The Human Language Processing (HLP/Jaeger) Lab in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester is looking for PhD researchers to join the lab. Admission is through the PhD program in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, which offers full five-year scholarship. International applications are welcome.
Author Archive for Florian Jaeger
Tags: adaptation, artificial language learning, functionalism, funding, graduate program, graduate studies, implicit learning, inference, language chance, Language production, lexical production, phd, phonetic adaptation, phonological encoding, psycholinguistics, recruiting, sentence processing, sentence production, speech perception, syntactic priming, typology, uniform information density
The University of Rochester has recently announced a Big Data initiative. As part of this initiative, there will be a large number of faculty openings over the next few years, including potential hires in computational linguistics, computational neuroscience, computational psycholinguistics, etc. The first tenure-track positions are now posted. Have a look at this list of departments and areas in which we are searching. Please spread the word.
Let me know if you have questions about these searches. If you’re a language researcher, make sure to check out the list of language faculty at Rochester (the beautiful mixture of hospital and vomit colors is about to be replaced by something more post 20th-century).
After many years of data collection, translation, annotation, and analysis, our first longer paper based on our field-based studies of language production in Yucatec Maya is about to appear in print:
- Butler, L. K., Bohnemeyer, J. B., and Jaeger, T. F. to appear. Plural marking in Yucatec Maya at the syntax-processing interface. In Machicao y Priemer, A., Nolda, A. & Sioupi, A. (eds.) Zwischen Kern und Peripherie (Studia Grammatica, volume 75). Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.
The paper discusses speakers’ production preferences in optional plural-marking on nouns and verbs in Yucatec. Yucatec plural-marking is typologically interesting in that there seem to be environments in which plural-marking on either or even both the noun and verb can be omitted without loss of plural meaning.
Lindsay Butler’s thesis (at the University of Arizona) focused on the syntactic theory behind optional plural-marking in Yucatec and what it tells us about the typology of plural-marking. If you’re interested in this topic, you might also find the following article of interest, which provides a broader introduction to the relevant grammatical constraints in Yucatec plural-marking. I will add links soon, but in the meantime feel to ask for a copy:
- Bohnemeyer, J. B., Butler, L. K., and Jaeger, T. F. submitted. Head-marking and agreement: Evidence from Yucatec Maya.
Time for another update on the growing/shrinking HLP Lab. With great sadness we think of those days when the Degenkind and Mr. Fine roamed freely in The Halls of Meliora.
- Alex Fine has left us to more fully embrace his inner Midwest. He accepted a post-doc on an NIH training grant in Psychology, Illinois with Sarah Brown-Schmidt, Duane Watson, and Gary Dell.
- Judith Degen now enjoys Californian bliss on a post-doctoral fellowship by the Swiss National Science Foundation. She’ll be working with Noah Goodman and bring even more experimental pragmatic awesomeness to Stanford.
This loss is ameliorated by a few new additions to HLP Lab. We’re excited to welcome Scott and Job this year (and hope that Geertje will just shown up one day and demand her bike back):
- Scott Fraundorf is joining HLP Lab as a post-doctoral researcher to work on implicit learning during syntactic processing and the acquisition of new syntactic structures in native speaker adults. His projects also include studies on how dialect background affects syntactic processing.
- Job Schepens won a Fulbright fellowship to visit HLP Lab in the Spring of 2014. His project “Learning Additional Phonemes: A Phonological Account of L2 Learnability” will be focusing on bi-/multilingualism and how structural similarities across languages (and differences in their complexity) affect ease of acquisition.
Tags: adaptation, Alex Fine, belief-updating, Dave Kleinschmidt, expectation adaptation, expectation-based processing, language processing, language understanding, non-stationarity, psycholinguistics, reading, Richard Aslin, self-paced reading, sentence processing, stationarity, syntactic adaptation, syntactic priming, Thomas Farmer, Ting Qian, variability
At long last, Alex Fine‘s paper on syntactic adaptation expectation is about to appear in PLOS One. You can download the pre-proof from our academia.edu page (the final version will be linked there as soon as it’s available):
- Fine, A. B., Jaeger, T. F., Farmer, T. , and Qian, T. 2013. Rapid expectation adaptation during syntactic comprehension. PLoS One.
