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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.

News Archive

Upcoming Presentations

M.H. Christiansen (2015, February 20). Language Acquisition as Learning to Process: The Importance of Chunking.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.

M.H. Christiansen (2015, March 12). Language Evolution as Cultural Evolution. Talk to be presented at the symposium on Cognitive and Evolutionary Approaches to Human Culture, Cornell University, NY.

M.H. Christiansen & P. Monaghan (2015, March 19). Arbitrariness and Systematicity in Vocabulary Structure. Paper to be presented in a symposium on Sound Symbolism: New Insights into its Role in Language Development at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

I. Arnon, S.M. McCauley & M.H. Christiansen (2015, March). Digging up the Building Blocks of Language: Age-of-Acquisition Effects for Multiword Phrases. Poster to be presented at 28th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

M.H. Christiansen (2015, April). TBA. Invited speaker at the workshop on Causality in the Language Sciences, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

M.H. Christiansen (2015, May 20). Sequence Learning and the Cultural Evolution of Language. Invited talk to be delivered at the symposium for Learning about the Vocal World: Deciphering the Statistics of Communication at the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methodology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

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.

Frost, R., Armstrong, B.C., Siegelman, N. & Christiansen, M.H. (in press). Domain generality vs. modality specificity: The paradox of statistical learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

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). Acquiring formulaic language: A computational model. Mental Lexicon, 9, 419-436.

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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