The Language Production Lab at UIUC

Language Production Laboratory

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

About Us

Our work focuses on how people turn thoughts into speech. There are three questions behind much of the research. One is how the features of ideas affect language forms. A prospective graduate student might say either "The application took forever to fill out" or "It took forever to fill out the application". What determines which kind of sentence is used? A second question has to do with the cognitive processes that control how words are arranged. Speakers begin with ideas or scenes whose components may be present to the eye -- or the mind's eye -- all at once. But the words to communicate these mental pictures have to be spoken one at a time. If a mental picture is worth a thousand words, I ask: Which words? In what order? How does the speaker manage the flow of information? A third issue in my research involves what goes wrong when speakers make errors in selecting or arranging words. If you say "I have a room in my phone" when you mean "I have a phone in my room", what slipped? And why? The answers to these questions draw on theories about language and about cognitive processes, and emerge from new experimental techniques for examining language production.

-- Kathryn Bock

Get Involved

Learn about Undergraduate Assistantships and Apply!


Members of the Language Production Lab (left to right): (top row): Scott Fraundorf, Gary Dell, Ben Carter, Jeet Raut, Emily Patzelt, Javier Ospina, Gary Oppenheim, (middle row): Alison Trude, Tuan Lam, Kristen Tooley, Laurel Brehm (bottom row): Jeremy Boyd, Amanda Moncada, Audrey Kittredge, Bonnie Nozari, and Kathryn Bock.

Can you spot the five prairie chickens??

Members of Dr. Kathryn Bocks' Research Team (left to right): (top row): Tuan Lam, Kristen Tooley, Amanda Moncada, (middle row): Ben Carter, Javier Ospina, Laurel Brehm, Emily Patzelt (bottom row): Kathryn Bock, Linda Salgado, and our Lab Mascot.

Webmaster: Scott Hajek <>
Last modified: 1/24/2012


Postdoctoral Scholar

  • Maureen Gillespie

  • Graduate Students (Kathryn Bock)

  • Laurel Brehm

    Laurel is in her first year of graduate studies at UIUC. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Reed College in 2008. Her research interests include how semantic factors influence syntax use. Prior to starting her graduate studies at Illinois, Laurel worked at Moss Research Institute studying Aphasia.

  • Tuan Lam

    Tuan is in his third year of graduate studies at UIUC. He received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2006. His research interests include the factors influencing speakers to take a more audience design perspective versus an egocentric perspective in communication. Tuan is also working on a project examining the production of prosodic prominence in relation to predictability and repeated mention. His other interest is the universality and generalizability of language.

  • Graduate Students (Gary Dell)

  • Gary Oppenheim

    Gary is in his sixth year of graduate studies at UIUC. He received a B.A. in Anthropology from Grinnell College in 2001, and a M.A. in cognitive psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. His research interests include mapping from ideas to words (lexical access and incremental learning) and mapping from words to phonemes to articulation (inner speech and imagery). Before starting his graduate studies at Illinois, Gary painted life-sized dinosaurs at the Detroit Zoo, excavated prehistoric habitations along the Mississippi River, and managed Mark Seidenberg & Maryellen MacDonald's psycholinguistics lab at UW - Madison.

  • Audrey Kittredge

    Audrey K. Kittredge is in her 5th year of graduate studies at UIUC. She received a B.A. in linguistics from Brown University in 2004, and a M.A. in cognitive psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. Her research interests include the role of experience in adult language production and learning from errors in second language acquisition. Prior to starting her graduate studies at Illinois, Audrey worked as a research assistant for Professor Sheila Blumstein at Brown University and Professor Elizabeth Spelke at Harvard University.

  • Nazbanou Bonnie Nozari

    Bonnie is in her 4th year of graduate studies at UIUC. She graduated from Tehran University of Medical sciences with an M.D. in 2005. She started her research career in medical school, studying the nature of cognitive deficits in demented patients, which later, amounted to her launching the nationwide dementia-screening project in Iran, in collaboration with King’s College, London. Intrigued by her observations in demented patients, she decided to further her studies on higher cortical functions, and joined the Cognitive Psychology group in the University of Illinois in 2007. Her approach to problem solving is a combination of computational modeling and experimental data collection, with a specific interest in healthy and pathological language production (aphasia). In the past years she has focused more specifically on investigation of the architecture of the language production system. At the moment, her main theoretical issue of interest is the interplay between the language production system and centers of executive function. She currently has two lines of research: (1) interplay of attention and speech production, by investigating the effect of manipulation of attention on the patterns of speech errors. (2) error detection and repair in speech production. For her dissertation, she is proposing a new theory of speech monitoring, by applying a domain-general mechanism of error detection to the language production system.

