Psychological and Brain Sciences Colloquium: Emily Myers, University of Connecticut
Sep 22, 2022
340 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52240
Psychological and Brain Sciences Colloquium
Emily Myers, Professor, Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, University of Connecticut
Varieties of Language Experience
Canonical views of language development have assumed that “typical” learners arrive at adulthood with essentially the same shared language architecture for a given language. Yet since the beginning of psycholinguistic research, it has been obvious that adult language users show substantial variability in aspects of language behavior, for instance in non-native sound learning, perception of speech in noise, and in vocal imitation. The task of separating measurement noise from meaningful variation in language skills can be daunting, but an ideal model of the language would capture the individual differences in underlying domain-general skills and traits (perception, motor ability, memory), as well as potentially language-specific processing strategies. In this talk, I will discuss some of the methodological challenges of doing individual differences work in language, and report on a collection of studies that demonstrate the diversity of language abilities and processing strategies, and will attempt to account for this variation by appealing to differences in some component skills supporting language (some of which can be traced to individual differences in brain structure.) This work points to the need for models of language production and comprehension that can capture the varieties of language experience and use, with the goal of better understanding of the spectrum of language abilities.
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