian radio stations. Click here to listen to Dr. Christiansen's interview on BBC Radio 4's Inside Science,

Watch Dr. Christiansen's keynote Implicit-Statistical Learning: A Tale of Two Literatures delivered at the Fifth Implicit Learning Seminar, Lancaster University, UK, June 23-25, 2016.

News Archive

Upcoming Presentations

R.L.A. Frost, P. Monaghan & M.H. Christiansen: Use of High Frequency Words Helps Language Acquisition.. Poster to be presented at the Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP 2017) conference, Lancaster University, UK, September 7-9, 2017.

S.M. McCauley & M.H. Christiansen: Modeling the Role of Predictive vs. Recognition-based Processing in Acquisition. Talk to be presented at the Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP 2017) conference, Lancaster University, UK, September 7-9, 2017.

S.M. McCauley, E.S. Isbilen & M.H. Christiansen: Individual Differences in Chunking Ability Predict Sentence Processing at Multiple Levels of Abstraction. Poster to be presented at the Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP 2017) conference, Lancaster University, UK, September 7-9, 2017.

E.S. Isbilen, S.M. McCauley, E. Kidd & M.H. Christiansen: Statistical Learning as Chunking: A Novel Memory-Based Measure of Statistical Learning. Poster to be presented at the Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP 2017) conference, Lancaster University, UK, September 7-9, 2017.

Dr. Christiansen will deliver a colloquium at the Center for Language Science Speakers series at Penn State University, State College, PA, September 21, 2017.

Dr. Christiansen will deliver a colloquium in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, October 26, 2017.

Dr. Christiansen will deliver a colloquium in the in the Departments of Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, October 27, 2017.

Recent Journal Papers

Armstrong, B.C., Frost, R. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). The long road of statistical learning research: Past, present and future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372, 20160047.

Arnon, I. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). The role of multiword building blocks in explaining L1-L2 differences. Topics in Cognitive Science, 9, 621-636.

Arnon, I., McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). Digging up the building blocks of language: Age-of-acquisition effects for multiword phrases. Journal of Memory and Language, 92, 265-280.

Christiansen, M.H. & Arnon, I. (2017). More than words: the role of multiword sequences in language learning and use. Topics in Cognitive Science, 9, 542-551.

Christiansen, M.H. & Chater, N. (2017). Towards an integrated science of language. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, 0163.

Cornish, H., Dale, R., Kirby, S. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). Sequence memory constraints give rise to language-like structure through iterated learning. PLoS ONE 265-280.

Farmer, T.A., Fine, A.B., Misyak, J.B. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). The inter-relationship between reading span task performance, linguistic experience, and the processing of unexpected syntactic events. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 413-433.

Fitneva, S.A. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017) Developmental changes in cross-situational word learning: The inverse effect of initial accuracy. Cognitive Science, 41 (Suppl.), 141-161.

McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2017). Computational investigations of multiword chunks in language learning. Topics in Cognitive Science, 9, 637-652.

Siegelman, N., Bogaerts, L., Christiansen, M.H. & Frost, R. (2017). Towards a theory of individual differences in statistical learning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372, 20160059.

Blasi, D. E., Wichmann, S., Hammarström, H., Stadler, P. F. & Christiansen, M.H. (2016). Sound-meaning association biases evidenced across thousands of languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 10818-10823.

Grouchy, P.E., D’Eleuterio, G.M.T, Christiansen, M.H. & Lipson, H. (2016). On the evolutionary origin of symbolic communication. Nature Scientific Reports, 6, 34615.

Weber, K., Christiansen, M.H., Petersson, K., Indefrey, P. & Hagoort, P. (2016). fMRI syntactic and lexical repetition effects reveal the initial stages of learning a new language. Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 6872-6880.

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