Associate Professor of Cognitive Science
Research interests: Co-speech gesture, pragmatics, embodied cognition, construction grammar, social cognition, attention.
Research summary: I study the psychological processes involved in producing and understanding language. My work is a bit non-traditional, though: I'm interested in the gestures people produce while they're speaking.
To understand why a language researcher might study gesture, it helps to know a couple of things. First of all, when people talk, they move their hands and arms around. Second, these motions are not just expressive (in the sense of adding emotional content to a person's speech). They have meaning that is very intricately connected to what the speaker is saying. In fact, the relationship between the information expressed by the two modalities (speech and gesture) is so close that many researchers believe gesture should be considered part of the language system. I study the relationship between gesture and speech because it's quite informative about a speaker's underlying mental representations--the thoughts she is encoding in language.
To learn more, visit the website for the Gesture and Cognition Lab
For more information, check out the slideshow presentation of our department: