me Brain and Language Lab:Research
My overarching research interest is in how the limitations and capabilities of our general cognitive and perceptual system shape what languages look like. To address this question, I use myriad cross-disciplinary methods including brain imaging, behavioral experiments, typological research, phonetic analysis, computational modeling and research into language acquisition. More details on each subjects are below.

For a chronological list of papers, please see publications or my CV.
Language & memory Exemplar phonetic models Perceptual biases and language acquisition
Memory & language Phonological opacity (Dissertation) Miscelani (vowel harmony, syntax, politics, etc.)

Language and Memory ^
In one line of research I explore how general cognitive capabilities, in particular different memory subsystems, support the acquisition and use of language. I have explored how procedural and declarative memory support the acquisition of complex phonology using both behavioral evidence and evidence from brain imaging. Our findings suggest specific ways in which the language faculty is supported by domain-general cognitive function and have implications for models of grammar, suggesting that brain regions beyond Broca's area are crucial. Future research will expand the empirical scope of this research by broadening the linguistic phenomena studied by looking at a broader range of languages and phonological processes. I will also explore how this research may improve second language acquisition and our understanding of first language acquisition.

Memory and Language ^
A second line of research considers the opposite question: How does language support memory? I have been exploring whether phonological complexity impacts working memory in children and in Veterans with traumatic brain injury. The results of our first study show that memory for object plurality is indeed impacted by the phonological complexity of the plural form in children at the age where they make pluralization errors in speech. This supports a (weak) form of linguistic relatively wherein language acts as a substrate of thought and memory.
In research with TBI patients, I have been exploring how hearing deficits due to TBI may contribute to working memory deficits.

Perceptual biases and language acquisition ^
In other research, I have explored the role of a perceptual universal - the sonority sequencing principle (SSP) - in word segmentation and child language acquisition.
In one study, we presented participants with an un-segmented stream of speech from a language with non-English word onset clusters with varying degrees of adherence to the SSP. Participants used the SSP in assessing wordhood even where English offers no indication of grammaticality (e.g. ✓nl vs. *ln). This suggests that learners may use the SSP as a cue for word segmentation absent language experience.
In other work with Jennifer Zapf, director of the UW-GB language learning lab, we have shown how the SSP can account for the variability in children’s production of the plural. Using a novel elicitation task, we found that children were more likely to correctly produce the plural form of a noun when it has a simple (vs. complex) coda and when that coda adhered to the SSP.

Exemplar-based models of phonetic categories ^
A set of experiments exploring the importance of exemplars, as contrasted with features, in cross-linguistic vowel discrimination. Exemplar models beg the question of where symmetry in language comes from, so I followed up with a computational simulation of agents communicating using exemplar-based production and categorization algorithms to model an emergent symmetrical vowel chain shift.

Phonological opacity ^
My dissertation, entitled "Input-Driven Opacity", written under the direction of Keith Johnson at UC Berkeley, addresses the phenomenon of phonological opacity, which I believe to be the most significant challenge to contemporary phonological theory. I suggest opacity motivates the need for abstraction in phonology using typological, experimental and theoretical evidence.

Miscelani ^