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Durgesh Rajandiran

Lab Manager

durgeshrajan@fas.harvard.edu

Tanya Zhuravleva

Tanya Zhuravleva

7th Year PhD Student

Every sentence that we hear and understand requires us to integrate information from a wide variety of sources: from the words, the grammar, the intonation, the context, etc. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that make this possible and their development across the lifespan by studying online sentence processing. My current work focuses on the role of executive functioning in online ambiguity resolution.

Jayden Ziegler

Jayden Ziegler

5th Year PhD Student

Website

Language is a complex system of concrete percepts (i.e., the speech stream) and abstract representations (e.g., semantics, syntax, phonology, pragmatics). I am particularly interested in characterizing the semantic and syntactic representations of language, including how they’re structured, the mappings between them, and how these mappings get formed over the course of language acquisition and conceptual development.

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Joseph Coffey

2nd Year PhD Student

In order to learn language quickly and efficiently, children must be able to take advantage of the learning opportunities that are available in their surroundings. Because these opportunities vary greatly across households, communities, and cultures, children need to be flexible and adaptive in how they learn from those around them. My research investigates how the kinds of input children encounter shape the ways they learn from others, as well as how that input is affected by the values and beliefs of their caregivers and communities.

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Anthony Yacovone

2nd Year PhD Student
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Simge Topaloğlu

1st Year PhD Student

My research focuses on the acquisition of semantics, specifically on how young children converge on an adult-like interpretation of sentences with complex semantic content. I am also interested in finding out whether and how children are able to integrate multiple sources of linguistic information (prosody, pragmatics, etc.) to comprehend sentences.

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Maggie Kandel

1st Year PhD Student

I am interested in studying language acquisition as a way to investigate the fundamental properties of human language as well as the mechanisms responsible for language comprehension and production.

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Annemarie Kocab

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Website

A unique property of the human mind is that it is capable of creating and acquiring languages. All groups of people have symbolic systems capable of expressing complex events and beliefs about the words, their past experiences, and their future aspirations. No other animal has a communication system with the scope and complexity of human languages, and no other animal can acquire such as system as readily as we do. What properties of the human mind give rise to language? How does the structure of language reflect the structure of the mind? What role do social interactions play in the emergence of language? I explore these questions by studying an emerging language, Nicaraguan Sign Language. I also look at parallel questions using language creation paradigms with children and adults in the laboratory.

Melissa Kline

Melissa Kline

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Website

My research focuses on the relationships between cognitive development and language acquisition, asking how pre- or non-linguistic concepts like causation, agency and physical space are mapped to language. Much of my developmental work focuses on how young children make inferences about the exact meaning of a novel verb (in a familiar sentence structure), in contexts where we know something about how they interpret the particular events shown. I also do both behavioral and imaging work with adults to understand how these conceptual structures are implemented once children have successfully learned the structures and mappings of their native language. The ultimate goal is to understand how how we are able to move structured models of the world into language, in such a way that a listener can ‘decode’ the language they hear to recover just the right cognitive models themselves.