Computational psycholinguistics [Ling 400]

Klinton Bicknell /// Spring 2015

Formal, computational models of how people learn, process, and produce language play a prominent role in modern psycholinguistics. This course surveys the field, with a focus on probabilistic models.



Week Date Topic Reading Presenter
1.1 Mar 31 Introduction to computational modeling Klinton
1.2 Apr 2 Speech perception Feldman, Griffiths, & Morgan (2009) [pdf] Klinton
2.1 Apr 7 Speech perception (cont.) Kronrod, Coppess, & Feldman (2012) [pdf] Klinton
2.2 Apr 9 Pragmatics Frank & Goodman (2012) [doi/nu, si] Kat
3.1 Apr 14 Syntactic learning: word order Culbertson & Smolensky (2012) [doi/nu] Daniel
3.2 Apr 16 Word learning Frank, Goodman, & Tenenbaum (2009) [pdf] Clayton
4.1 Apr 21 Word segmentation Goldwater, Griffiths, & Johnson (2009) [doi/nu] Tommy
4.2 Apr 23 Syntactic production Jaeger (2010) [doi/nu] Nayoun
5.1 Apr 28 Syntactic processing Levy (2008) [pdf] Kat
5.2 Apr 30 Language change Maurits & Griffiths (2014) [pdf, si] Daniel
6.1 May 5 No class (Klinton out)
6.2 May 7 Visual word recognition Norris (2006) [doi/nu] Clayton
7.1 May 12 Speech perception: the ideal adapter Kleinschmidt & Jaeger (2015): part 1 + appendix [doi/nu] Tommy
7.2 May 14 Speech perception: multiple talkers Kleinschmidt & Jaeger (2015): parts 2–3 [doi/nu] Tommy
8.1 May 19 Syntactic learning: grammar class Perfors, Tenenbaum, & Regier (2011) [doi/nu] Nayoun
8.2 May 21 Syntactic production: priming Jaeger & Snider (2013) [doi/nu] Kat + Clayton
9.1 May 26 Reading Bicknell & Levy (2010) [pdf], Bicknell & Levy (2012) [pdf] Klinton
9.2 May 28 Phonotactic learning Goldsmith & Riggle (2012) [doi/nu] Nayoun + Daniel
Jun 8 Final paper due



Tuesdays & Thursdays 2–3:20
Linguistics building (2016 Sheridan), room 202
Primary research articles are linked from this page. When possible, links labeled [pdf] or [doi] are to freely accessible versions of the article. For cases in which articles are only available behind a paywall, there are additionaly links labeled [nu] to get the article through Northwestern's proxy server. For articles that have supplementary information, there also extra links labeled [si].


Klinton Bicknell
Office hour
By appointment
Linguistics [2016 Sheridan Road] Office 107


Questions pertaining to the whole class should be emailed around to,, and Personal questions go just to Klinton.
Overview of state-of-the-art work in building computational models of human language comprehension, acquisition, and production. Students will learn about the many uses of instantiated computational models in these areas of research and will learn how to interpret and evaluate the claims made by these models. The course will be based around primary papers from the recent literature.
Academic integrity
Violations of academic integrity will be referred to the Dean’s office, per WCAS policies. Sanctions can be quite severe, including suspension or permanent expulsion from the university. For details and discussion of how to avoid plagiarism, see the Academic Integrity section of the WCAS undergraduate handbook.


Course Grade
  • active participation
  • leading discussion (3 times each)
  • final paper
Active participation
Students are expected to attend all classes, do the reading for all classes, and actively contribute to the discussion.
Leading discussion
The leader of discussion for the day should come with some prepared material (a handout or slides) that they can use to: (a) start out with a broad overview of the paper, (b) a somewhat detailed walkthrough of the important parts of the paper, and (c) questions for discussion.
Final paper
Students will write a final paper on a topic related to the course content. This can be either a review paper or research paper.
Keeping up
The schedule may change. These changes will be announced in class, over email, and the course website. It is students' responsibility to keep up with them.
Any student requesting accommodations related to a disability or other condition is required to register with AccessibleNU (; 847-467-5530) and provide professors with an accommodation notification from AccessibleNU, preferably within the first two weeks of class. All information will remain confidential.