CYNTHIA M. CONNINE
Professor of Psychology and Linguistics
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Post-doctoral fellowships: MIT (Speech Group), Indiana University (Speech Research Laboratory)
Area: Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Office: Science IV, Room 108
Visiting Professor, Hangzhou University, China Key Studies Development Project (PRC); Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands, University of Munster, Germany and University of Aachen, Germany (RWTH); Reviewer for over 25 professional journals; NSF and NIH Grant Review Panels.
Psycholinguistics (the intersection of psychology and linguistics), spoken word recognition, speech perception, phonological representations in reading, the relationship between lexical representations for spoken and written words, bi-lingual speech perception, non-literal language processing (idioms and metaphors), cross-language processing (Chinese, German, Spanish).Research Description:
Spoken language understanding is among the most sophisticated capabilities of the human brain – the physical signal (speech) is a transient event that the brain must encode in a very short period of time. In my lab, we investigate the process of recognizing words - the basic building block of spoken language understanding. Recognition of spoken words occurs against a backdrop of thousands of possible words (the average high school student knows about 60,000 words!) that might be spoken by speakers with different dialects or accents than your own (Do you speak American?). Our research focuses on the processes and representations that make this remarkable feat possible. Many of our research projects are informed by the distributional characteristics of spoken language by evaluating large corpora of spoken language conversations for patterns of word pronunciations across words and dialects. In the recent publications listed below, we have investigated questions such as: How do listeners recognize words spoken with a different accent than their own or as an infrequent pronunciation? How do listeners learn new pronunciations of a word, a new dialect or acquire language-specific properties of speech sounds? Does what you know about how a word is spelled important for recognizing the spoken form? In some of our work in collaboration with Albrecht Inhoff, we have investigated the related question of how knowing what a word sounds like influences reading and how representations developed during reading influence spoken language comprehension. In addition to these interests in word recognition, my laboratory has examined processing of non-literal language (metaphors and idioms) during language comprehension in both the auditory and visual (reading) domain.
Philosophy of Graduate Training:
Graduate students are immediately involved in on-going collaborative research projects as a means for introducing them to the issues, methods and joys of research on language processing. Students are also strongly encouraged to initiate independent projects in order to explore and develop their ideas. These combined experiences are intended to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills for academic and industry positions.
The laboratory typically accepts four undergraduate research assistants each year. Undergraduates who have worked in the lab have gone on to a variety of careers that have included additional graduate training in areas such as speech and hearing, cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, law school, and school psychology. If you are interested in getting involved in research in the lab, contact me in the spring semester for consideration for the following academic year. All students are welcome to apply but the lab is particularly suited for students whose academic interests include psychology and a language related discipline (linguistics, language studies, philosophy, computer science).
Some recent publications:
*Ranbom, L.R. & Connine, C.M. (2011). Silent letters are activated in spoken word recognition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26(2), 236-261. PDF (216 KB)
Connine, C.M. (2011). Spoken Word Recognition. In (P. Hogan, Ed.) Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Science. Cambridge University Press.
*Locasto, P.C. & Connine, C.M. (2011). Processing of no-release variants in connected speech. Language and Speech, 54(2), 181-197. PDF (283 KB)
*Pinnow, E. & Connine, C.M. (2014). Phonological variant recognition: Representations and rules. Language and Speech, 57(1), 42-67. PDF (198 KB)
Pinnow, E., Connine, C.M. & Ranbom. L.J. Processing pronunciation variants: The role of probabilistic knowledge about lexical form and segmental co-occurrence.
* indicates graduate student co-author
Please see her Google Scholar Page for a more complete listing of publications for Dr. Connine.