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Research Overview

Our research...

Peer-reviewed Papers

Huebner, P., & Willits, J. (2018). Structured semantic knowledge can emerge automatically from predicting word sequences in child-directed speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 133.

Minor, K. S., Willits, J. A., Marggraf, M. P., Jones, M. N. (2018) Measuring disorganized speech in schizophrenia: automated analysis explains variance in cognitive deficits beyond clinician-rated scales. Psychological Medicine, 1-9.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2018). Quantity and diversity: Simulations of early word learning environments. Cognitive Science, 42, 375-412.

Willits, J. A., Rubin, T., Jones, M.N., Minor, K. S., & Lysaker, P. H. (2018). Evidence of disturbances of deep levels of semantic cohesion within personal narratives in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 197, 365-369.

Baayen, R. H., Shaoul, C., Willits, J. A. and Ramscar, M. (2017). Comprehension without segmentation: A proof of concept with naive discrimination learning. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 31(1), 106-128..

Montag, J. L., Matsuki, K., Kim, J. & MacDonald, M. C. (2017). The effects of word order on sentence structure choice in language production: A multi-clause and multi-language investigation. Collabra: Psychology, 3, 20.

MacDonald, M. C., Montag, J. L., & Gennari, S. P. (2016). Are there really syntactic complexity effects in sentence production?: A reply to Scontras et al. Cognitive Science, 40, 513-518.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2015). The words children hear: Picture books and the statistics of language learning. Psychological Science, 26, 1489-1496.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2015). Text exposure predicts spoken production of complex sentences in 8- and 12- year old children and adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 447-468.

Willits, J. A., Amato, M. S., & MacDonald, M. C. (2015). Verb knowledge and event knowledge in language processing. Cognitive Psychology, 78, 1-27.

Montag, J. L., AuBuchon, A. M., Pisoni, D. B. & Kronenberger, W. G. (2014). Speech intelligibility in early-implanted deaf children after long-term cochlear implant use. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 57, 2332-2343.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2014). Visual salience modulates structure choice in relative clause production. Language and Speech, 57, 163-180.

Willits, J. A., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2014). Statistical structure in language: Contributions to noun-verb differences in acquisition. Cognition, 132, 429-436.

Willits, J. A., Wojcik, E. H., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2013). Toddlers activate lexical semantic knowledge in the absence of visual referents: evidence from auditory priming. Infancy, 18, 1053-1075.

Refereed Conference Papers

Huebner, P. A., & Willits, J. A. (2018). Order matters: Distributional properties of speech to young children bootstraps learning of semantic representations. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1799-1805). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Soceity.

Willits, J. A., Jones, M. N., David, L. (2016). Learning that numbers are the same, while learning that they are different. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1799-1805). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Soceity.

Asr, F. T., Willits, J.A., Jones, M. N. (2016). Comparing predictive and co-occurrence based models of lexical semantics trained on child-directed speech. The 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1092-1097). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Soceity.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2014). Effects of text exposure on spoken sentence production. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1030-1035). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Rubin, T., Kievit-Kylar, B., Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2014). Organizing the space and behavior of semantic models. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & Scassellati (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. X-X). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013). Choice of referring expression subject to visual context, linguistic context and competition. In A. Gatt, R. van Gompel, E. G. Bard, E. Krahmer, & D. van Deemter (Eds.) Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the gap between cognitive and computational approaches to reference.

Willits, J. A. (2013). Nonadjacent dependencies in language and thought: Not so difficult after all. In N. Taatgen, H. van Rijn, L. Schomaker, & J. Nerbonne (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2570-2575). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Word order doesn't matter: Relative clause production in English and Japanese. In N.A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2594-2599). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Willits, J. A., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2009). Verbs are lookING good in early language acquisition. In N. Taatgen, H. van Rijn, L. Schomaker, & J. Nerbonne (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2570-2575). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Willits, J. A., Amato, M. S., & Sussman, R. S. (2008). Event knowledge versus verb knowledge. In V. Sloutsky, B. Love, & K. McRae (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2227-2232). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Willits, J. A., Duran, N. D., D’Mello, S. K., & Olney, A. (2007). Distributional statistics and thematic role relationships. In D. McNamara, & G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 707-712). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Talks & Presentations

Montag, J. L. (2018) Assessing reading experience in heritage Spanish-speaking undergraduates. Talk presented at the 3rd International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages, Los Angeles, CA.

Mech, E. N., Montag, J.L., Kroll, J. F. (2018). The consequences of bilingualism for category learning. Poster presented at the 2018 International Conference on Learning and Memory, Huntington Beach, California.

Sarkis, J. T., Montag, J. L., & Kroll, J. F. (2018). The effect of lexical accessibility on Spanish-English codeswitching. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Davis, CA.

Mech, E. N., Montag, J. L., & Kroll, J. F. (2017). The consequences of second language experience for new category learning. Poster presented at the 58h Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Vancouver, Canada.

