My research investigates the memory system that supports language comprehension, with special focus on individual differences. My approach represents a paradigm shift: rather than focusing on memory capacity as a source of difficulty, I focus on the efficiency of the retrieval mechanism. A related goal is to fully specify the cognitive architecture for language processing, including the mechanisms and time course through which needed information is brought in and out of the focus of attention.
Research in my lab aims to characterize factors that limit the ability to retrieve linguistic information from memory, especially interference, decay, quality of lexical representations, and cognitive control. We investigate these issues in diverse populations, including skilled and unskilled readers, dyslexics, Specific Language Impairment, and aging adults, utilizing a clinical approach which includes extensive assessments of cognitive and linguistic ability. Primary experimental methods include the speed-accuracy tradeoff procedure, which provides detailed data about the dynamics of information retrieval, and eye-movement measures during reading, which identify both the time-course and location of processing difficulties. More recent work incorporates fMRI and ERP methods to reveal the neurological bases of these processes.