The goal of our research at LSCP is to understand psychological mechanisms that underlie human cognitive functions.


Language is a striking example of a human ability. This skill may be decomposed into different layers, typically: phonology, syntax and semantics. In the projects from the language team, we study each of these layers: how are they implemented in the adult system and how are they acquired by children? The interfaces between different layers are a source of scientific interactions and joint inspiration. We may ask how any two of these elements constrain and complement each other: phonology and the lexicon, the lexicon and syntax, syntax and semantics, semantics and other cognitive abilities (such as theory of mind, reasoning).

Our goal is to propose:

  • models of (subparts of) the linguistic system, which take into account how the different components are organized in adults.
  • solutions to bootstrapping problems which emerge when one reflects about the acquisition of these intermixed layers (how do children acquire both A and B, when A seems to rely on B and B seems to rely on A?)

From a methodological point of view, the comprehension of our use of natural languages require a wide range of methods and data. We use a triple research strategy, including expertise in formal linguistics, experimental psychology (and imagery) and computational modeling.