  • Staff

  • J. Scott Hajek (Lab Coordinator)

    Scott is pursuing his MA/PhD in UIUC's Linguistics Department. He received his BA from UNC Chapel Hill in 2005 with double major in Psychology and Linguistics. Before coming to UIUC he managed Peter Gordon's lab at UNC.

    Undergraduates interested in working in the lab can fill out an application and read a position description.

  • Recent Graduates

  • Brendon B Hsieh
  • Agnieszka Konopka
  • Stefanie Kuchinsky
  • Heidi Lorimor
  • Erica Middleton
  • Jason Sullivan
  • Kris Onishi

  • Past Graduates

  • Doug Davidson
  • Todd Haskell
  • Scott Watter
  • Franklin Chang
  • Karin Humphreys
  • Zenzi Griffin
  • J. Cooper Cutting

  • Ongoing Projects in the Lab

    Structural Priming in Language Production

    Structural priming is a tendency to recreate a recently uttered syntactic structure in different words. It can be seen even when words and thematic roles change from one utterance to another. We are exploring an explanation of this kind of priming in terms of implicit learning, using experimental methods and computational models in our work.

    Grammatical Agreement

    Number Cognition

    People conceptualize number in two ways: grammatical number (singular or plural) and primitive number. We are investigating the relationship between number cognition and number grammar. Primitive number refers to the number-perception abilities that are present in early infancy (and in the animal kingdom), such that the individual can perceive the number without explicity counting. This ability applies to numbers up to three. The goal is to explain how speakers tacitly identify the perceptual and conceptual precursors of linguistic number and how number information is used under the normal time pressures associated with speaking. You may view the National Science Foundation Grant supporting this research here.

    Eye Tracking in Language Production

    The language production lab uses an Eyelink 1000 (SR Research) eye tracking camera to examine the role of gaze in speech production. Several of our past experiments have utilized eye-tracking in studies such as time-telling in a second language, story telling, and agreement processes.

    Fluency in Second Language Acquisition

    Language Production while Driving

    Using the Beckman Institute Driving Simulator, members of the Language Production Lab collaborated with researchers from cognitive neuroscience to examine the effects of speech production and comprehension on driving. Participants completed a driving task while being asked to listen to or produce utterances describing the locations of various buildings on campus in terms of cardinal direction. Dependent measures included velocity, lane position, acceleration, braking, and steering (all continuous). The substantial effects of concurrent language use on time to impact (headway) and in velocity variability confirmed the predicted deleterious effects of language production and comprehension while driving.

    To request a reprint or view an article...

    Please navigate to Dr. J. Kathryn Bock's reprints page or click on the publication title below (where available).

    In Press

    Foote, R., & Bock, J. K. (in press). The role of morphology in subject-verb number agreement: A comparison of Mexican and Dominican Spanish. Language and Cognitive Processes.


    Bock, J. K., Carreiras, M., & Meseguer, E. (2012). Number meaning and number grammar in English and Spanish. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 17-37.


    Bock, J. K. (2011). "How much correction of syntactic errors are there, anyway?" Language and Linguistics Compass, 5, 322-335.
    Bock, J. K., & Middleton, E. (2011). Reaching agreement. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 29, 1033-1069.
    Kuchinsky, S. E., Bock, J. K., & Irwin, D. E. (2011). Reversing the hands of time: Changing the mapping from seeing to saying. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 748-756.


    Becic, E., Dell, G. S., Bock, J. K., Garnsey, S. M., Kubose, T. & Kramer, A. F. (2010). Driving impairs talking. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 15-21.
    Spalek, K., Bock, J. K., & Schriefers, H. (2010). A purple giraffe is faster than a purple elephant: Inconsistent phonology affects determiner selection in English. Cognition, 114, 123-128.


    Konopka, A. E., & Bock, J. K. (2009). Lexical or syntactic control of sentence formulation? Structural generalizations from idiom production. Cognitive Psychology, 58, 68-101.


