Faculty Profile

headshot of Cynthia M. Connine

Cynthia M. Connine

Professor

Psychology

Background

Summary of Research

Spoken language understanding is among the most sophisticated capabilities of the human brain – the physical signal (speech) is a transient event that the brain must encode in a very short period of time. In the Psycholinguistics lab, the research team investigates the process of recognizing words - the basic building block of spoken language understanding. Recognition of spoken words occurs against a backdrop of thousands of possible words (the average high school student knows about 60,000 words!) that might be spoken by speakers with different dialects or accents than your own (Do you speak American?). The research focuses on the processes and representations that make this remarkable feat possible. Many of the research projects are informed by the distributional characteristics of spoken language by evaluating large corpora of spoken language conversations for patterns of word pronunciations across words and dialects. Under investigation are questions such as: How do listeners recognize words spoken with a different accent than their own or as an infrequent pronunciation? How do listeners learn new pronunciations of a word, a new dialect or acquire language-specific properties of speech sounds? Is what you know about how a word is spelled important for recognizing the spoken form? In some collaborative work with Albrecht Inhoff, we have investigated the related question of how knowing what a word sounds like influences reading and how representations developed during reading influence spoken language comprehension.

Mentoring and Teaching Philosophy

My goals are to develop logical and critical thinking, facilitate the development of original ideas and to impart the excitement of research to junior colleagues in the lab and in the classroom.

Representative publications

Gregg, J., Inhoff, A.W. & Connine, C.M. (2018). Re (Re) re-considering the role of temporal order in spoken word recognition.

Pinnow, E. Connine, C.M. & Ranbom, L.J. (2017). Processing pronunciation variants: the role of probabilistic knowledge about lexical form and segmental co-occurrence. Journal of Cognitive Psychology 29 (4), 393-403.

SM Sajin, S.M. & Connine, C.M. (2017). The influence of speech rate and accent on access and use of semantic information. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 70 (4), 619-636

Pinnow, E. CM Connine, C.M. (2014). Phonological variant recognition: Representations and rules. Language and Speech 57 (1), 42-67.

Education

  • Post-doctoral fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Indiana University
  • PhD, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • BS, Northeastern University

Research Interests

  • Spoken word recognition
  • Speech perception
  • Language processing
  • Psycholinguistics

Teaching Interests

  • Psycholinguistics
  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Perceptual learning
  • Practical pedagogy in university teaching

Awards

  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Alexander Humboldt Research Fellowship
  • NIH FIRST Award
  • NIH National Research Service Award individual post-doctoral fellowship
  • Sloane Foundation Fellowship in Cognitive Science

Research Profile