Alison Shell

My general research interests are in investigating the complex ties that exist between language and cognition. While I aim to study both the ways that language can impact the way we think, as well as the way our cognitive processes can influence the way we speak and listen, my current research focuses mainly on the latter. Currently I am investigating the role of inhibitory control in bilingual language production. It is commonly believed that inhibition is used in bilingual language production in order to switch between multiple languages. My research seeks to determine if this inhibition is specific to language or if it may, in fact, be the same cognitive inhibitory control used for non-linguistic tasks. Another project that I am beginning to work on as part of my IGERT fellowship investigates the role of cognitive control in second language learning. While it is widely known that children are better than adults at second language learning, the purpose of this research is to delve more deeply into the cognitive mechanisms that may allow for this advantage. I am currently looking at learning of complex linguistic rules in adults and plan to address this with young children as part of a lab rotation. Specifically I am asking if aspects of cognitive control may benefit or disadvantage specific areas of language learning.

Areas of Interest:
  • CNS
Email: alisonshell@umd.edu