Reading and Memory Lab
Have you ever wondered how different patterns of the same 26 letters can lead us to imagine oceans, mountains and foreign lands, cry or laugh, or remember the tune of a song we haven’t heard for years? Or how the inclusion of a period used at the end of your friend’s text (Yup.) made you know she was angry at you? In the Reading & Memory lab, we investigate the mental processes involved in reading. Although understanding language often seems so effortless, the cognitive processes involved in translating the squiggles on the page into rich meaning is one of the most complex things that the mind can do.
The experiments we run in the lab involve having research participants read short stories. We use a number of behavioral measures to unlock the processes of the mind. For example, we might examine readers’ answers to questions about a story they have read to understand the assumptions they are making or how different aspects of the story change their mental image.
A research participant in one of our experiments is asked to read short narratives, usually on a computer monitor. Often the participants are then asked to answer some questions about what they have read. That’s it! Our experiments usually take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete. There are no risks to participants beyond those in their daily lives, and we hope that participants feel gratified that they have contributed to what we know about the psychology of language.
- A brief interview with Harpur College Dean Celia Klin, the principal investigator of the lab, on NPR, discussing a study about how punctuation is understood in text messages.