Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Lee Osterhout

Osterhaut, Lee
Phone: 206-543-4177
Dept.: Professor, Department of Psychology
Neuroscience Focus Groups:
Lab Link


Research in my lab is designed to learn more about the biological and cognitive mechanisms underlying human language. The primary method employed in my lab involves recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) from the scalp while subjects read or listen to language. ERPs reflect the summed, simultaneously occurring postsynaptic activity in large groups of neurons in the brain. Using this method, we have learned, for example, that the brain responds differently to anomalies involving sentence structure (syntax) and sentence meaning (semantics). Furthermore, these language-sensitive ERP effects can be used to investigate the syntactic and semantic analysis of language comprehension as it occurs over time. We have recently used ERPs to study the changes in brain activity that are associated with second-language acquisition and individual differences in the processing of complex sentences.