LRDC Hosts 2023 Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing at Pitt

March 20, 2023

  • Why is "legalese" so hard to understand?
  • What are the consequences of pronouncing penny as "penny" or "pinny"?
  • Can we measure whether a text is easy or hard to read?
  • Do people read more accurately when they imagine someone else's voice in their head?

HSP 2023 logo These and other questions were discussed at the 2023 Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing (HSP), March 9-11, 2023, at the University of Pittsburgh. Hosted by the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), HSP is the premier event in North America for scientists interested in how humans comprehend and produce language. LRDC researchers Tessa Warren, Scott Fraundorf, and Natasha Tokowicz organized the conference, along with Michael Walsh Dickey from Pitt's Communication Science and Disorders department, and Seth Wiener from Modern Languages at CMU.

An interdisciplinary forum, HSP 2023 drew researchers from the fields of linguistics, psychology, computer science, education, neuroscience, and philosophy. Just over 275 scientists (faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates) attended the conference in person. This year was the first hybrid version of the conference and welcomed another 468 scientists on-line. Participants hailed from across the United States and over 20 other countries and were treated to 31 plenary talks and 271 poster presentations. Organizer Tessa Warren said "It was a fantastic conference. The quality of the presentations was extremely high and it was nice to meet so many of the newer members of our scientific community in person, after three years of online-only conferences."

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Amanda Godley opened the conference, and LRDC Director and Distinguished University Professor Charles Perfetti gave the invited talk "In What Specific ways - If Any - Does a Reader's First Language Matter When They Read a Second Language?"

A National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded special session for the conference "Literacy, Education, and Language Processing" was designed to encourage connections between psycholinguistics, literacy, and education. This special session included research presentations from six eminent scholars who work in the fields of psycholinguistics, education, and literacy, as well as a panel of invited discussants, who provided perspectives based in their experiences connecting psycholinguistic research to educational practice.

The special session capitalized and built on the unique strengths of the Pittsburgh academic community. LRDC is an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to the science of learning and to education practice. Pitt and nearby Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are home to a vibrant community of researchers in second language education. The special session on "Literacy, Education, and Language Processing" presented a valuable step towards translating language science into educational contexts.

The HSP conference has been committed to attracting graduate students and post-doctoral fellows both in attending and presenting at the conference. Scientists in the early stages of their careers were well represented and prominent in the conference programs. To broaden participation, this year's conference organizers conducted extensive outreach and offered virtual pre- and post-conference sessions for undergraduate and graduate students on how to interface with the conference.

More details at the HSP2023 conference webpage.