Sarkis, J. T., Montag, J. L., & Kroll, J. F. (2017). The effect of lexical accessibility on Spanish-English codeswitching. Poster presented at the 58h Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Vancouver, Canada.

Willits, J. A., & Huebner, P. A. (2017). What children can learn about semantic structure from words distributional statistics. Poster presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Vancouver, BC.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2017). Simulations of early word learning language environments: Insights into sampling, analysis and sources of individual differences. Poster presented at the 10th Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Portland, OR.

Willits, J. A., Montag, J. L., & Yang, S. (2017). What words do children learn first? Using known words to bootstrap the acquisition of new words. Talk presented at the 42th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.

Montag, J. L. & Smith, L. B. (2017). Picture book reading in the lives of 18-30 month old children: A diary study. Poster presented at the 39th Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting, London, UK.

Huebner, P. A., & Willits, J. A. (2017). The interaction of input structure and cognitive architecture in a model of semantic development. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of Mathematical Psychology and Cognitive Modeling. Warwick, UK.

Willits, J. A. (2017). A two-stage model of semantic category learning. Invited talk for Symposium on Computational Modeling of Meaning and Semantics at 50th Annual Conference for Society for Mathematical Psychology. Warwich, UK.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N. & Smith, L. B. (2017). Simulations of early word learning environments: Implications for sampling methodology and data interpretation. Poster presented at the Psychonomic Society’s Leading Edge Workshop, Beyond the Lab: Using Big Data to Discover Principles of Cognition, Madison, WI.

Mech, E. N., Montag, J. L., & Kroll, J. F. (2017). The consequences of second language experience for language learning. Poster presented at the 11th Annual International Symposium on Bilingualism, Limerick, Ireland.

Huebner, P., & Willits, J. A., (2017). The interaction of input structure and cognitive architecture in a model of semantic development. Talk presented at the 12th Annual SoCal Conference on Cognitive and Language Development.

Huebner, P., & Willits, J. A. (2016). Learning to predict words gives children semantic knowledge for free. Poster presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. Boston, MA.

Huebner, P., & Willits, J. A. (2016). A Recurrent Neural Network Model of the Development of Child Productive Vocabulary. Poster presented at the International Workshop on Language Production.

Willits, J. A., Jones, M. N., David, L. (2016). Learning that numbers are the same, while learning that they are different. Talk presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Asr, F.T., Willits, J.A., Jones, M.N. (2016). Comparing predictive and co-occurrence based models of lexical semantics trained on child-directed speech. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Montag, J. L. (2016). How differences between child-directed spoken and written language may have consequences for early language production. Poster presented at the 7th Annual International Workshop on Language Production, San Diego, CA.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2016). Semantic interference in sentence production in three languages. Poster presented at the 28th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Gainesville, FL.

Willits, J. A., Rubin, T., & Jones, M. N. (2015). Don’t compare semantic models. But if you must, do it right. Talk presented at the Society for Computers in Psychology. Chicago, IL.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N. & Smith, L. B. (2015). Important differences between child-directed speech and children’s picture books. Poster presented at the 9th Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Columbus, OH.

Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N. & Smith, L. B. (2015). Language input from child-directed speech and children’s picture books are different. Poster presented at the 37th Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting, Pasadena, CA.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2014). What can children learn from 6 million words? Poster presented at the 55rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Long Beach, CA.

Shaoul, C., & Willits, J. A. (2014). Modeling multiple aspects of language acquisition using Naïve Discrimination Learning. Talk presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology: Long Beach, CA.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2014). What can children learn from 6 million words? Poster presented at the 39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development: Boston, MA.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2014). Effects of text exposure on spoken sentence production. Talk presented at the 36th Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting, Quebec City, Canada.

Rubin, T., Kievit-Kylar, B., Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2014, Jul.). Organizing the space and behavior of semantic models. Talk presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2014, Jun.). What words do children say first? Factoring inflectional morphology into word statistic-based predictions of age of acquisition Talk presented at the 2014 International Conference on Infant Studies: Berlin, Germany.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2014). Text exposure may affect relative clause use in children and adults. Poster presented at the 27th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Columbus, OH.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013). Emergence of literacy predicts children’s productions of relative clauses. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2013, Nov.). What are the units in statistical learning? The importance of inflectional morphology for learning about verb meaning and verb semantics. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development: Boston, MA.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2013, Nov.). Children’s verb acquisition: What are the units over which statistical learning operates? Talk presented at the 54rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Toronto, CA.

Willits, J. A. & Seidenberg, M. S. (2013, Nov.). Political attitudes for presidential candidates measured through language statistics in televised news. Talk presented at the 54rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Toronto, CA.

Willits, J. A., Kievit-Kylar, B., Rubin, T. N., & Jones, M. N. (2013, Nov.). Semanticore.org: A web-based portal for semantic models and psycholinguistic data. Talk presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology: Toronto, CA.

Willits, J. A. (2013). Learning nonadjacent dependencies in thought, language, and action: Not so hard after all. Talk presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Berlin, Germany.

