Laurel Ellen Brehm



There is more than one way to convey most ideas using language: almost any picture could be described in multiple ways (it's a couch/ sofa, vs I have the same one from Ikea, vs it's Mom's favorite place to sit), using multiple grammatical forms (the dog is being chased by the cat/ the cat chases the dog; the staff is/ are on strike). This means that speakers must juggle multiple possible representations while preparing to speak, and listeners must be able to expect more than one candidate utterance from a speaker. A lot of language use also occurs in the context of conversation, which means that one often needs to plan an utterance while simultaneously listening to an interlocutor. This means that in order to be resilient speakers and listeners, we must be able to simultaneously represent multiple ideas and multiple linguistic plans.

My research focuses on these questions in language production and comprehension. I examine how individuals integrate multiple candidate representations of meaning (words, ideas) and form (syntax, phonology) through time with support from cognitive mechanisms such as memory and attention.

Here are some questions I have worked on recently:

  • What do we mentally represent while listening and speaking in a single-task or in a conversational (dual-task) context?
  • How do speech errors reflect mental representations of meaning and structure?
  • How do listeners interpret errors or dialectically-driven variable forms?
  • What memory mechanisms does language recruit? (with Erini Zormpa )
  • How does attention to scenes or auditory cues impact speech planning? (with Jieying He )

In my teaching, I strive to balance content with practical skills: in order to properly use a skill (e.g., critical thinking, statistical analysis, experimental design), one needs to situate it in a context in which it is useful.  See below for some recent courses I have taught.

2019-- Mixed Effect Models. Co-Instructor (with Phillip Alday).
Radboud University Summer School

2019-- Critical Peer Review.  Co-Instructor (with Sonja Vernes).
Max Planck Institute / IMPRS

2019-- Data Visualization. Instructor.
Max Planck Institute / IMPRS


Selected materials from courses and one-off workshops appear on GitHub.

My own personal GitHub:

Work done with RLadies Nijmegen:


Cross-validation for model selection

Code from Brehm & Meyer (in prep): 'Distinguishing when more than what'.

Functions (.R)--- Vignette (.R)


Piecewise regression for determining category structure of predictors

See Brehm & Goldrick (2017) 'Distinguishing discrete and gradient category structure in language'


Functions (.R) --- Demo (.R)

R/Pantone Color Chart

A color chart of base R and Pantone named colors, ordered by hue and saturation:value, with hex and RGB codes.

Code to generate your own plot (.R) --- List of Pantone colors with hex and RGB values (.txt)


User-defined orthogonal code checker

An Excel document for checking whether user-defined contrast codes are orthogonal.

Link to Workbook (.xlsx)


Why do kids make certain types of speech errors?

A column for Babel magazine's "Ask A Linguist" feature. In English.

What are the tools we use for research on language production?

A YouTube video explaining how to 'see sound' (with spectrograms, obviously!). In Dutch.



Last updated 01 October 2019


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