Thomas G. Bever
Professor of Linguistics, Psychology, Cognitive Science & Neuroscience
Tom Bever’s teaching and research focuses on the foundations of Cognitive and Linguistic Universals. He ordinarily works with a large number of independent study undergraduates, graduate students and colleagues: he works with students from many different departments.
Bever’s research areas include: sentence comprehension, cerebral asymmetries in humans and animals, constraints on learning in humans and animals, spatial cognition in humans and animals, reading, aesthetics.
My research has two primary directions, applied and theoretical. While they tend to support and enrich each other and there is some overlap in actual paradigms, I present them separately because of the difference in their implications. Students or others interested in more details should write me at email@example.com for a full description of current projects.
Theoretical Linguistics and Psychology
The engine underlying much of my theoretical research is the perennial question: What is the source of linguistic universals? This is critical to the study of grammar, since we do not want to impute to grammar universals that have other sources.
It has lead me into detailed analysis of topics superficially distant from linguistics: the bases for cerebral asymmetries in humans and animals, the nature of adult performance systems, the fundamental laws of learning abstract systems in humans and animals, group differences in cognitive processes (e.g., based on gender, or handedness), the nature of visual computational processes that comprise the evolved biological substrate for language, the formal (uncaused) components of abstract knowledge.
The unifying thread of all this is the attempt to distill out the true linguistic universals.
Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Science
The general goal of my applied work is: the application of linguistics and cognitive science to improve the human use of language. Many of the insights from recent linguistics, psycholinguistics and cognitive science offer useful engineering solutions to practical problems.