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Mar 6 2023

The Black Scholar Series – Dr. Duane Watson (Main Lecture)

Understanding the Link Between Language Experience and Language Processing

March 6, 2023

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM America/Chicago

A speaker’s language environment plays an important role in language use. The language environment is critical for language learning and vocabulary growth in children, and in predicting the difficulty of processing words and sentences in adults. In this talk I will present a set of studies that will show that the relationship between language exposure and language use is complex. I will present experimental evidence suggesting that daily internet reading habits are linked to individual language processing styles. On the other hand, I will also present evidence showing that multiple exposures to certain types of sentences do not necessarily make these sentences easier to understand for listeners. Finally, I will discuss some of the ways in which the spoken language environment can play a role in language use, and will present a pilot study showing that social factors, such as a shared opinion with a conversational partner, can influence subtle linguistic factors such as speech rhythm.


Dr. Jessica Shaw

Date posted

Dec 7, 2022

Date updated

Dec 7, 2022


Dr. Duane Watson | Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, and Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.

Duane Watson is the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. He earned his A.B. in Psychology from Princeton University, and received his doctorate in Cognitive Science from M.I.T. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester, Dr. Watson joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He moved to the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in 2016. Dr. Watson's research focuses on the cognitive processes that underlie language production, comprehension, and reading. His research has been funded by both the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. He is currently an Associate Editor at the  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, and has served on the Psychonomic Society Governing Board since 2018. He was the 2021 Chair of the Psychonomic Society Governing Board. Watson is also a co-founder of the SPARK Society, an organization that works towards increasing the number of historically marginalized groups in the brain and cognitive sciences. He currently serves on the SPARK Society Governing Board.