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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, behavioral experiments, corpus analyses, and computational modeling as well as with different subject populations, ranging from infants to adults with and without language impairments.


Dr. Christiansen will be a keynote speaker at the International Conference on Statistical Learning at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, San Sebastián, Spain.

Dr. Christiansen was a plenary speaker at the International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July, 14-18, 2014. Click here to see a streaming version of the talk.

Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at CoNLL-2014: the 18th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, Baltimore, MD, June 26-27, 2014.

Dr. Christiansen has become an External Professor in the Department of Language and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark, January 2014.

Dr. Christiansen has a new edited volume published on Cultural Evolution (with Pete Richerson), November 2013. Click here for a brief write-up in the Cornell Chronicle.

News Archive

Upcoming Presentations

H. Jolsvai, S.M. McCauley & M.H. Christiansen (2014, November). Evidence against Separate Processing of Idiomatic and Compositional Phrases. Talk to be presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Long Beach, CA.

J. Ying & M.H. Christiansen (2014, November). Learning Two Artificial Languages: L1 Knowledge Influencing L2 Learning. Poster to be presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Long Beach, CA.

M.H. Christiansen & S.M. McCauley (2015, February). TBA.Talk to be delivered at the Modeling Workshop, ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) at The Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster.

Recent Journal Papers

Caldwell-Harris, C., Ladd, R., Dediu, D., Biller, A. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press) Factors influencing sensitivity to lexical tone in an artificial language: Implications for L2 learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

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

Dediu, D. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Language evolution: Constraints and opportunities from modern genetics. Topics in Cognitive Science.

McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Acquiring formulaic language: A computational model. Mental Lexicon.

Vuong, L.C., Meyer, A.S. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Concurrent learning of adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies. Language Learning.

McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2014). Prospects for usage-based computational models of grammatical development: Argument structure and semantic roles. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 5, 489-499.

Monaghan, P., Shillcock, R.C., Christiansen, M.H. & Kirby, S. (2014). How arbitrary is language? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369, 20130299.

Hsu, H.J., Tomblin, J.B. & Christiansen, M.H. (2014). Impaired statistical learning of non-adjacent dependencies in adolescents with specific language impairment. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:175. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00175.

Mitchel, A.D., Christiansen, M.H. & Weiss, D.J. (2014). Multimodal integration in statistical learning: Evidence from the McGurk illusion. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 407. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00407.

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