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 acquisition using a variety of
methods, including neuroimaging, molecular
genetics, eye-tracking, behavioral experiments, corpus analyses,
and computational modeling as well as with different subject
populations, ranging from infants to adults with and without
Dr. Christiansen has a new edited volume published on Cultural
Evolution (with Pete Richerson), November 2013.
Dr. Christiansen has become affiliated with the
Haskins Labs as a Senior
Scientist, July 2013.
The paper "The arbitrariness of the sign: Learning advantages from the
structure of the vocabulary", Journal of Experimental Psychology:
General, 2011, by Monaghan, Christiansen & Fitneva was selected for the
2013 Cognitive Psychology Section Award from the British Psychological
Dr. Christiansen will be a plenary speaker at the
International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July, 14-18, 2014.
Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at the
2013 European Conference on Complex Systems(ECCS’13), Barcelona, Spain, September 16-20, 2013.
M.H. Christiansen: Darwin’s Insight: The Cultural Evolution of
Language. Invited public lecture delivered at the Institute of
Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, May 27,
Dr. Christiansen delivered a public lecture at the National Central
University, Taiwan, May 10, 2013.
The American Scholar published a piece reporting Dr. Christiansen's 2012 paper in PLoS ONE:
The biological origin of linguistic diversity March, 2013.
M.H. Christiansen: The Division of Labor between
Arbitrariness and Systematicity in Vocabulary Structure. Invited talk
to be delivered at the workshop on Sound Symbolism, Tokyo, Japan, December
D. Blasi, M.H. Christiansen, S. Wichmann, H. Hammarström & P. Stadler:
Sound Symbolism and the Origins of Language.
Paper to be presented at the 10th International Conference on the Evolution of
Language, Vienna, Austria, April 14-17, 2014.
F. Reali, N. Chater & M.H. Christiansen: The Paradox of
Linguistic Complexity and Community Size. Paper to be presented at
the 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language, Vienna,
Austria, April 14-17, 2014.
Baronchelli, A., Ferrer i Cancho,, R., Pastor-Satorras, R., Chater, N. &
Christiansen, M.H. (2013). Networks in cognitive
science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 348-360.
McCauley, S.M. & Christiansen, M.H. (2013).
Towards a unified account of comprehension and production in language development.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences [commentary].
Baronchelli, A., Chater, N., Christiansen, M.H. & Pastor-Satorras, R. (2013).
Evolution in a changing environment. PLoS ONE, 8(1): e52742.
Baronchelli, A., Chater, N., Pastor-Satorras, R. & Christiansen, M.H. (2012).
The biological origin of linguistic diversity. PLoS ONE, 7(10): e48029.