Kaitlyn Tagarelli awarded dissertation fellowship

Kaitlyn Tagarelli, a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Linguistics, is the recipient of a William Orr Dingwall Foundation Neurolinguistics Dissertation Fellowship. The award, which provides a 12-month stipend, is meant to allow doctoral candidates to work full time toward the completion of a dissertation in neurolinguistics.

Kaitlyn’s dissertation, The neurocognition of adult second language learning: An fMRI study, is an interdisciplinary project aimed at understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms that underlie second language acquisition. Because of the substantial length of time it takes to learn a second language, longitudinal studies following the full course of natural language learning are logistically impractical. To address this problem, Kaitlyn’s dissertation involves training learners on a mini-language while obtaining continuous behavioral (accuracy and reaction time) and neural (functional magnetic resonance imaging; fMRI) measures. A mini-language is a smaller version of a natural language that can be rapidly acquired, thus allowing the investigation of learning from initial exposure to high proficiency. This study is expected to provide a more complete picture of the trajectory of second language acquisition by using a mini-language model and combining behavioral and neural approaches.