Katja Stärk


I am a final-year PhD student in the Language Development Department. For my thesis, I am using corpus and experimental data to investigate statistical learning and word segmentation.



I am a psycholinguist primarily interested in cognitive linguistics. To answer my research questions, I am in favour of collaborating with experts from different disciplinary backgounds, applying a diverse set of methods, as well as following open science practices.

You can find more information about my PhD project as well as other projects below. Please do not hesitate to Katja.Staerk [at] mpi.nl (contact me) if you want to know more about them.


PhD Project

Tracking statistical learning of naturalistic input

Under supervision of Rebecca Frost and Evan Kidd

Humans excel at spotting patterns in their surroundings. One such pattern they can spot is the distributional information contained in language input. The mechanism used to draw on this information is called statistical learning. In my PhD project, I am investigating this mechanism in German. To do so, I am using language corpora to examine the distributional information in natural German as well as experiments to study infants’ and adults’ statistical learning. In these experiments, I am comparing different levels of naturalness of the input language to improve our understanding of the extent to which statistical learning contributes to language acquisition and processing.

☞ See the paper about word segmentation cues in German CDS here, with supplementary materials available on OSF here.


Other Projects

Acquiring the non-existence of a morphological rule

With Jenny Tippmann, Miriam Ebersberg, Andreas Opitz and Sonja Rossi

In languages with irregular verb forms the vowel of a verb might change in the past tense form, as in English sing-sang-sung. Interestingly, not all theoretically possible rules are applied in the languages we know. For example, no English verb follows the rule sing-sang-sing, i.e. a change of the vowel for the preterite but not for the participle. Adults show different EEG responses to correctly applied rules, incorrectly applied rules and non-existent rules applied. In this project, we are looking at the developmental trajectory of children acquiring the non-existence of a rule looking at 6-7 and 8-9 year olds’ EEG responses.

☞ See a poster about the project here.

The evolution of the diverse Uto-Aztecan numeral systems

With Andrea Bender

Uto-Aztecan languages are mostly spoken on the west coast of North and Central America. Even though all languages evolved from the same (linguistic) ancestor with a single numeral system, they show a vast diversity in numeral systems nowadays. In this project, we are gathering information about the individual number systems of the Uto-Aztecan languages and modelling when and how their number systems became so diverse.



Winter 2014/2015

"Repetitorium" for Grammar Theory and Linguistic Typology
MA Linguistics, University of Leipzig, Germany


Teaching Assistant

Winter 2012/2013 –

Logic for Linguists
BA Linguistics, University of Leipzig, Germany

Summer 2013 –

Formal Semantics
BA Linguistics, University of Leipzig, Germany




Since 09/2017

PhD Student
MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

10/2013 – 08/2016

M.A. Linguistics
University of Leipzig, Germany

10/2010 – 09/2013

B.A. Linguistics
University of Leipzig, Germany


Work Experience

04/2016 – 08/2017

Research Assistant / Associate
University of Bergen, Norway


☞ See my full CV here.

Find me elsewhere

   ‧    Google Scholar       ORCID       OSF       Github      

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