Linguistics 170: Psycholinguistics (Winter 2014)

1 Course information

Lecture TimesMWF 1:00-1:50pm
Lecture LocationSOLIS 110
Class webpage

2 Instructor information

InstructorEmily Morgan (
Instructor's officeAP&M Room 2351
Instructor's office hoursTuesday 10:00-11:00am
Teaching Assistants (TA)Mark Myslín (, Julia Blume (
TA office hoursMark: Wednesday 12:00-12:50pm (AP&M 2351); Julia: Thursday 2:30-3:30 (AP&M 3331A)

3 Course Description

This is an introduction to psycholinguistics, the study of how humans learn, represent, comprehend, and produce language. Topics covered in the course will include visual and auditory recognition of words, sentence comprehension, reading, sentence production, language acquisition, neural representation of language, bilingualism, and language disorders.

4 Course objectives

By the end of this course you should have a solid understanding of both the research methodologies used in psycholinguistics and many of the well-established major findings in the field. You should also have achieved a degree of confidence in reading and critiquing original psycholinguistics research articles.

5 Course organization and classroom etiquette

Course meetings will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. During lectures, interrupting (politely!) to ask questions is highly encouraged – please raise your hand and I will call on you.

The use of laptops, tablets, and cell phones is NOT PERMITTED in this classroom. Electronic screens serve as a barrier between you and me. Worse, they can be a terrible distraction to students sitting near you. If you are used to taking notes on your laptop or a tablet, please just bring traditional pen and paper instead, and then transfer your notes to your computer after class. (The extra time you take to do this will actually improve your retention of the subject material anyway.)

6 Intended Audience

Upper-division students interested in language and the mind. Students should have taken Linguistics 101 (Introduction to the Study of Language), Psychology 105 (Cognitive Psychology), both, or the equivalent of at least one. If this doesn't describe you, talk to the instructor.

7 Readings

The following textbook is required for the class:

Traxler, Matthew J. 2011. Introduction to Psycholinguistics: Understanding Language Science. Wiley-Blackwell.

This text will give you an overview of the major topics of psycholinguistics. You should budget quite a bit of time for reading the assigned chapters. It has many references for further reading in all subfields of psycholinguistics. If you are interested in other developments in a particular subfield, please ask the TA or instructor.

Additionally, we will read some original research articles and review articles for this class. These will be distributed via


We will be using (also/previously known as Blackboard or WebCT) for administering homework assignments and providing some reading materials. Most of you should be familiar with Ted; if you aren't, poke around at

9 Syllabus (subject to modification)

WeekDayTopicReading Materials
(to be read before class)
Week 16 JanClass Introduction: what is psycholinguistics?
8 JanLinguistics review. Journal entries.Intro reading (pdf on Ted)
10 JanWord processingTraxler pp. 79–87
Week 213 JanWord processingTraxler pp. 97-104
(Not a typo; we're skipping 10 pages)
15 JanWord processingTraxler pp. 104–116
17 JanWord processingTraxler pp. 116–128
Week 320 JanMartin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
22 JanDiscussion of Meunier & LongtinMeunier & Longtin 2007
(Skip experiments 3&4)
24 JanSpeech productionTraxler pp. 37–54
Week 427 JanSpeech productionNo readingDecide on target article for review paper
29 JanBilingualism and second language acquisitionTraxler pp. 415–429
31 JanBilingualism and second language acquisitionTraxler pp. 429–440
Week 53 FebDiscussion of Dijkstra et al.Dijkstra et al. 2010
5 FebDiscussion of Dijkstra et al.Traxler pp. 384–390
7 FebReadingTraxler pp. 390–398
Week 610 FebSentence ProcessingTraxler pp. 141–151
12 FebSentence ProcessingTraxler pp. 151–159First review paper due
14 FebSentence ProcessingTraxler pp. 159–170
Week 717 FebPresident's Day Holiday
19 FebSentence ProcessingBegin Garnsey et al. 1997
21 FebDiscussion of Garnsey et al.Finish Garnsey et al. 1997
Week 824 FebReferenceTraxler pp. 241–256
26 FebReferenceTraxler pp. 256–261
28 FebLanguage production and language meaningTraxler pp. 267–287
Week 93 MarLanguage production and language meaningTraxler pp. 287–298
5 MarLanguage production and language meaningTraxler pp. 305–312
7 MarLanguage production and language meaningTraxler pp. 312–321
Week 1010 MarSign language
Guest lecture: Ryan Lepic
Traxler pp. 447–460
12 MarNeural methods in the study of language comprehension
Guest lecture: Chris Barkley
Kutas & Federmeier 2009
14 MarCurrent psycholinguistics research at UCSDNo reading; work on final paper
Finals19 MarExperiment proposal paper due at noon

10 Academic Integrity

Please take some time to read the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship. We will be conducting this course in full accordance with this policy. In particular, any suspected cheating or plagiarism in the course will be taken very seriously and investigated. If we determine that cheating or plagiarism has taken place, it will be reported to UCSD's Office of the Academic Integrity Coordinator, in accordance with UCSD policy. Please note that it is not at our discretion whether or not to report instances of academic dishonesty: we are obligated by UCSD policy to report such instances.

