People / Faculty

Edward Gibson

Edward Gibson, Ph.D.
Professor of Cognitive Sciences

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Building: 46-3035
Lab: Gibson Lab

Human Language Processing

Research in the Gibson Lab (a.k.a. TedLab) is aimed at investigating how people learn, represent and process language.  In addition, we have recently started to investigate the relationship between language, cognition and culture.

We use a variety of methods, including behavioral experiments (e.g., reading and listening studies, lexical priming experiments, dual-task experiments, individual differences studies), statistical modeling and corpus analyses.  In collaboration with other labs we also use eye-tracking methods, event-related potentials (ERPs) and functional MRI.

Below are the major lines of research and research questions pursued in the lab.

Informational constraints
(the long-term memory system underlying language processing)

  1. What are the informational constraints that affect language processing?
  2. How are different kinds of information represented in the human mind?
  3. What is the time-course of the use of the different informational constraints?
  4. How does information from different informational constraints get combined in the course of on-line language processing?
  5. To what extent are the knowledge systems underlying language processing domain-specific?

The informational constraints we are currently investigating include:

  • Syntactic information
  • Lexical information
  • Plausibility (world knowledge) information
  • Prosodic information
  • Contextual (discourse-level) information
  • Information structure

Resource constraints
(the working memory system underlying language processing)

  1. What is the nature of the resource constraints in language processing and what is the best way of quantifying them?
  2. Do the same resource constraints apply cross-linguistically?
  3. Do the same resource constraints apply in comprehension and production?
  4. To what extent is the working memory system underlying language processing domain-specific?

Language learning: How do children learn to segment the linguistic input?

  1. How to children learn the mapping between sound strings and meaning?
  2. Are the mechanisms children use to learn a language domain-specific?

Language, cognition and culture

  1. How do cultural factors shape linguistic and other cognitive abilities?
  2. Is recursion a universal property of human syntactic knowledge?


Gibson E, Fedorenko E. Weak quantitative standards in linguistics research. Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 Apr 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Tily H, Fedorenko E, Gibson E. The time-course of lexical and structural processes in sentence comprehension. Q J Exp Psychol (Colchester). 2010 May;63(5):910-27. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Fedorenko E, Patel A, Casasanto D, Winawer J, Gibson E. Structural integration in language and music: evidence for a shared system. Mem Cognit. 2009 Jan;37(1):1-9.

Frank MC, Everett DL, Fedorenko E, Gibson E. Number as a cognitive technology: evidence from Pirahã language and cognition. Cognition. 2008 Sep;108(3):819-24. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Additional Publications