Language is one of the defining traits of our species. It, of course, allows for the accumulation and communication of knowledge. But in addition to its uses in communication, the acquisition and use of language appears to augment the human brain in important ways. The aim of my primary line of research is to investigate and delineate these extra-communicative functions of language:
How is our ability to place objects into categories altered by language? Does language literally change what we see? How does naming an object affect visual representations? How does using language change our memories? Do people who speak different languages see and remember things differently? Are there ideas that are unthinkable without language?
In addition, I have investigated the relationship between grammatical structure and social structure (Lupyan & Dale, 2010) and have a continued interest in the ways that the communicative (and cognitive) needs of a population shape the grammatical structure of languages.
I also have a broad interest in the dynamics of neural coding and the way in which perceptual and conceptual representations are dynamically shaped by an individual’s goals, expectations, and task context.
I have employed a wide range of experimental paradigms and tools to address the questions that interest me. These have included behavioral experiments, neural network modeling, large-scale corpus analysis, eye-tracking, neuroimaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
Lupyan, G. & Spivey, M.J. (in press). Redundant spoken labels facilitate perception of multiple items. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.
Lupyan, G., Thompson-Schill, S.L., Swingley, D. (2010). Conceptual penetration of visual processing. Psychological Science, 21(5): 682?691.
Lupyan, G. (2009). Extracommunicative Functions of Language: Verbal Interference Causes Selective Categorization Impairments. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16(4), 711-718.
Lupyan, G. (2008). The Conceptual Grouping Effect: Categories Matter (and named categories matter more). Cognition, 108: 566-577.
Lupyan, G. (2008). From Chair To ‘Chair:’ A Representational Shift Account Of Object Labeling Effects On Memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137(2): 348-369.
Lupyan, G., Rakison, D.H., McClelland, J.L. (2007). Language is not just for talking: redundant labels facilitate learning of novel categories. Psychological Science 18(12): 1077-1083.