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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

Congrats to Olivia Wang who successfully defended her honors thesis on May 3, 2019!

Congrats to Dr. Ethan Jost for successfully defending his PhD on August 23, 2018!

Dr. Christiansen received the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly's Faculty Teaching, Advising, and Mentorship Award, Cornell University, June 22, 2018.

News Archive

Upcoming Presentations

Dr. Christiansen will be delivering a keynote at the 7th Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition, Aarhus University, Denmark, May 22, 2019.

Arash Aryani will be delivering a talk, "Meaning as Aroused by Sound", at the 7th Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition, Aarhus University, Denmark, May 22, 2019.

Members of the Puzzle of Danish team -- Fabio Trecca, Byurakn Ishkhanyan and Christina Dideriksen -- will be giving three talks in the symposium on "The Puzzle of Danish" at the 7th Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition, Aarhus University, Denmark, May 23, 2019.

Erin Isbilen will be delivering a talk, "Statistically-Based Chunking of Nonadjacent Dependencies", in the symposium on Frontiers of Nonadjacent Dependency Learning at the 7th Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition, Aarhus University, Denmark, May 23, 2019.

Fabio Trecca and Felicity Frinsel will be presenting a poster, "The Picture Guessing Game: Robust Active Statistical Learning of Syntactic Regularities", at the Third International Conference on Statistical Learning, San Sebastian, Spain, June 27, 2019.

Erin Isbilen will be delivering a talk, "Chunk-based statistical learning of nonadjacent dependencies", at the Third International Conference on Statistical Learning, San Sebastian, Spain, June 28, 2019.

Members of the Puzzle of Danish team -- Fabio Trecca, Byurakn Ishkhanyan and Christina Dideriksen -- will be giving posters/talk at the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Montreal, Quebec, July 25-27, 2019.

Stewart McCauley will be delivering a talk, "Modeling Children’s Early Linguistic Productivity through the Automatic Discovery and Use of Lexically-Based Frames", at the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Montreal, Quebec, July 25-27, 2019.

Recent Journal Papers

Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Implicit-statistical learning: A tale of two literatures. Topics in Cognitive Science.

Emberson, L.L., Misyak, J.B., Schwade, J., Christiansen, M.H. & Goldstein, M.H. (in press). Comparing statistical learning across perceptual modalities in infancy: An investigation of underlying learning mechanism(s). Developmental Science.

Frost, R.L.A., Monaghan, P. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Mark my words: High frequency marker words assist early stages of language learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Isbilen, E.S. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Chunk-based memory constraints on the cultural evolution of language. Topics in Cognitive Science.

Isbilen, E.S., Christiansen, M.H. & Chater, N. (2019). It’s about time: Adding processing to neuroemergentism. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 49, 224-227.

McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2019). Language learning as language use: A cross-linguistic model of child language development. Psychological Review, 126, 1-51.

Trecca, F., McCauley, S.M., Andersen, S.R., Bleses, D., Basbøll, H., Højen, A., Madsen, T.O., Ribu, I.S.B. & Christiansen, M.H. (2019). Segmentation of highly vocalic speech via statistical learning: Insights from a cross-linguistic study of Danish, Norwegian, and English. Language Learning, 69, 143–176.

Weber, K., Christiansen, M.H., Indefrey, P. & Hagoort, P. (2019). Primed from the start: Syntactic priming during the first days of language learning. Language Learning, 69, 198–221.

Chater, N. & Christiansen, M.H. (2018). Language acquisition as skill learning. Current Opinion in Behavioural Sciences, 21, 205-208.

Contreras Kallens, P., Dale, R. & Christiansen, M.H. (2018). Linguistic diversity and individual variation: Comment on “Rethinking foundations of language from a multidisciplinary perspective” by T. Gong et al.. Physics of Life Reviews, 26-27, 164-166.

Frank, S.L. & Christiansen, M.H. (2018). Hierarchical and sequential processing of language. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33, 1213-1218.

Poletiek, F., Conway, C.M., Ellefson, M.R., Lai, J., Bocanegra, B.R. & Christiansen, M.H. (2018. Under what conditions can recursion be learned? Effects of starting small in artificial grammar learning of recursive structure. Cognitive Science, 42, 2855-2889.

Trecca, F., Bleses, D., Madsen, T.O. & Christiansen, M.H. (2018). Does sound structure affect word learning? An eye-tracking study of Danish learning toddlers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 167, 180-203.

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