Welcome to the BU Psycholinguistics Laboratory website! We are exploring the idea that emotion is more important for all aspects of language than theorists have previously suggested. By measuring skin conductance responses (SCRs), our studies aim to provide quantifiable support for the idea that emotional ties play a significant role in language acquisition. Evidence supporting our hypothesis may provide answers to why people with Williams syndrome (high social connectedness) display fluent language skills in the face of severe mental retardation, while autistic people (low social connectedness) display low language skills. A powerpoint presentation on this topic is available. If you have questions regarding projects outside of emotional processing in language, please e-mail Prof. Caldwell-Harris or visit her office in PSY 123.




What is psycholinguistics?

While linguistics studies the structure of natural language, psycholinguistics studies how people process natural language. A review of previous research will show that humans have a propensity for language that is far greater than any other species. Some argue that the complexity of human language is a reflection of the human mind's vast cognitive ability, and many believe that language is special and interestingly different from any other cognitive function. Current research is beginning to show how language can interact with other cognitive domains as well as emotional processes.


What kind of topics are currently being addressed by the lab?

  • Bilingualism and emotional response
  • Two cultures, two languages -- bilingualism and cross-cultural psychology
  • How does lying in your first language differ from lying in your second language? (contact Norma Sanchez at normas@bu.edu)
  • Visual word recognition, conscious and uncionscious pattern recognition using event related potentials and behavioral studies
  • Different languages and rhetoric strategies in self-promotion: Would you write your job application differently if you had to write it in a language other than English?
  • Artificial intelligence strategies for building grammars based on corpora
  • Speech perception in noise
  • How do deaf children lean to read in English by learning English as a second language?

For projects outside of language, see Prof. Caldwell-Harris' website.


How do I get involved in psychology research?

Research opportunities include:

Directed Study | 2 or 4 credits. Obtain a directed study application from CAS advising room 105.

Volunteer | We request a committment of 2-6 hours per week.

Teaching Internship | Assist with lecture development (make powerpoint slides, review material to be presented).


If you would like to learn more about our lab, please contact Prof. Caldwell-Harris or visit us at the following address:

Boston University
64 Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215