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New Post-Doc: Yingying Tan

In psycholinguistic research, one of the major questions concerns the nature of the memory mechanisms underlying sentence processing. A number of previous works have highlighted the important role that working memory (WM) and executive control play in language processing. However, no final conclusion about the nature of this relationship has been reached, such as whether there is a unitary WM system or one that contains multiple components and if there are multiple components, whether there are different memory capacities (e.g. phonological, semantic, syntactic) specific to language processing, or whether, instead, individual differences in language processing derive from variation in executive control ability or linguistic experience.
New Post-Doc: Yingying Tan

My primary research interests are in investigating the relations among WM, executive control, and sentence comprehension. In my previous works, I looked into this question through an individual differences approach, a computational modeling approach, neuropsychological studies and by using electroencephalography (EEG). Generally, the results from my studies demonstrated that participants’ syntactic processing ability was predicted by a general WM or executive control capacity, while semantic processing ability was related to their semantic short-term memory (STM) capacity, even after controlling for their linguistic experience. However, phonological STM was not related to either semantic or syntactic aspect of online sentence processing. These findings are consistent with the idea that syntactic and semantic processing are relative dissociable, and may be supported by different cognitive mechanisms. In my post-doc research, I will continue investigating the nature of WM/executive control mechanism underlying language processing, such as further pinning down the specific component(s) of WM or executive control that are crucial for language processing and examine how and when multiple levels of sentence processing are regulated by these cognitive mechanisms, through behavioral, drug administration, and neuroimaging methods. The better understanding of the memory-language relation will enhance our knowledge about the neurobiology of language.

Neurobiology of Language

What is the neurobiological infrastructure for the uniquely human capacity for language? The focus of the Neurobiology of Language Department is on the study of language production, language comprehension, and language acquisition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Read more...

Director: Peter Hagoort

Secretary: Carolin Lorenz


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