Dr. Christine E. Potter
How do people learn language? And why do some people seem to learn new languages so much more easily than others? My research investigates how learners identify the most useful structures in their inherently complex language input and build their knowledge over time. Our studies include individuals whose experience varies with development (infants, children, and adults), language exposure (monolinguals, bilinguals, and second language learners), culture, and family background. By testing learning within and across diverse populations and contexts, we can explore how learners adapt to their communicative environments and observe how learning abilities evolve by constantly incorporating new expectations amassed through experience. Using a variety of experimental methods, we test the role of experience in determining how people flexibly perceive, learn, understand, and use language, in hopes of better understanding how early differences in experience may have long-term consequences for language outcomes.
Zettersten, M., Potter, C.E., & Saffran, J.R. (2020). Tuning in to non-adjacencies: Exposure to learnable patterns supports discovering otherwise difficult structures. Cognition, 202, 104283.
Potter, C.E., Fourakis, E., Morin-Lessard, E., Byers-Heinlein, K., & Lew-Williams, C. (2019). Bilingual toddlers’ comprehension of mixed sentences is asymmetrical across their two languages. Developmental Science, 22(4), e12794.
Potter, C.E., & Lew-Williams, C. (2019). Infants’ selective use of reliable cues in multidimensional language input. Developmental Psychology, 55(1), 1-8.
Potter, C.E., & Saffran, J.R. (2017). Exposure to multiple accents supports infants’ understanding of novel accents. Cognition, 166, 67-72.
Potter, C.E., Wang, T., & Saffran, J.R. (2017). Second language experience facilitates statistical learning of novel linguistic materials. Cognitive Science, 41, 913-927.
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison (2016)
PSYC 2310 Life Cycle Development