Brain and Language Lab


Our broad goal is to understand the neurocognition of language and memory, both in healthy populations and in disorders. We are especially interested in how language learning, knowledge, and use depend on learning and memory systems in the brain – in particular the hippocampal-based declarative memory system and the basal ganglia-based procedural memory system. We refer to this posited dependence as the declarative/procedural model. We are also interested in how other domains rely on these systems, including music and math.

Much of our work focuses on the the neurocognition of first language, including morphology, syntax, and semantics; second language acquisition and bilingualism; learning and memory in general, independent of language; and individual differences in language and memory, as well as variation within individuals, as a function of factors such as sex, genetic variation, and endocrine fluctuations.

We also investigate language and memory in various disorders. Much of our research on neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., specific language impairment, dyslexia, autism, Tourette syndrome, and ADHD) examines the Procedural Deficit Hypothesis, which posits that abnormalities of brain structures underlying procedural memory can help explain a number of different disorders; we also examine whether declarative memory compensates for dysfunction in these disorders. Additionally, we investigate healthy aging and age-related disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, and aphasia.

Our work is increasingly applied, with the goal of improving the learning, knowledge, and use of language and other domains both in healthy individuals and those with brain dysfunction: see enhancement and therapy.

Finally, we carry out research on neurocognitive epidemiology, and the neurocognition of music, math, and reading.