The paper presents a novel framework that ties together syntactic comprehension and implicit learning. We tie together work on expectation-based sentence understanding, syntactic priming in comprehension, statistical learning, and speaker-specificity in syntactic comprehension.In two self-paced reading studies, we show that readers rapidly adjust their expectations for specific syntactic structures to converge on the statistics of the current environment. They do so based on both previous experience and recent experience within the experiment. Continue reading ‘Syntactic expectation adaptation (update your beliefs!)’
I thought this was worth reposting from ling-R-lang: Sven Hohenstein from the University of Potsdam prepared this script to obtain CIs for, e.g., bar charts from lmer() output. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like it will be useful.
Tags: analogical reasoning, Bayesian, frequency, idioms, implicit schemata, language change, linguistic representations, linguistic theory, linguistics, memory-based language processing, mergers, multi-word sequences, naive discriminative learning, parsimony, psycholinguistics, redundancy, Tree substitution grammars, usage-based models
It’s almost done! After about two years of work, our Special Issue on Parsimony and Redundancy in Models of Language (Wiechmann, Kerz, Snider & Jaeger 2013) is about to come out in Language and Speech, Vol 56(3). The brunt of the editorial work in putting this together was mastered by Daniel Wiechman, who just started his new position at the University of Amsterdam, and Elma Kerz, in the Department of Anglistik at the University of Aachen.
I am excited about this Special Issue, which –I think– brings together a variety of positions on representational redundancy and parsimony in linguistic theory building as well as the role of redundancy in the development of language over time. Some contributions discuss different computational and representational architectures, other contributions test these theories or investigate specific assumptions about the nature of linguistic representations. Continue reading ‘Our Special Issue is coming out: Parsimony and Redundancy in Models of Language’
In Jaeger and Snider (2013) we wrongly summarized one aspect of the experiments conducted by Bernolet and Harsuiker (2010) on syntactic priming in the Dutch ditransitive alternation. This does not affect the validity of argument, but should nevertheless be noted.
On p. 71-72, we wrote:
… Bernolet and Hartsuiker investigate the effect of prime surprisal in the Dutch dative alternation. They find stronger priming for more surprising DO primes, but no such effect for PO primes. As a matter of fact, Bernolet and Hartsuiker do not observe any priming for PO primes.
While the first statement about their experiment is correct, the second statement is wrong. Although Bernolet and Hartsuiker observed stronger priming effects for DOs than POs in Dutch, the effects reached significance for both DO and PO primes. This result still goes with the point we were making (that it’s harder to detect error-sensitivity of syntactic priming for structures that exhibit only small syntactic priming effects to begin with). We are sorry for this mistake and appreciate that Sarah (Bernolet) caught it!
- Jaeger, T. F. and Snider, N. (2013). Alignment as a consequence of expectation adaptation: syntactic priming is affected by the prime’s prediction error given both prior and recent experience. Cognition 127(1), 57–83. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2012.10.013.
- Bernolet, S., & Hartsuiker, R. J. (2010). Does verb bias modulate syntactic priming ? Cognition, 114, 455–461. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.11.005
It’s my great pleasure to announce to the world (i.e., all 4 subscribed readers to this blog) that Alex B. Fine successfully defended his thesis entitled “Prediction, Error, and Adaptation During Online Sentence Comprehension” jointly advised by Jeff Runner and me. Alex is the first HLP lab graduate (who started his graduate studies in the lab), so we gave him a very proper send-off and roasted the heck out of him. Alex will be starting his post-doc at the University of Illinois Psychology Department in June, working with Gary Dell, Sarah Brown-Schmidt, and Duane Watson.
It’s great to be able to announce that the Center of Language Sciences at the University of Rochester is about to grow. Two new faculty, Steven Piantadosi and Celeste Kidd, will join our Brain and Cognitive Science department, starting in the Summer of 2014. Chances are you know both of them, but here’s a short intro.
Celeste’s research focuses on decision making, attention, and language development in infants and children. Her recent work includes research on the trade-off between too much and too little information/surprisal in learning and how infants seem to be striving for a middle ground (the ‘Goldilocks effect’). She also recently revisited the well-known marshmallow study, putting an intriguing new twist on it: her study suggests that kids can prioritize long-term over short-term rewards, if they have evidence that the long-term rewards will reliably be delivered (see the paper).
Steven’s research focuses on probabilistic inference to learn and process language. His thesis investigated probabilistic models of semantic acquisition — how complex thoughts are acquired through composition out of simpler thought elements (thesis). He has also authored several beautiful papers on how communicative pressures (formalized in terms of information theory and probabilistic inference) are cross-linguistically reflected in the phonological structure of the mental lexicon. Another line of his research focuses on recursion – see, for example, his recent work on recursion in Piraha (talk).
