Professor Laura Feldman

Improving the ‘DIANA’ model of spoken word recognition
April - May 2017, and January 2018

FeldmanWho is Laura Feldman?

Laura Beth Feldman is a cognitive psychologist interested in language. She received her PhD in Language and Psychology at the University of Connecticut (USA). Subsequently, she became a senior research scientist at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven and The University at Albany (USA). The major focus of her research is how people recognize words formed from several meaningful units or morphemes such as MIS+UNDERSTAND+ABLE. She has worked as a visiting researcher at the University of Belgrade and the National Academy of Sciences (Yugoslavia), at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and at Beijing Normal University (China). At Radboud University, she is hosted by Prof Mirjam Ernestus at the Centre for Language Studies (CLS).

What is her research project about?

Researchers at Radboud University’s Centre for Language Studies have developed a model of spoken word recognition, called DIANA, that accommodates the most recent insights into human acoustic processing and spoken word recognition. This model is unique because it both takes the actual acoustic signal as input and simulates human participants’ behavior in several types of psycholinguistic tasks and experimental contexts. DIANA is very well able to simulate human participants' behaviour in psycholinguistic experiments with morphologically simple words (like dog, nice, house), but not with morphologically complex words (like dogs, nicer, legislation, house door). The goal of Feldman’s visit to Nijmegen is to assist in augmenting DIANA such that it well simulates how native listeners process such complex words. Furthermore, the collaboration will have implications for theories of spoken word recognition and models of the mental lexicon in general.

Why Radboud University?

Professor Mirjam Ernestus, her host in Nijmegen, says there is no one who could do this project as well as Professor Laurie Feldman, because of her expertise in morphological processing and her experience with all kinds of psycholinguistic experimental paradigms. Furthermore, the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) is an excellent research institute, but it lacks expertise in morphological processing. Therefore, Professor Feldman's presence is an asset to the whole centre. According to Ernestus, this is especially so because Feldman has expressed the wish to interact with many people from the CLS.