Entry Date:
May 1, 2001

Gibson Laboratory (TedLab): Human Language Processing

Principal Investigator Edward Gibson

Research in the Gibson Lab (a.k.a. TedLab) is aimed at investigating how people learn, represent and process language. In addition, we have recently started to investigate the relationship between language, cognition and culture. We use a variety of methods, including behavioral experiments (e.g., reading and listening studies, lexical priming experiments, dual-task experiments, individual differences studies), statistical modeling and corpus analyses. In collaboration with other labs we also use eye-tracking methods, event-related potentials (ERPs) and functional MRI. Below are the major lines of research and research questions pursued in the lab.

Informational constraints (the long-term memory system underlying language processing)
(1) What are the informational constraints that affect language processing?
(2) How are different kinds of information represented in the human mind?
(3) What is the time-course of the use of the different informational constraints?
(4) How does information from different informational constraints get combined in the course of on-line language processing?
(5) To what extent are the knowledge systems underlying language processing domain-specific?

The informational constraints we are currently investigating include:
(*) Syntactic information Lexical information Plausibility (world knowledge) information
(*) Prosodic information Contextual (discourse-level) information
(*) Information structure

Resource constraints (the working memory system underlying language processing)
(1) What is the nature of the resource constraints in language processing and what is the best way of quantifying them?
(2) Do the same resource constraints apply cross-linguistically?
(3) Do the same resource constraints apply in comprehension and production?
(4) To what extent is the working memory system underlying language processing domain-specific?

Language learning
(1) How do children learn to segment the linguistic input?
(2) How to children learn the mapping between sound strings and meaning?
(3) Are the mechanisms children use to learn a language domain-specific?

Language, cognition and culture
(1) How do cultural factors shape linguistic and other cognitive abilities?
(2) Is recursion a universal property of human syntactic knowledge?