Associate Professor of Psychology

Department of Psychology, Boston University
64 Cummington St., Boston, MA 02215

Office: Rm 123, Phone: (617) 353-2956, Lab: Rms 127-129

Curriculum vitae

Information about Research Internships

Psycholingustics Lab

Media and web

Photos - misc

Research and Background

I was trained at UC San Diego, 1985-1991, where I studied under the guidance of Elizabeth Bates, Jeffrey Elman, David Rumelhart, Rama Ramachandran, Ronald Langacker, Patricia Churchland and (via CMU) Brian MacWhinney and Jay McClelland (and of course many other wonderful teachers and scholars). I have been a faculty member at BU since 1991.

My research interests are broad, encompassing diverse aspects of language processing, including second language acquisition, emotional aspects of language, and word recognition. I am the first researcher to document that emotion words elicit larger skin conductance responses in a first language than in a second (see paper in Applied Psycholinguistics pdf). I am currently studying emotional reactivity in the U.S. for speakers who grew up speaking Russian, Mandarin, or Spanish, as well as English native speakers who learned Russian as a foreign language (see powerpoint presentation for overview of this research and 2009 journal article on lying in native vs. foreign language). See also a recent powerpoint which discusses the role of motivation in second language acquisition. I am also interested in how units larger than single words are important for fluency and efficiency in all types of language processing  (see paper).

In word recognition, I have expertise in an intriguing visual/cognition illusion called repetition blindness. I have shown how illusory words can be created by embedding word fragments in the visual stream, as in "pain grain avy" (leads to report of "gravy" (see, for example, my paper with Alison Morris, in pdf). I have used repetition blindness and the same/difference task to investigate how diacritic letters are represented in Turkish. With German colleagues Martin Heil and Michael Niedeggen I have used this technique to explore consciousness (see our paper in Neuroreport). We conclude that what viewers perceive is more important for subsequent brain states and processing than what is actually in the visual input. A new model of repetition blindness and orthographic priming appeared in 2009 in the journal Cognitive Psychology.

In my cross-cultural research, I am the originator (with Ayse Aycicegi) of the Personality-Culture Clash hypothesis. We propose that mental health is facilitated by having a personality in tune with cultural values.

I currently supervise three doctoral students: Hui-wen Cheng (semantic and phonological activation during Chinese vs. English reading), Jimmy Tong (video games as the ideal intervention for foreign language learning), and Juliana Gorian (studying semantic and conceptual primitives across languages).  Zhengrong Chen, a post-doctoral researcher from Nanjing, China, joined my lab in July 2010 to gain psycholinguistics training.

In addition to topics listed in my current and prior conferences list, I am available to speak on advertising to bilingual populations, processing simplified and traditional Chinese (or contact Hui-wen Cheng, the real expert), and current perspectives on evolutionary psychology.





Course Overview 

Fall 2010

On maternity leave -- see photos of my twins

Spring 2011

PS 824

Cognitive Psychology (Graduate level),

Syllabus (doc)

Fall 2011

PS 125

Revolutions in Conceptualizing the Mind: 1950s to the Present.

Syllabus (doc)

Fall 2011

PS 828

Seminar in Psycholinguistics

See prior years

Spring 2012

PS 824

Cognitive Psychology (Graduate level),

Syllabus (doc)

Want lab experience? See research internship description. Also: teaching intern report . Examples of some lectures (older, from the days before Blackboard).

Syllabi from Prior Academic Years

Conferences & Colloquia, 2010-2011






Berkeley Linguistics Society


Feb 6-7 2010

Orthography Shapes Semantic and Phonological Activation in Reading

Hui-wen Cheng



March 24-27 2010

Promoting Teaching Methods and Materials for ASL-English Education

Snodden, Hoffmeister, Kuntze...

Theoretical Issues in

Sign Language Research

Purdue, Indiana

Sept 30 2010

Cognitive and linguistic control in verbs of motion and location: Acquiring plurals & arrangements.

Hoffmeister Fish & Kuntze

Presented at the International Neuropsychological Society


Feb 2 2011

Jokes in a Second Language Elicit Reduced Physiological Arousal


International Association for Applied Linguistics

Beijing, China

August 23-28 2011

Emotional arousal elicited by reading or listening to emotional phrases in a native vs. a foreign language


Eastern Psychological Association

Cambridge, MA

March 10-13 2011

Syntactic difficulty can increase or decrease perceived emotional content of a sentence


Eastern Psychological Association

Cambridge, MA

March 10-13 2011

Systemizing and Special Interests: Understanding Neurotypical and Autism Spectrum Disorder Differences

Chloe Jordan

Prior Conferences

Misc. items of Interest:
The great minds at MIT linguistics wondered, on October 19, 2007, "Have we all been wrong?" See notes from Hockett's review of Chomsky's linguistic theory (html) from his State of the Art book 4 decades ago.
Or if you want child language acquisition data, see the Bates and MacWhinney classic 1987 paper (pdf), only 20 years old...
Why so slow? Video of Virginia Valian's lecture at MIT

My ppt for my Developmental Psychology Class The effects of war on children and families (April 2009)

Photo of my undergraduate research interns, summer 2009