Willits, J. A., & Seidenberg, M. S. (2013). Television network attitudes toward political candidates implicit in lexical statistics. Poster presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Berlin, Germany.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013). Choice of referring expression subject to visual context, linguistic context and competition. Talk presented at PRE-CogSci 2013 – Bridging the gap between cognitive and computational approaches to reference, Berlin, Germany.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013). Production of complex sentences across development: A possible role for emerging literacy. Talk presented at the 20th Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Willits, J. A. (2013). Learning language's abstract and rule-like structure. Poster presented at the BCBL Workshop on Infant Language Development: San Sebastian, Spain.

Willits, J. A., & Jones, M. N. (2013). Factoring morphological statistics into the learning of verbs. Poster presented at the BCBL Workshop on Infant Language Development: San Sebastian, Spain.

Willits, J. A., & Saffran. J. R. (2013). Infants can learn nonadjacent dependencies easily with correlated semantic cues. Talk presented at the BCBL Workshop on Infant Language Development: San Sebastian, Spain.

Willits, J. A., Sibley, D. E., & Seidenberg, M. S. (2012). Learning Nonadjacent Linguistic Dependencies: The Importance of Starting Complex. Poster presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Minneapolis, MN.

Willits, J. A. (2012) Learning nonadjacent dependencies is easy when you make it realistically complex. Talk presented at the 37th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.

Willits, J. A., Wojcik, E., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2012). Lexical semantic knowledge in infants. Talk presented at the 2012 International Conference on Infant Studies: Minneapolis, MN.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2012). Long-term learning and immediate demands affect sentence production. Poster presented at the 7th Annual International Workshop on Language Production, New York, NY.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2011). How visual salience affects structure choice: Implications for audience design. Poster presented at the 24th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Stanford, CA.

Goldwater, M., & Willits, J. A. (2010). The linguistic distribution of relational categories. In R. Camtrabone. & S. Ohlsson (Eds.), Poster presented at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society: Portland, OR.

Willits, J. A., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2010). What Do Infants Really Want (to Count)? The Role of Morphosyntactic Statistics in Early Noun and Verb Learning. Talk presented at the 2010 International Conference on Infant Studies: Baltimore, MD.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2010). Grammatical role assignment, not word order, drives structure choice in English, Japanese and Korean. Talk presented at Conference on Mental Architecture for Processing and Learning of Language 2010, Tokyo, Japan.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2010). The role of grammatical role assignment in production in three languages. Poster presented at the 23nd Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, New York, New York.

Willits, J. A., & MacDonald, M. C. (2010). Linguistic knowledge, world knowledge, and “semantic” effects on language processing. Talk presented at the 23rd Annual CUNY conference on sentence processing: New York, NY.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2010). The interaction of structure and plausibility in comprehension in two languages. Poster presented at the 23nd Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, New York, New York.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Word order doesn't matter: Relative clause production in English and Japanese. Talk presented at the 31st Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Willits, J. A., Seidenberg, M. S., & Saffran, J. R. (2009). Verbs are lookING good in early language acquisition. Talk presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Amato, M. S., Willits, J. A., & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Verb knowledge versus event knowledge in language processing. Talk presented at the 23rd Annual CUNY conference on sentence processing: Davis, CA.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Measuring production difficulty in object relative clauses. Poster presented at the 22nd Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Davis, CA.

Willits, J. A., & Seidenberg, M. S. (2008). Semantic priming: Distributional versus normative association strength. Poster presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Chicago, IL.

Willits, J. A., Amato, M. S., & Sussman, R. S. (2008). Event knowledge versus verb knowledge. Poster presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Washington, D. C.

Willits, J. A., Duran, N. D., D’Mello, S. K., & Olney, A. (2007). Distributional statistics and thematic role relationships. Talk presented at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Nashville, TN.

Willits, J. A., Hussein, M., & Burgess, C. (2006). Semantic priming and proper names: An alternative to the Implicit Association Test. Poster presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Houston, TX.

Willits, J. A., & Burgess, C. (2005). Statistical vs. featural semantic priming. Talk presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Toronto, ON.

Willits, J. A., & Burgess, C. (2005). Predicting word associations and word association effects from language statistics. Talk presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Toronto, ON.

Willits, J. A., & Burgess, C. (2005). Predicting semantic and associative priming using high-dimensional co-occurrence models. Poster presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Minneapolis, MN.

Willits, J. A., & Burgess, C. (2005). The connotations of proper names. Poster presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Minneapolis, MN.

Willits, J. A., Schellin, K., & Burgess, C. (2005). The induction of hierarchical structure from distributional statistics. Poster presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society: Vancouver, BC.

Unpublished arXiv Papers and Pre-prints

Willits, J., Saffran, J., & Lany, J. (2017, November 11). Toddlers can use semantic cues to learn difficult nonadjacent dependencies. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/4ca78

Book Chapters and Other Publications

Jones, M. N., Willits, J., & Dennis, S. (2014). Models of semantic memory. In J. R. Busemeyer & J. T. Townsend (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Mathematical and Computational Psychology.