The Psycholinguistics in Education at Northern (PEN) Lab is headed by Lindsay Harris, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational psychology at Northern Illinois University. Harris and her students investigate cross-sensory influences on the learning and processing of language.

Our work on cross-sensory contributions to meaning seeks to answer such questions as:

  • Do tactile (braille) and visual (print) reading lead to different representations of meaning?
  • Do encounters with written language (in braille orprint) lead to different representations of meaning than encounters with spoken language?
  • Does handwriting (instead of typing) new words strengthen semantic knowledge?
  • Does a choice between handwriten writing and typing entail a choice between strengthening semantic or phonological representations?
  • Do cross-sensory contributions to meaning interact with the visuospatial complexity of the writing system?

Our work on auditory-phonological influences on written language processing seeks to answer such questions as:

  • When does phonological activation during silent reading rise to the level of “inner speech”?
  • Do phonological activation and inner speech affect our visual perception of words when reading silently?
  • In bilinguals, does first-language phonology affect visual perception during second-language reading?
  • Do children experience inner speech, and does it affect their spelling development?
  • Do auditory-phonological influences on visual perception vary with the mapping principle of the writing system?

The work we do at the PEN Lab is highly interdisciplinary. Students in the lab come from a variety of programs at NIU, including educational psychology, visual impairments and computer science. We also collaborate across campus, with scholars from Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy, and across universities, with researchers at the University of Macau and the University of Pittsburgh, among others.

We are always looking for research assistants (graduate and undergraduate) and study participants (blind and sighted, bilingual and monolingual). Visit our Participate page and tell us how you'd like to get involved!

Contact Us

229 Graham Hall