    Bock, J. K. (2008). Editorial. Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 1-2.
    Ferreira, V. S., Bock, J. K., Wilson, M. P., & Cohen, N. J. (2008). Memory for syntax despite amnesia. Psychological Science, 19, 940-946.
    Lorimor, H., Bock, J. K., Zalkind, E., Sheyman, A., & Beard, R. (2008). Agreement and attraction in Russian. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23, 769-799.
    Onishi, K.H., Murphy, G. L., & Bock, J. K. (2008). Prototypicality in sentence production.. Cognitive Psychology, 56, 103-141.


    Bock, J. K., Dell, G.S., Chang, F., & Onishi, K.H. (2007). Persistent structural priming from language comprehension to language production. Cognition, 104, 437-458.


    Bock, J. K., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., Cutting, J. C., Eberhard, K. M., & Humphreys, K. R. (2006). Number agreement in British and American English: Disagreeing to agree collectively. Language, 82, 64-113
    Bock, J. K., Dell, G. S., Garnsey, S. M., Kramer, A. F., & Kubose, T. T. (2006). Car talk, car listen. In A. S. Meyer, L. Wheeldon & A. Krott (Eds.), Automaticity and Control in Language Processing. (pp. 21-42) Hove, England: Psychology Press
    Bock, J. K., Konopka, A. E., & Middleton, E. L. (2006). Language production. In K. Brown (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. (pp. 103-112) Amsterdam: Elsevier.
    Chang, F., Dell, G. S., & Bock, J. K. (2006). Becoming syntactic. Psychological Review, 113, 234-272.
    Ferreira, V. S., & Bock, J. K. (2006). The functions of structural priming. Language and Cognitive Processes, 21, 1011-1029.
    Kubose, T. T., Bock, J. K., Dell, G. S., Garnsey, S. M., Kramer, A. F., & Mayhugh, J. (2006). The effects of speech production and speech comprehension on simulated driving performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 43-63.


    Eberhard, K. M., Cutting, J. C., Bock, J. K. (2005) Making syntax of sense: Number agreement in sentence production. Psychological Review, 112, 531-559.
    Humphreys, K. R., & Bock, J. K. (2005). Notional number agreement in English. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 689-695.


    Bock, J. K. (2004). Psycholinguistically speaking: Some matters of meaning, marking, and morphing. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 44, pp. 109-144). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.
    Bock, J. K., Eberhard, K. M., & Cutting, J. C. (2004). Producing number agreement: How pronouns equal verbs. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, 251-278.
    Bock, J. K., Irwin, D. E., & Davidson, D. J. (2004). Putting first things first. In J. M. Henderson & F. Ferreira (Eds.), The integration of language, vision, and action: Eye movements and the visual world (pp. 249-278). New York: Psychology Press.


    Bock, J. K., Irwin, D. E., Davidson, D. J., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2003). Minding the clock. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 653-685.
    Chang, F., Bock, J. K., & Goldberg, A. E. (2003). Can thematic roles leave traces of their places? Cognition, 90, 29-49.
    Davidson, D. J., Bock, J. K., & Irwin, D. E. (2003). Tick talk. In R. Alterman & D. Kirsh (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 294-299). Boston, MA: Cognitive Science Society.
    Hartsuiker, R. J., Schriefers, H. J., Bock, J. K., & Kikstra, G. M. (2003). Morphophonological influences on the construction of subject-verb agreement. Memory & Cognition, 31, 1316-1326.
    Loebell, H., & Bock, J. K. (2003). Structural priming across languages. Linguistics, 41, 791-824.


    Bock, J. K. & Levelt, W. J. M. (2002). Language production: Grammatical encoding. In G. T. M. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics: Critical concepts in psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 405-452). London, Routledge. [Reprinted from the Handbook of Psycholinguistics, 1994]


    Bock, J. K., Eberhard, K. M., Cutting, J. C., Meyer, A. S., & Schriefers, H. (2001). Some attractions of verb agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 83-128.


