This proposal requests continued support for an interdisciplinary predoctoral and postdoctoral training program in the Language Sciences. The training program, coordinated by the Center for Language Sciences, includes 14 faculty from the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (6), Computer Science (3), Linguistics (4), and Social and Clinical Psychology (1). These core faculty provide an unusually rich and comprehensive coverage of natural language processing and acquisition. Faculty expertise spans formal linguistic, behavioral, computational, and cognitive neuroscience approaches, providing trainees with diverse methodological tools and an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of natural language. Major program research themes include real-time language processing and the acquisition of spoken and signed languages. We have attracted outstanding students to study these topics and have placed them in faculty positions at top universities. In the next grant period we will increase research training on an addition- al theme: language processing and acquisition in populations with altered communicative abilities, including deaf individuals, individuals with autism, and patients with neurological disease. Such training will provide our students with a broadened perspective on natural language and will permit them to apply cutting-edge techniques to the study of language when linguistic input or biological underpinnings are altered. Support is requested for five predoctoral and three postdoctoral trainees who will be trained in the interdisciplinary language sciences. Predoctoral trainees will have Brain and Cognitive Sciences or Computer Science as their home department, with training in these fields and in Linguistics;postdoctoral trainees will have their home in any of the three departments. All trainees will take a structured set of core courses, proseminars in the language sciences and in translational research, and will acquire expertise in at least two methodological approaches. Students will also be closely mentored in research on the mechanisms underlying language processing and acquisition, and will have new opportunities to discover how these findings can be used to study, and potentially improve, communicative disorders.
Language is a central feature of human intelligence and is maintained under a wide variety of circumstances, including even profound deafness (when many individuals will develop signed rather than spoken languages). Our program trains students to conduct research on spoken and sign language processing, and to understand - and ultimately develop adaptations or treatments for - communication disorders.
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