New Psycholinguistics Lab Enables Faculty, Student Researchers

Testing and analyzing how we read and speak is easier with the Department of Linguistics and TESOL’s newest research tool, the psycholinguistics lab.

Located in Room 130 of Hammond Hall, the psycholinguistics lab houses five computer workstations, isolation areas and plenty of space for faculty and graduate students to conduct experiments. The lab’s open house will be Friday, March 25 at 3:30 p.m.

“Psycholinguistics is the study of the processes involved in the real-time production and comprehension of language,” said Dr. Jeff Witzel, Assistant Professor and director of the lab. “The main goal [of the lab] is to run experiments to understand how native- and non-native-speakers use their knowledge of language when they are speaking and comprehending. And we hope that this research will have some practical applications. For example, it will help us to develop best practices for language teaching and instructional materials.”

The lab features four stations for running experiments on DMDX, a software tool used to measure responses to visual and auditory stimuli. At these stations, Witzel said it is possible to run a range of experimental tasks, including lexical decision, word/picture naming, semantic categorization, moving-window self-paced reading, maze task self-paced reading, speeded grammaticality judgment, and sentence matching.

A separate station includes eye-tracking software that will allow researchers to study a test subject’s eye movement patterns. Witzel said this would enable linguists to examine where people look at a scene while listening to an audio recording or where the eye moves as the brain processes text on a screen.

Witzel said the new lab would make research easier for department faculty and graduate students. He also said as more students join the department through the recently establish bachelor’s degree, undergraduate projects can also be conducted in the new space.

Dr. Jeff Witzel led efforts to create a psycholinguistics lab for the Department of Linguistics and TESOL. (Pictures by James Dunning)

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