10.1 Examples of academic integrity violations

Here are some examples of academic integrity violations. DO NOT DO THESE!!!

  • Copying a friend or roommate's homework assignment.
  • Changing a graded homework assignment or exam and returning it for a regrade.
  • Smuggling notes into a closed-book exam.
  • Finding the answer key to a homework assignment (e.g., on the Web) and copying it.
  • Giving a false reason (e.g., death of a relative) for missing an exam or turning in an assignment late.

This is not an exhaustive list – please read the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and use your common sense!

11 Requirements & grading

Your grade will be based on four criteria:

  1. Weekly journal. There are no mid-term or final exams in this course, but instead I am requiring that you keep a journal of your reflections on the readings and course material. You will post each of your journal entries on the Ted class website. They will be publicly visible there (after the submission deadline for each journal assignment).

    You'll need to post a total of 10 journal entries throughout the course of the quarter; each journal entry must be posted by 12pm (noon) on the day of the relevant course. For example, if you are writing your entry on a topic to be covered on the first day of our coverage of word recognition, you must post your entry by noon on January 10.

    The journal entries will be worth 3.4% each for a total of 34% of your grade. Journal entires are graded pass/fail. You will receive full credit for every on time journal entry that substantially engages with course material in some way. More details about what is expected in journal entries will be discussed in class.

    My goal as an instructor is for everyone in the course to receive full credit on your journal entries, so please help me in this endeavor by doing the reading on time, thinking about it, and writing about it!

    Note on technical problems that may arise with journal entry submissions

    I do understand that Ted is imperfect software, and that odd errors crop up when you're doing something you think should be totally simple. However, if you wait until just before the submission deadline to enter your journal entry, then this is a risk that you take upon yourself. I highly recommend that you write the entry in a text editor or word processor, then copy and paste it into the Blackboard journal entry box after it's done. Ideally you should do this sufficiently before the journal-entry submission deadline that if Ted gives you an error upon submission, you can restart your browser and try again. If you continue to have difficulties, you can certainly email your journal entry to me and the TAs with an explanation that you were having difficulties with Ted. But you'll have to send this email before the submission deadline!

  2. A review paper (6-8 pages) to be written about a psycholinguistics research article of your choice. There will be a pool of research articles made available from which you can select one that appeals to you. The review paper will be due at noon on February 12 and will count for 30% of your grade.

  3. An experiment proposal paper (6-8 pages) in which you propose an original psycholinguistic research experiment related to a topic covered in the class. The experiment proposal paper will be due at noon on March 19 and will count for 30% of your grade.

  4. One of the two following options (6% of your grade; no extra credit for doing both!):

    a. Participation in three hours of the Human Subject Pool ( each hour of participation counts as 2% of your grade. You are encouraged to participate in language-related experiments, and to participate in these experiments early – the last day for participation is TBD, and there is no guarantee that there will be experiment slots open for participation in the latest part of the quarter. You can get detailed information on SONA participation at

    b. Writing a short research paper on some topic covered in the class (600-1000 words). The due date for such a paper is March 14, and no late papers will be accepted. If you choose this option, you must discuss it and get an OK on your research topic from the instructor by Feb 28before writing the paper and turning it in.

In addition, positive participation in classroom discussion (including asking well-thought-out questions) will be rewarded—your final grade may get bumped up a notch if it is borderline.

12 Homework grading policy

Late journal entries will not be accepted. Papers may be turned in up to six days late, but they will be downgraded 10% per day. Furthermore, nothing may be turned in after March 22.

Exceptions to the late policy can be granted for medical or personal emergencies, but the instructor or his TA must be notified as soon as possible (not several days after the emergency is over).

12.1 Regrading/correction policy

We all make mistakes–TAs and professors as well as students–so please do look over your returned work. In addition to helping ensure that you get the credit you deserve, this checking will improve your retention of the material. However, there is a statute of limitations: all grading mistakes must be brought to our attention within one week of our returning the work. This prevents us from getting a backlog of corrections at the end of the quarter, which would interfere with the time-consuming activities of preparing lectures and grading. Finally, by asking for any of your work to be re-graded you take on the risk that we will notice a problem that we had not noticed before, and actually end up giving you a lower grade than you were originally awarded. So we encourage you to bring any necessary regrades to our attention, but for your own sake you should do so only when you're fairly confident that we really did give you less credit than you deserve. Thank you in advance for your cooperation!