Elise Hopman

Elise_HopmanGraduate Student

B.Sc. in Mathematics, 2012.
B.Sc. in Physics, 2012.
M.Sc. in Cognitive Neuroscience, 2015.
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
E-Mail: hopman@wisc.edu

Research Interests

I am interested in how language learning works. Specifically, the way in which we pick up on regularities that are present in language fascinates me. One type of regularity that I have investigated in the past are grammatical alternations (e.g. ‘he broke the vase’ vs ‘the vase broke’). How do people learn which structure to use when? And, given that for proficient adult language users structure choices in alternations like these are governed by multiple constraints, how do we learn about these constraints when there are more than one? I am especially interested in language production: we don’t just learn to process the language (and its regularities) that we hear from other speakers, we end up producing structures according to those regularities ourselves.

Current Project

The question that I am planning to investigate during my PhD here at UW Madison with Maryellen MacDonald is how language learning might differentially affect language production and comprehension. We hypothesize that due to the winner take all nature of production, learning about a given regularity will be different than in situations where people mostly comprehend but are not pushed to produce language. Initially, we will investigate this behaviorally, but eventually I hope to further our understanding of the mechanisms that are involved in language learning by computationally modeling both comprehension and production tasks.
We will present the initial results from this project at CUNY 2017, read the full abstract here. We are hoping to submit a manuscript with these data in April 2017 and will post a preprint in PsyArXiv as well as a repository on OSF with all data and experimental materials at that time.

Past Research Projects

In previous research projects, I’ve looked at how people learn multiple regularities. During my honors research project (conducted at Indiana University Bloomington with Caitlin Fausey) I investigated how people learn about a visual regularity in the presence of a linguistic regularity. I found that only when the linguistic input was uninformative did people learn about the visual regularity. During my master’s project (conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics with Falk Huettig, Elisabeth Norcliffe and Caitlin Fausey) I investigated how people learn about a visual context regularity and a linguistic regularity at the same time, and I found that people are better at learning about linguistic regularities than visual regularities. Besides these projects of my own, I also worked for one year as a research assistant in the Magic Moments in Word Learning project (at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior with Atsuko Takashima, Iske Bakker and James McQueen). The study I worked on investigated the neural correlates of novel word learning in children before and after puberty.

Personal Interests

Outside of the university, I really enjoy being outdoors and being active. I race with the UW cycling team and bike everywhere for transport. Besides biking I also love hiking, yoga and zumba. My more indoorsy hobbies include cooking, reading, writing and learning languages. I’m also very interested in habits and how we can change them, and have blogged about this in the past (and might start doing so again in the future).

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