Individual differences in spoken word comprehension

Project #: 28
Name: Dan Mirman (; 215-553-7169)
Department: Psychology
Academic Area: Linguistics, Psychology

Title: Individual differences in spoken word comprehension

When we hear a word we need to immediately distinguish it from dozens of similar-sounding words and figure out how it fits with the message the speaker is trying to convey. This process happens very rapidly and seemingly without effort, but it requires orchestrating our perceptual and cognitive abilities with precision timing. In prior studies we have used eye-tracking to measure these very rapid perceptual and cognitive processes and unravel the very rapid time course of solving these difficult perceptual and cognitive challenges. In this project we will explore how differences between individuals affect these processes. Specifically, we will examine how factors like language history (do they speak another language besides English?), physiological condition (are they hungry?), and cognitive style (are they a "taxonomic thinker" or a "thematic thinker"?) affect the time course of spoken word comprehension.

Associated Independent Study:
The independent study project will consist of directed reading and discussion of background studies and preparation of materials for the research study, such as design of stimuli and assessments to measure individual differences.

Gained Experience:
The student will gain experience in the scientific study of perceptual and cognitive processes, including study design, data collection, and data analysis.

Journal article and pilot data for a grant proposal.

Helping with study design, data collection, and data analysis. Depending on progress, may also participate in writing up the results for publication.

Stratton Hall (32nd & Chestnut St.)

We will have a weekly 1-hour meeting to discuss progress and plan next steps. The scheduling of that meeting is flexible.

Interview Availability:
April 18,2014; April 21, 2014