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Consequences of predictive language processing for learning and memory

   School of Psychology

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Language arrives at a rate of 150-300 words per minute: a rapid input stream that needs to be decoded at high speed. There is now an emerging consensus that the input is to some extent predictable, and that the brain generates predictions about likely upcoming input, which may provide a head start on processing. But beyond processing, does prediction play a functional role in learning and memory?

A PhD project in this area will focus on downstream consequences of predictive language processing for learning and memory. Does prediction influence the words and sentences that comprehenders ultimately retain in memory? Do predictions play a role in learning novel word meanings from context? When predictions are disconfirmed, are they updated using error-based learning?

Available methods to address these questions include electrophysiology (EEG) and visual world eye-tracking to track unfolding predictions with millisecond temporal resolution, as well as behavioral experimentation to assess subsequent memory and learning. The findings are expected to improve our understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of prediction in language processing.

Students should have a university degree in Psychology, Linguistics, Cognitive Neuroscience or a related field, and a demonstrable interest in language processing. Experience with EEG or eye-tracking is desirable but not necessary.

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding.
• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form
When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:


Rommers, J., Dickson, D. S., Norton, J. J. S., Wlotko, E. W., & Federmeier, K. D. (2017). Alpha and theta band dynamics related to sentential constraint and word expectancy. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(5), 576-589.
Rommers, J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2018). Predictability's aftermath: Downstream consequences of word predictability as revealed by repetition effects. Cortex, 101, 16-30.
Rommers, J., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2015). Verbal and nonverbal predictors of language-mediated anticipatory eye movements. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 77(3), 720-730.

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