Rachel Ryskin


How do humans understand each other? I study how individuals make sophisticated inferences, in real time, during communication in order to extract meaning from language input that can be noisy and ambiguous. I combine insights from eye-tracking, EEG, 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.

Academic bio

I’m an Assistant Professor of Cognitive & Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced. Check out the Language, Interaction, & Cognition (LInC) lab webpage for more details!

Previously, I worked as a postdoc with Ev Fedorenko and Ted Gibson in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and Swathi Kiran in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science at Boston University. I got my PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I worked primarily with Sarah Brown-Schmidt and Aaron Benjamin. Before grad school, I got a B.A. in Cognitive Science from Northwestern University, where I studied memory for inaccurate information in text in David Rapp’s lab and how verbal labels help children learn relational concepts in Dedre Gentner’s lab.