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What We Do

In the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Cornell University, we aim to produce a comprehensive account of the evolution, acquisition and processing of language. 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).

News

Dr. Christiansen was interviewed as language science expert for Weekendavisen article: “Sprogfader i modvind,” written by Mikke Borris, October 21, 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 Radio 4's Inside Science, BBC World, BBC Wales, and four Australian radio stations.

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.

Review of Cultural evolution (edited by P. Richerson & M.H. Christiansen) in Journal of Economic Literature.

Congrats to grad student Erin Isbilen won a best poster prize (3rd place) for "Testing Implicit Statistical Learning Implicitly", presented at the Fifth Implicit Learning Seminar, Lancaster University, U.K.

The Cornell Chronicle published a piece on Dr. Christiansen's recent paper in Behavioral & Brain Sciences: 'Now-or-Never bottleneck' explains language acquisition on June 7, 2016.

Dr. Christiansen's new book, Creating language: Integrating evolution, acquisition, and processing, is now out (April 1, 2016). Click here for a brief write-up on phys.org

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

Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at the Fifth Implicit Learning Seminar at Lancaster University, U.K., June 23-25 2016.

Dr. Christiansen delivered a public lecture, "Darwin's Insight: The Cultural Evolution of Language", in the Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution series, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. Write-up in the UA News.

News Archive

Upcoming Presentations

Dr. Christiansen will be 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 will talk about the processing, acquisition and evolution of language at the Tompkins County Public Library event series on "Exploring Human Origins", January 19, 2017, at 6PM, Ithaca, NY.

Dr. Christiansen will deliver a Cognitive Science Colloquium at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, March 16, 2017.

Recent Journal Papers

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

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

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

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.

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.

Chater, N. & Christiansen, M.H. (2016). Squeezing through the Now-or-Never bottleneck: Reconnecting language processing, acquisition, change and structure. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 39, e62 [response to commentaries]

Chater, N., McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2016). Language as skill: Intertwining comprehension and production. Journal of Memory and Language, 89, 244-254.

Christiansen, M.H. & Chater, N. (2016). The Now-or-Never bottleneck: A fundamental constraint on language. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 39, e62 [target article]

Christiansen, M.H. & Monaghan, P. (2016). Division of labor in vocabulary structure: Insights from corpus analyses. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 610–624.

Dediu, D. & Christiansen, M.H. (2016). Language evolution: Constraints and opportunities from modern genetics. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 361–370.

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.

Mueller, K.L., Murray, J.C., Michaelson, J.J., Christiansen, M.H., Reilly, S. & Tomblin, J.B. (2016). Common genetic variants in FOXP2 are not associated with individual differences in language development. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152576.

Vuong, L.C., Meyer, A.S. & Christiansen, M.H. (2016). Concurrent learning of adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies. Language Learning, 66, 8-30.

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.

Cornell University