Associate Professor of Linguistics & Psychology

University of Michigan

I study the mental structures and computations used to understand words and sentences, with a focus on how these processes are implemented in the brain. My research uses formal, computationally grounded models of language comprehension to probe neural signals collected with electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

I have a particular interest in experimental methods that are as natural as possible, such as having participants read or listen to a story. Naturalistic techniques are especially suitable with populations for which standard experimental tasks may be inappropriate, such as with children with developmental disorders.

I am the director of the Computational Neurolinguistics Lab in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan.


  • Cognitive neuroscience of language
  • Syntax and semantics
  • Naturalistic experimental methods


  • PhD in Linguistics, 2010

    New York University

  • BA in Cognitive Science & Classics, 2003

    Vassar College

Funded Projects

Neuro-Computational Models of Natural Language

We build computational models of sentence understanding and evaluate their fit against neural signals collected from people performing a relatively natural task, like listening to a story. (NSF #1607251, 2017-2020)

Neural Coherence at Rest and During Language Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder

We use magnetoencephalography to probe processing of sounds, words, and sentences in school-aged children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. (U-M M-Cubed Initative, 2013-2015)

Where’s Jon?

The lab website lists all presentations and posters since 2013. For older presentations, click here

Neurobiology of Language: Key Issues and Ways Forward

[Postponed until 2021] The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics hosts a workshop on the challenges and the promises are for the neurobiology of language.

CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing

All the latest from the lab! Including: a talk from Rachel Weissler about expectation-based processing for African American Language, …

Colloquium: University of Chicago Linguistics

Symposium on Emergence in Communication & Learning

University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Complex Systems hosts a discussion of communicating systems.

Podcast: Brain Inspired

Paul and I discuss Linguistics in Minds and Machines


(2020). Localizing syntactic predictions using recurrent neural network grammars. Neuropsychologia.


(2020). How do listeners form grammatical expectations to African American Language?. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics.


(2019). Phase synchronization varies systematically with linguistic structure composition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.


(2019). The neurobiology of syntactic and semantic structure building. The Cognitive Neurosciences, 6th Edition.


(2019). Text Genre and Training Data Size in Human-Like Parsing. Proceedings of the Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP19).

PDF Project