Together they won the 2010 Computational Modeling Prize (Perception/Action) of the Cognitive Science Society.
This is federal funds well-spent: after the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, Daniel Pontillo reaches out to the broader public and explains –to a captive audience of night owls at packed IHOP– how eye-tracking data allows us to test how we process the world (the poster is on implicit naming, or rather the lack thereof, in visual world experiments). The presentation was a resounding success. One member of an underrepresented minority was likely recruited for a research career in the cognitive sciences. A brawl that later ensued on the same premises stands in no relation to this presentation, in which only waffles were harmed. Science never stops. We are grateful for all feedback received from IHOPers during the poster presentation.
(Disclaimer: federal funds were only used to print the poster, which was first presented at the Sentence Processing Conference.)
An academic minute about Masha Fedzechkina’s work on the existence of a bias for efficient information transfer during language acquisition just came out — you can listen to it here.
The work described in the minute appeared as:
Fedzechkina, M., Jaeger, T.F. & Newport, E. (2012). Language learners restructure their input to facilitate efficient communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109 (44): 17897—17902.
[paper (DOI)] [BibTeX]
Unfortunately, they did not mention the team members (contrary to what I was assured). The lead author, Masha Fedzechkina, is a fourth year graduate student in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. The work was jointly advised by Elissa Newport (the director of the new Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University) and me.
We invite original and unpublished papers on psycholinguistic research on lesser-studied languages, for a special issue of Language and Cognitive Processes. Our purpose is to bring together researchers who are currently engaged in empirical research on language processing in typologically diverse languages, in order to establish the emerging field of cross-linguistic psycholinguistics as a cross-disciplinary research program. Both submissions that extend the empirical coverage of psycholinguistic theories (e.g., test whether supposedly universal processing mechanisms hold cross-linguistically) and submissions that revise and extend psycholinguistic and linguistic theory through quantitative data are welcome. The special issue will focus on the architecture and mechanisms underlying language processing (both comprehension and production) at the lexical and sentence level. This includes studies on phonological and morphological processing to the extent that they speak to the organization, representation, and processing of lexical units or the interaction of these processes with sentence processing. We seek behavioral, neurocognitive (e.g., ERP, fMRI), and quantitative corpus studies in any of these areas.
Effects of phonological overlap on fluency, speech rate, and word order in unscripted sentence production
The last two papers based on Katrina Furth’s and Caitie Hilliard’s work back when they were at Rochester just came out in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition and the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
The JEP:LMC paper investigates how lemma selection (i.e., word choice) is affected by phonological overlap. We find evidence for a (weak) bias against sequences of phonologically onset overlapping words. That is, when speakers have a choice, they seem to prefer sentences like “Hannah gave the hammer to the boy”, rather than “Hannah handed the hammer to the boy”. This suggests very early effects of phonology on lexical production, which seem to be incompatible with strictly serial models of word production.
Jaeger, T. F., Furth, K., and Hilliard, C. 2012. Phonological overlap affects lexical selection during sentence production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(5), 1439-1449. [doi: 10.1037/a0027862]
The Frontiers paper investigates Continue reading ‘Effects of phonological overlap on fluency, speech rate, and word order in unscripted sentence production’
Congratulations to Masha Fedzechkina on her article on a bias for efficient information transfer during language learning that has just appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (link to article).
Here’s some news coverage
- Thanks to the extended podcast coverage by the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, which present an interesting take on our study (a couple of details about ambiguity vs. uncertainty are a bit off, but the general message is captured well). Have a look at minutes 13:30 to 22:02. Thanks to Nick Kloehn for making us aware of this piece.
- www.eurekalert.org (e.g., here).
- Check out an extended article on ScienceOmega (Language learning balances clarity and effort)
- Universities at which the research was conducted:
- University of Rochester (Language is shaped by brain’s desire for clarity and ease)
- Georgetown University (PNAS Study: Language Structure Arises from Balance of Clear and Effective Communication).
- Blogs and more: Futurity, Phys.org, ScienceBlog, Science Daily, E-Science News , Sify, TruthDive , BioSpace
More to come soon.
Errata: We are sorry that in our paper we forgot to acknowledge the help of three undergraduate research assistants, Andy Wood, Irene Minkina, and Cassandra Donatelli, in preparing the video animations used during our artificial language learning task.