    Bock, J. K., & Griffin, Z. M. (2000). Producing words: How mind meets mouth. In L. R. Wheeldon (Ed.), Aspects of language production (pp. 7-47). Hove, England: Psychology Press.
    Bock, J. K., & Griffin, Z. M. (2000). The persistence of structural priming: Transient activation or implicit learning? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129, 177-192.
    Chang, F., Dell, G. S., Bock, J. K., & Griffin, Z. M. (2000). Structural priming as implicit learning: A comparison of models of sentence production. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research [Special Issue], 29, 217-229.
    Griffin, Z. M., & Bock, J. K. (2000). What the eyes say about speaking. Psychological Science, 11, 274-279


    Bock, J. K. (1999) Language production. In R. Wilson and F. C. Keil (Eds.), MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (pp. 453-456). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
    Bock, J. K., & Huitema, J. (1999). Language production. In S. Garrod & M. Pickering (Eds.), Studies in cognition: Language processing (pp. 365-388). Hove, England: Psychology Press.
    Bock, J. K., Nicol, J., & Cutting, J. C. (1999). The ties that bind: Creating number agreement in speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 40, 330-346.
    Dell, G. S., Ferreira, V. S., & Bock, J. K. (1999). Binding, attention, and exchanges. [Peer commentary on “A theory of lexical access in speech production”]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 41-42.
    Meyer, A. S., & Bock, J. K. (1999). Representations and processes in the production of pronouns: Some perspectives from Dutch. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 281-301.
    Pearlmutter, N. J., Garnsey, S. M., & Bock, J. K. (1999). Agreement processes in sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 427-456.


    Bock, J. K., & Garnsey, S. M. (1998). Language processing. In W. Bechtel & G. Graham (Eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Cognitive Science (pp. 226-234). Oxford, England: Blackwell.
    Griffin, Z. M., & Bock, J. K. (1998). Constraint, word frequency, and the relationship between lexical processing levels in spoken word production. Journal of Memory and Language, 38, 313-338.


    Cutting, J. C., & Bock, J. K. (1997). That's the way the cookie bounces: Syntactic and semantic components of experimentally elicited idiom blends. Memory & Cognition, 25, 57-71.


    Bock, J. K. (1996). Language production: Methods and methodologies. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 3, 395-421.


    Bock, J. K. (1995). Producing agreement. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 56-61.
    Bock, J. K. (1995). Sentence production: From mind to mouth. In J. Miller & P. Eimas (Eds.) Handbook of perception and cognition (Vol. 11, pp. 181-216): Speech, language, and communication. Academic Press.


    Bock, J. K., & Levelt, W. J. M. (1994). Language production: Grammatical encoding. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 945-984). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.


    Bock, J. K., & Eberhard, K. M. (1993). Meaning, sound, and syntax in English number agreement. Language and Cognitive Processes, 8, 57-99.
    McDonald, J. L., Bock, J. K., & Kelly, M. H. (1993). Word and world order: Semantic, phonological, and metrical determinants of serial position. Cognitive Psychology, 25, 188-230.


    Bock, J. K., & Cutting, J. C. (1992). Regulating mental energy: Performance units in language production. Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 99-127.
    Bock, J. K., Loebell, H. , & Morey, R. (1992). From conceptual roles to structural relations: Bridging the syntactic cleft. Psychological Review, 99, 150-171.
    Meyer, A. S., & Bock, J. K. (1992). The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: Blocking or partial activation? Memory & Cognition, 20, 715-726.


    Bock, J. K. (1991). A sketchbook of production problems. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research [Special Issue on Sentence Processing], 20, 141-160.
    Bock, J. K., & Miller, C. A. (1991). Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 23, 45-93.


    Bock, J. K. (1990). Structure in language: Creating form in talk.American Psychologist, 45, 1221-1236.
    Bock, J. K., & Loebell, H. (1990). Framing sentences.Cognition, 35, 1-39.


    Bock, J. K. (1989). Closed-class immanence in sentence production.Cognition, 31, 163-186.
    Bock, J. K., & Kroch, A. S. (1989). The isolability of syntactic processes. In G. N. Carlson & M. K. Tanenhaus (Eds.), Linguistic structure in language processing (pp. 157-196). Dordrecht: Reidel.


    Kelly, M. H., & Bock, J. K. (1988) Stress in time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 389-403.


    Bock, J. K. (1987). An effect of the accessibility of word forms on sentence structures. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 119-137.
    Bock, J. K. (1987). Coordinating words and syntax in speech plans. In A. W. Ellis (Ed.), Progress in the psychology of language (Vol. 3, pp. 3 37-390). London: Erlbaum.
    Bock, J. K. (1987). Exploring levels of processing in sentence production. In G. Kempen (Ed.), Natural language generation (pp. 351-363). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.


