Rachel Ryskin is an Assistant Professor in Cognitive & Information Sciences where she leads the Language, Interaction, & Cognition (LInC) lab. She received a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 and then conducted postdoctoral work in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at MIT, before joining the faculty at UC Merced in 2020.
Rachel’s work centers around the question of how the human mind and brain enable us to transmit our thoughts to one another through language. In particular, she studies how individuals make sophisticated inferences, in real time, during communication in order to extract meaning from language input that can be noisy and ambiguous. This work combine insights from eye-tracking, electrophysiology, computational approaches, fieldwork, and neuropsychology to understand 1) how people use various sources of information (visuo-spatial perspective, the speaker’s knowledge state, language statistics, etc.) to generate and constrain their linguistic predictions, and 2) how lifelong learning allows inferences to be adaptive when the environment changes.
In a new line of inquiry, supported by an NIH grant, Rachel’s lab is investigating how our ability to predict upcoming language input may change across the lifespan and the role that executive function may play in this change.