Humans are extremely good at understanding sentences, even very complex ones which they have never heard or read before. We understand thousands of sentences every day, and we do so quickly, effortlessly, and more often than not, correctly. How do we achieve this tremendous feat?

In the Sentence Processing Lab, we study the mechanisms which enable people to understand language in real time. We investigate questions such as how readers and listeners use syntactic structures to extract meaning, how they create dependencies between distant elements in the sentence and beyond, and how they use lexical and structural prediction to anticipate upcoming material. A major objective of our research is to understand the processing strategies of Hebrew comprehenders, and the ways in which they are shaped by the grammar of the language. 

We use a variety of methods: self-paced reading, event-related potentials (ERPs), priming, acceptability judgements, and more.

Here are some of the projects that we are currently working on:

  • Maintenance and retrieval in the processing of filler-gap dependencies: The view from a language with grammaticized resumption (Israel Science Foundation Grant)

In this research we aim to unravel how comprehenders resolve long-distance syntactic dependencies, and specifically what cues are used to retrieve memory traces during this process. 

  • Feature maintenance and feature-driven integration in the processing of syntactic dependencies (German Israel Foundation Young Scientists Grant)

In this research, we ask what information is actively maintained during the processing of long-distance syntactic dependencies, and examine whether dependency resolution is triggered by maintained information.

  • Remote sensing of negative mood tendencies and enhancing resilience in the general population (Joy Ventures Grant, in collaboration with Dr. Tom Schonberg and Dr. Jonathan Berant)

In this collaboration with researchers from the Neurobiology and Computer Science departments at TAU, we aim to adopt a computational approach to assess emotions via reading patterns, and then enhance personal resilience from depression in the general population.

  • Cognitive factors in the transmission of the Qumran scrolls: Evidence from eye-tracking (Goldstein-Goren Center for Mind and Language (MILA) Grant, in collaboration with Prof. Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg and Prof. Noam Mizrahi)

In this collaborative research we investigate textual variants in the Great Isaiah Scroll to determine whether they can be attributed to cognitive processes known to affect reading, writing and copying.