Psych/Ling 413

Psychology of Language

Spring, 2008

Instructor:   Dr. Alison Morris
Office:  Room 490, Science I
Phone:  294-7532

TA:   Mary Still, M.S.
Office:  Room 223, Science I

Class meeting:  W 5:10-7:40 pm   
                               Lago W272
Office Hours:      Monday 1:10-2:30 
                               Thursday 11:00-12:20 

Phone:  515-294-6587


Jump to Schedule of Topics

Speech Errors Worksheet

This is an introductory course in psycholinguistics. Whereas linguistics is the study of language (including such topics as the structure of language and the history of language change) psycholinguistics is the study of the mental processes underlying language behavior (including language acquisition). Both linguistics and psycholinguistics are part of the broader field of cognitive science (along with philosophy, cognitive psychology, and computer science).

In this course we will examine current questions regarding the nature and origin of human language and discuss what is known about how humans speak, listen, read, comprehend, and converse, as well as how language may (or may not) influence other aspects of cognition. The course will consist partly of lectures, films and discussions, but students will also participate in several "hands-on" activities and demonstrations designed to teach concepts and methods in psycholinguistics. Because students taking this course will have various levels of previous exposure to both psychology and linguistics, we will try to fill in the gaps as we encounter them.

Psycholinguistics applies the scientific method to the study of language processing. It is a theory-based discipline; therefore, in this course we will spend a good deal of time examining theories of language processing in terms of the specific predictions they make. We will also spend time discussing experiments designed to test these predictions. Many of the questions we will examine do not have definitive answers at this time, so the focus of the course will often be as much on the important questions and methods of psycholinguistics as on the as-yet tentative "answers".

Required text:

Carroll, D. W. (2008). Psychology of Language, 5th Ed. Thompson/Wadsworth.

Course requirements:

Grades will be based on the results of weekly quizzes (25%), a class presentation (25%), a term paper (35%) and class participation (15%).

Quizzes. A short quiz (5-10 questions) will be given at the beginning of each class, starting on the third week. The quiz questions will be drawn from the previous week's material (including the assigned reading). The quizzes should not require extensive "studying"; rather, the quizzes are designed to encourage you to think about the course material as it is presented. There are no make-ups for missed quizzes; however, you may drop your lowest three quiz grades.

Presentation. Each student will prepare one class presentation, describing a published psycholinguistic experiment. Although I will provide the reference needed for this assignment, you will be responsible for obtaining a copy of the article from the library. Two or three student presentations will be scheduled each week, beginning on Week 6. Students will be assigned to their to-be-presented experiments three weeks prior to the date of their scheduled presentation.

Term Paper. Each student will write a 5-7 page paper examining a particular claim in psycholinguistics. The paper will describe 3 published studies from different authors investigating the same claim. The topic should be different than the presentation topic. The paper will be turned in in three stages: 1) a detailed outline; 2) the completed paper; 3) the revised paper. Click here for a more detailed description of the term paper assignment, and here for an example outline.

Class Participation. The class meets only once weekly and a lot of the material will be presented via demonstrations and group activities, so attendance at every class is essential. Attendance is expected except in cases of illness or family emergency. Your class participation grade will be based on your attendance and your participation in class discussions and group activities. There is no way to "make up" a missed class, so unexcused absences will have a negative effect on your grade. If you have obligations (work or other) that you anticipate will interfere with class attendance, you should not plan to take this class.

Course Policies:

Academic Dishonesty: Procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) will follow university guidelines. See the ISU student handbook for details.

Disability Accommodations. If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please make arrangements to meet with me soon. Please request that a Disability Resources staff member send a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form verifying your disability and specifying the accommodations you will need. The Disability Resources office is located in the Student Services Building, Room 1076. Their phone number is 515-294-6624, TDD 515-294-6335.  

Tentative schedule of topics and readings:

Note. This schedule is only tentative. We may get more heavily involved in discussing some topics, so they make take a bit more time; other topics may take less time.

Week 1 - Jan 16




Ch. 1, Ch. 2


Week 2 - Jan 23

Evolution of Language
Language in animals?


Ch. 13 pp. 379-392

Links to videos

Week 3 - Jan 30

Perception of Language


Ch. 4 pp. 68-90

Vocal fold vibration

Articulatory phonetics

Pattern playback

Categorical perception

Phoneme restoration

Week 4 - Feb 6

Perception of Language, cont.


Ch. 4 pp. 91-101

Speech Perception Lab some interesting stuff described here!

Word Superiority Effect Demo


Week 5 - Feb 13

The Internal Lexicon


Ch. 5 pp. 102-118



Semantic Networks

Week 6 - Feb 20

The Internal Lexicon, cont.


Som Mongtin

Rachel Palmer


Ch. 5 pp. 119-129

Word Fun

Unpaired Words

Fun with unpaired words

Week 7 - Feb 27

Sentence comprehension

Noah Kruse

Jenna Ehler


Ch. 6 pp.130-140

Ambiguous headlines

Pepperberg talk at Memorial Union Feb 29

Week 8 - Mar 5


Figurative Language
Discourse Comprehension

Lindsey Hamilton

Annie Deam


Ch. 6 pp.141-150
Ch. 7 pp. 157-167

Metaphor and Neuropsychology

Week 9 - Mar 12

Language production


Alicia Gossling


Ch. 8

Article with types of errors and examples

Speech errors in apes?

Week 10 - Mar 19




Week 11 - Mar 26

Language production, cont.

Nora Schultes

Maxim Howard


Ch. 9 pp. 224-234

Herb Clark's publications

Week 12 - Apr 2


Language acquisition

Ch. 12

Review of Chomsky Book

Week 13 - Apr 9

Language acquisition cont.


Leslie Lepeltak

Karl Foster


The Language Explosion (Newsweek)

Williams Syndrome article

Week 14 - Apr 16


Rachel Brown



Ch. 11 pp. 310-322

Week 15 - Apr 23

Brain Mechanisms

Mohammad Bassam

Nick Neibauer


Ch. 13 pp. 354-379

Neuropsychology: A Multimedia Course

Week 16 - Apr 30

Language and Thought, cont.

Chelsea Nowakowski

Chelsey Holtz

Michael J. DiMarco

Caitlin Kooienga


Ch. 14