Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 1: Language and Communication

Sound Learning

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and BehaviourOur group seeks to understand how humans learn and process the building blocks of language: its sounds and words.
How do children become and remain such expert listeners in their native language, and why is listening and speaking often so much harder in a nonnative language? How are words learned, remembered, recognized and produced in first and second languages? A key concept that we investigate is plasticity in speech processing: As listeners, we are continuously tuning in to speech (e.g. to the characteristics of individual talkers and to the demands of different listening contexts), and we go on learning new words throughout our lives.
Research in the group bridges across disciplines: cognitive psychology, linguistics, phonetics, neuroscience, and educational science. We use behavioral, neuroscientific and computational approaches to examine language processing in adults and children. We ask how learning about speech supports the primary language skills: speaking and listening. We also seek ways to apply knowledge about how sounds and words are learned in native and nonnative language to improve language education (e.g. learning nonnative speech sounds, literacy education).

Name: James McQueen
Telephone: 024-3612608
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognition
Thomas van Aquinostraat 4
6525 GD Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognition
P.O. Box 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key grants and prizes
  • Research Grant (Co-PI with Janet van Hell) provided by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO); Brain and Cognition program. Title: Magic moments in word learning: Memory formation and consolidation across ages and language settings
  • Research Grant (Co-PI with Peter Desain) provided by the Dutch Technology Foundation (STW). Title: Ear opener: Learning auditory categories by means of brain signals
Key publications
  • Norris, D., & McQueen, J. M. (2008). Shortlist B: A Bayesian model of continuous speech recognition. Psychological Review, 115(2), 357-395. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.115.2.357
  • Bakker, I., Takashima, A., van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). Competition from unseen or unheard novel words: Lexical consolidation across modalities. Journal of Memory and Language, 73, 116-139. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2014.03.002.
  • Weber, A., Di Betta, A. M., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). Treack or trit: Adaptation to genuine and arbitrary foreign accents by monolingual and bilingual listeners. Journal of Phonetics, 46, 34-51. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.05.002.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Eisner, F., & Hagoort, P. (2017). Individual variability as a window on production-perception interactions in speech motor control. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(4), 2007-2018. doi:10.1121/1.5006899.
  • Schuerman, W. L., Nagarajan, S., McQueen, J. M., & Houde, J. (2017). Sensorimotor adaptation affects perceptual compensation for coarticulation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141(4), 2693-2704. doi:10.1121/1.4979791.
  • Viebahn, M., Ernestus, M., & McQueen, J. M. (2017). Speaking style influences the brain’s electrophysiological response to grammatical errors in speech comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(7), 1132-1146. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01095.
Mitterer, H., Reinisch, E., & McQueen, J. M. (2018). Allophones, not phonemes in spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 98, 77-92. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2017.09.005.

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Theme 1:
Language and Communication

Research Group
Sound Learning

Principal Investigator
Prof. James M. McQueen

Group members

Dr. Willemijn Doedens
Dr. Clara Ekerdt
Dr. Willeke Menks
Dr. Makiko Sadakata
Dr. Atsuko Takashima

Bohan Dai
Arushi Garg
Anne Mickan
Giulio Severijnen
Monica Wagner

Research Assistants
Carlo Rooth
Romy Verhoeven