    Bock, J. K. (1986). Meaning, sound, and syntax: Lexical priming in sentence production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 12, 575-586.
    Bock, J. K. (1986). Syntactic persistence in language production. Cognitive Psychology, 18, 355-387.
    Kelly, M. H., Bock, J. K., & Keil, F. C. (1986). Prototypicality in a linguistic context: Effects on sentence structure. Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 59-74.


    Bock, J. K., & Brewer, W. F. (1985). Discourse structure and mental models. In T. H. Carr (Ed.), New directions for child development: The development of reading skills (pp. 55-75). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Bock, J. K., & Warren, R. K. (1985). Conceptual accessibility and syntactic structure in sentence formulation. Cognition, 21, 47-67.


    Bock, J. K., & Mazzella, J. R. (1983). Intonational marking of given and new information: Some consequences for comprehension. Memory & Cognition, 11, 64-76.


    Bock, J. K. (1982). Toward a cognitive psychology of syntax: Information processing contributions to sentence formulation. Psychological Review, 89, 1-47.
    Irwin, D. E., Bock, J. K., & Stanovich, K. E. (1982). Effects of information structure cues on visual word processing. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 21, 307-325.


    Bock, J. K., & Hornsby, M. E. (1981). The development of directives: How children ask and tell. Journal of Child Language, 8, 141-163.


    Bock, J. K., & Brewer, W. F. (1980). Comprehension and memory of the literal and figurative meaning of proverbs. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 9, 59-72.
    Bock, J. K., & Irwin, D. E. (1980). Syntactic effects of information availability in sentence production. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19, 467-484.


    Bock, J. K. (1977). The effect of a pragmatic presupposition on syntactic structure in question answering. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 16, 723-734.
    Bock, J. K., & Hornsby, M. E. (1977). How children ask and tell: A speech act analysis of children's requests. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, 13, 72-82.
    Osgood, C. E., & Bock, J. K. (1977). Salience and sentencing: Some production principles. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Sentence production: Developments in research and theory (pp. 89-140). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


    Bock, J. K., & Brewer, W. F. (1974). Reconstructive recall in sentences with alternative surface structures. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 103, 837-843.

    Last Updated: December 12, 2011

    Mailing Address:

    Language Production Lab
    Beckman Institute
    405 N. Matthews Ave.
    Urbana, IL 61801


    (217) 244-5494

    Lab Coordinator: J. Scott Hajek


    Our lab mascot is the Greater Prairie Chicken.

    • Name: Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanicus cupido)
    • Interesting facts: Prairie Chickens mate each spring. The mating ground is called a lek (from a Swedish word for mating). It is a cleared mound of ground in the Prairie Chickens area. Each male claims about 100 square feet of territory on the lek each morning before dawn. He starts struttin, dancing, and displaying his feathers. He fills the orange sacs on the sides of his neck with air and expels it, making a sound similar to that of air blowing over the mouth of a bottls. This behavior is called "booming." Males defend their territory and try to attract females to mate with them.
    • Description: A Greater Prairie Chicken is sixteen to eighteen inches long and weighs two to three pounds. Its upper body is brown and tan striped, and it has black pinnate feathers (wing-like tufts of feathers) on the sides of its neck. The males have a black tail, and the females have a brown-banded tail. The legs and feet are feathered, enabling them to stay warm in winter.
    • Habitat and behavior: A Prairie Chicken lives in grasslands. That all grass protects it from predators. The female makes a nest by arranging grass into a bowl shape and lining it with twigs, leaves, and feathers that she plucks from her breast. A Prairie Chicken does not migrate but lives through snowy winters by roosting in tall grass, even under deep snow, out of the wind.
    • Food: A Prairie Chicken eats insects such as ants, grasshoppers, and leafhoppers. Animals that eat insects are called insectivores.
    • Status: The Prairie Chicken is an endangered species in Illinois because of loss of habitat. There is a long-term study and restoration program going on in Jasper and Marion counties in Illinois. The purpose is to introduce new prairie chickens from other states to add new genes to Illinois stock. This will improve their survival rate and the hatching percentage of eggs.
    • Thanks to the Illinois State Museum for the information!

    WebFit Aphasia Modeling Project

    You may access the WebFit Aphasia Modeling Tool at the following address: