University of Wisconsin–Madison

Gary Lupyan

Associate Professor

(608) 262-4333

419 Psychology

Research Area(s)
Cognitive and Cognitive Neuroscience

Lab Website
Lupyan Lab

Research Interest
Does language simply allow us to better communicate our thoughts? Or does it fundamentally shape the structure and format of our mental states? To what extent does “normal” human cognition and perception depend on experience with and use of language?

My research on language-augmented cognition has investigated questions such as: How is our ability to place objects into categories is affected by verbal labeling? Does language literally change what we see? How does using language change our memories? Are there ideas that are unthinkable without language?

In addition to these questions, I have investigated the relationship between grammatical structure and social structure and the ways that the communicative (and cognitive) needs of a population shape the grammatical and semantic structure of languages and why there are different languages in the first place.

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.

Representative publications
Lupyan, G., & Dale, R. (2016). Why are there different languages? The role of adaptation in linguistic diversity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences20(9), 649–660.

Lupyan, G., & Bergen, B. (2016). How Language Programs the Mind. Topics in Cognitive Science8(2), 408–424.

Edmiston, P., & Lupyan, G. (2015). What makes words special? Words as unmotivated cues. Cognition143, 93–100. 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.06.008

Lupyan, G. (2017). Changing what you see by changing what you know: the role of attention. Frontiers in Psychology8(1055).

Lupyan, G., & Ward, E. J. (2013). Language can boost otherwise unseen objects into visual awareness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110(35), 14196–14201.

Lupyan, G., Rakison, D. H., & McClelland, J. L. (2007). Language is not just for talking: labels facilitate learning of novel categories. Psychological Science18(12), 1077–1082.