CNL home CNL home
Home People Research Publications Resources Contact

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 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.

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 Society.

Dr. Christiansen was a keynote speaker at the 2013 European Conference on Complex Systems(ECCS’13), Barcelona, Spain, September 16-20, 2013.

News Archive

Upcoming Talks

S.M. McCauley & M.H. Christiansen (2014, September). On-line Distributional Learning in Language Development: A Computational Model of Children's Early Comprehension and Production. Talk to be presented at the workshop on Modelling the Mechanisms: Challenges and Aims for Usage-based Computational Models of Grammatical Development at the 8th International Conference on Construction Grammar (ICCG8), University of Osnabrück, Germany.

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.

Recent Journal Papers

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

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

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.

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.

Cornell University