Language scientists at the University of Maryland have access to world- class research facilities. Thanks to collaboration and widespread sharing of lab facilities, researchers can combine multiple methods in their research, and are free to use whichever methods suit their current questions, rather than choosing questions that fit the tools of a single lab. Details on the use of many of the research tools in use by Maryland's language scientists can be found at the Language Science Wiki.
Many labs are available for behavioral studies using judgment and reaction time paradigms. Many different measures are used to answer questions about the learning, representation, and processing of language. These include lexical decision, self-paced reading, artificial grammar learning, truth-value judgment, magnitude estimation, and speed-accuracy tradeoff. The low technical overhead of these methods makes them excellent for cross-linguistic research that requires testing abroad, and Maryland language scientists have conducted "experimental fieldwork" in many countries, including India, China, Sweden, Russia, Argentina, Japan, and Brazil.
Recent advances in tools for measuring eye- movements have led to many important findings about the time course of language understanding in children and adults. Maryland's language science labs have two EyeLink 1000 eye-trackers (Linguistics, Psychology) that are ideal for studies of reading, and an ASL Remote eye-tracker (Linguistics) that is ideal for visual world studies with children and adults. The two eye-trackers housed in Linguistics are community resources that are available to researchers from multiple departments.
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory (Linguistics) includes an EEG lab that allows recording at 32-128 locations across the scalp. EEG measures scalp voltages associated with underlying neural activity, and provides millisecond resolution information about the timing of brain processes. A widespread use of EEG recordings is to compute the average EEG activity synchronized to presentation of similar events, yielding the event-related brain potential or ERP.
The Maryland MEG Center, which is connected to the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory (Linguistics) houses a research-dedicated magnetoencephalography device. The scanner consists of an array of 160 ultra-sensitive magnetic field detectors that surround the scalp, allowing recording of the minute magnetic fields that are generated by the electrical activity of neurons in the brain. MEG recordings make it possible to localize dynamic neural activity with millisecond precision.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The new Maryland Neuroimaging Center (MNC), opening in early 2011, will house a state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner (3T Siemens Trio) that will be dedicated to cognitive neuroscience research, including studies with developmental populations. MRI is ideally suited for non- invasively studying brain structure and the localization of brain functions and neural connectivity.
The Maryland Infant Studies Network is a consortium of laboratories in Linguistics, Hearing & Speech Sciences, and Psychology that are dedicated to the study of cognitive processes in young children aged 2-3 months. The labs in the network bring around 2000 families per year to the College Park campus to participate in infant studies.
Research on language development in the critical preschool years benefits from a long-standing partnership with the Center for Young Children, an on-campus lab preschool with 120 children aged 3-6 years, plus other testing arrangements with local (pre-)schools.
Aphasia Research Center
Researchers in the Aphasia Research Center, led by Yasmeen Faroqi-Shah (Hearing & Speech Sciences) study language production and comprehension of individuals with aphasia using methods such as language analysis, reaction time measures, grammaticality judgments, and treatment efficacy. They are particularly interested in translating findings on the detailed character of agrammatism/Broca's aphasia into effective treatment programs.
The discipline of computational linguistics has two sides: using computational methods to improve our scientific understanding of language, and creating computer systems that interact with us more intelligently. The University of Maryland's large computational linguistics community has expertise and resources in both of these areas, spread across a number of different departments (Computer Science, Linguistics, iSchool). As cognitive scientists, they develop computational realizations of linguistic theories and psycholinguistic hypotheses, and they engage in large- scale analysis of corpora, i.e. collections of naturally occurring language. As engineers, they develop multilingual analysis tools and systems for machine translation, automatic summarization, document search, question answering, and sentiment analysis.