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Language and Learning Group

Language and learning group image

The Language and Learning group carry out research on a wide range of issues in psycholinguistics, using both experimental and computational methods. Some of the key issues that we investigate include:

  • processing of visually presented words
  • computational modelling of visual word processing
  • production, comprehension, and development of gestures
  • big data analysis of language development and historical changes in language
  • acquisition of words and syntactic structures during infancy and childhood in both first and second languages
  • word meaning and lexical representation
  • phonological and syntactic-like capabilities in non-human animals
  • call acquisition in non-human animals

We have the state-of-the-art labs: infant testing facilities, an Eye Link 1000 eye tracker, PCs configured for tachistoscopic displays and a multi-modal interaction lab. We also conduct research at a number of wild field sites (Australia, South Africa, Uganda) and captive research facilities (within and outside the UK) where animal vocal behaviour can be studied observationally and experimentally.

We welcome PhD applications in all areas of language and learning

Key areas of research

Lexical Representation

This area combines empirical methods with computational modelling to investigate a range of questions. How are the meanings of words cognitively represented and used to interpret language? How do word meanings develop? How is ambiguity and vagueness in word meaning represented? Can cognitive linguistic descriptions be integrated with psycholinguistic models and generative representations?

Acquiring syntactic representations

We explore when and how children acquire syntactic representations and how their processing of syntax develops. We use syntactic priming methods to explore language production and eye tracking to explore sentence comprehension skills.

From print to sound

We investigate how readers use the information in a printed word to produce its sound, and how this contributes to meaning. Our approaches include tracking children as they develop, experimental interventions and computational simulations.

Gestures during speaking and thinking

We investigate gestures that are spontaneously produced during speaking and thinking. We investigate how gesture production and speech production influence each other, how speech and gesture are integrated during comprehension and how gesture and speech develop together during childhood.

Comparative Communication and Cognition

We are interested in the complexity underlying vocal communication and cognition in animals. By taking a broad comparative approach focusing on both primate, non-primate mammals and birds (chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, wolves, meerkats, pied babblers) we aim to unpack the similarities and differences between animal and human communication and ultimately understand how unique the human language faculty is and what selective conditions might have been responsible for its evolution.

Prediction in language, learning, and conversation

We use behavioural experiments and eye-tracking to understand how our brain’s ability to predict what is coming next supports language learning and use in conversation. We study both children and adults, and are interested in both native language acquisition and use and adult second language acquisition. Amongst the questions we ask are: how does prediction affect how quickly we can process incoming language? How does prediction support our ability to quickly take turns in conversation? What happens when our predictions turn out to be wrong? How do expectation violations affect memory for linguistic information? What role do curiosity and surprise play in language learning and how is this role related to our ability to predict?

Research Labs
Communication Development Labbear

Our research focus is the development of communication. We study children from birth up to the age of 16 to explore how humans acquire the skill to communicate across their lifetime. Our primary focus is how children learn language and gesture. We also study adults on occasion, either to use as a comparison point or to see how the communication development continues into adulthood.

Language Development Lab language dev lab

In the Language Development Lab at the University of Warwick we study how and when children's first language – their mother tongue - develops.

Specifically, we're interested in finding out how and when children learn to put words together to make sentences. By studying their ability to understand and say different types of sentences at different ages, we can learn more about the mysterious process of language development!

Cognitive Science of Reading Lab

Our research looks at the way people perceive information about the written word and retrieve information about the words that they see. Our methods involve focused laboratory experiments, statistical analyses of large databases, and computational modelling.


Group Members
Dr James Adelman Dr Suzanne Aussems
Dr Alex Clarke Dr Ed Donnellan
Dr Hester Duffy Dr Luke Duncan
Dr Olga Feher Dr Chiara Gambi
Dr Chiara De Gregorio Dr Thomas Hills
Professor Sotaro Kita Dr Adriano Lameira
Dr Matthew Mak Dr Michelle McGillion
Dr Kate Messenger Dr Ani Permana
Dr Simon Townsend Dr Tiziano Travain
Dr Leone Buckle
Aaron Cousins
Dr Slava Dantchev
Dr Katharina Helming
Dr Marta Wesierska
Associate Members in Other Departments

Dr Clay Beckner (Centre for Applied Linguistics)

Dr Richard Moore (Philosophy)

Dr Christopher Strelluf (Centre for Applied Linguistics)

Research Students
Teruni Ahamat Charlotte Gannon
Kirsty Green Ying Guo
Mingtong Li Shivani Patel
Melissa Reddy Noorin Rodenhurst
Yibai Zhu