Current Projects

Linguistic research into clinical and non-clinical aging will become increasingly relevant as the population ages and the incidence of dementia increases.

Van Boxtel, W.S. & Lawyer, L.A. (2021, p.2)

Postdoctoral Research: Implicit Structural Priming as a Treatment Component in Aphasia

Purdue Aphasia Lab (PI: Jiyeon Lee)

Impaired message-to-structure mapping is at the crux of the sentence processing difficulties that compromise the communication abilities of many persons with aphasia (PWA). As of yet, the few treatment options available for the mapping deficits involve explicit metacognitive training of sentence production and comprehension. These treatments have yielded generally consistent acquisition of trained sentences, but variable outcomes in terms of generalization and maintenance effects. Therefore, there remains a critical need to identify interventions that successfully improve mapping abilities in PWA. In this project, we introduce implicit structural priming as a novel facilitator for language recovery in aphasia.

PhD Thesis: A Matter of Memory? Sentence Comprehension in Healthy Aging.

ThesisOSF (Study 1)OSF (Study 2) OSF (Study 3)

Large amounts of past research have considered language to be among the many skills that decline with age, alongside memory, processing speed, and motor skills. Recent evidence, however, suggests this may not paint a full picture. My PhD thesis comprised three experiments aimed at uncovering more nuanced age-related changes with regards to language. I employ syntactic priming and relative clause disambiguation paradigms as well as neuroimaging methods to discover whether implicit, on-line language processing actually declines with age, or whether this is more a stereotype than anything real.

The Psychological Reality of Noun Classes in Kinyarwanda

To what extent are semantics and morphology ‘real’ inside one’s mind? Which of the two takes preference? Working alongisde Dr Kyle Jerro, Dr Laurel Lawyer, Dr Jean-Paul Ngoboka, and Fate O’Gara, I gathered data from the understudied language Kinyarwanda to investigate whether the Bantu noun class system, which is morphologically richer than Indo-European noun declension paradigms, has a psychologically real basis.

MA Thesis: the Volatile Bilingual Advantage

Some research suggests bilinguals are more efficient at some cognitive skills than monolinguals. This is one of the main controversies in bilingualism research, and my MA thesis (click here for a PDF) investigated this hypothesised ‘bilingual advantage’ using neuroimaging methods.