HumLab staff

HumLab staff have many different areas of expertise across several varying interests.



Neil Bermel

My research has centred on variation in grammar and form in Czech and Russian. Currently I am looking at ways of evaluating variation in language, including the use of questionnaires, tests and corpora.

We have been comparing corpus data to our experimental results to see what the relationship is between them, people’s acceptability judgements and their actual linguistic production.

Robyn Orfitelli

My research is focused on the intersection between first language acquisition and generative syntactic theory. I use a variety of corpus and behavioural measures to experimentally analyse children’s acquisition of complex syntactic phenomena.

Recently, I have been interested in understanding the acquisition of a range of A-movement phenomena related to voice, including subject-to-subject raising, passives and middles.

I am working to link patterns in acquisition to systematic cross-linguistic differences in the representation of these structures.

Gareth Walker

I use auditory and acoustic phonetic techniques in combination with Conversation Analysis to analysing recordings of unscripted interaction.

This includes analysing visual aspects of interaction (posture, gaze and gesture). I have published work on topics including turn-taking, turn construction, turn continuation, laughter and the signalling of attitude and emotion in conversation.

I have studied interactions between adults, and between parents and young children.

Christian Adam

I am currently investigating what insights about linguistic phenomena, in particular grammatical aspect, can be derived from a perspective that is based on the metaphor of artificial communication, combined with insights from learning theory.

Conceiving of language as a sequential discriminative process, my goal is to build a computational model consistent with this view and to verify its predictions using experimental and corpus data.

Holly Dann

My research is focussed on language variation in Cornish English. Using socio-phonetic methodologies, I examine the effect of factors such as ‘localness’, social class, and local orientation on adolescent language use in Cornwall.

Specifically, I combine production and perception methodologies to explore how social meaning emerges through language use.


Nicola Dibben

From an initial focus on how listeners make sense (or not!) of tonal and early atonal music using laboratory-style experiments, my research broadened to look at emotion, meaning and subjectivity in music listening.

My co-authored book Music and Mind in Everyday Life (2009) provides a critical discussion of psychological approaches to music. I was inspired to start writing about popular music while a lecturer at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1996, by membership of the Critical Musicology forum (an informal association of British scholars interested in non-formalist approaches to music analysis), and a subsequent British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship.

I started investigating popular music’s role in the construction and experience of gender and identity, and, later, on constructions of nature, technology and landscape in popular music.

These interests lead to a book on Icelandic musician Björk (Björk, 2009), resulting in a working collaboration on Björk’s ground-breaking app-album Biophilia (2011) – now part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and an educational program run by the Nordic Council.

Renee Timmers

My current research projects investigate ensemble performance, cross-modal perception of music, and perception and expression of emotion in music.

My aim is to work towards applications of music psychological findings, including investigations of perception of emotion in listeners with hearing impairment, and ways to improve teaching and learning of expressive performance of music.

Shen Li

I am working as a student representative of the Music Department in the Humlab. I am also a third year PhD student studying Psychology of Music.

My current project focuses on the perception and production of piano timbre from a performer’s perspective, which covers several interesting issues such as the conceptualisation of piano sounds, the mind/body relationship as a pianist, and the possible implications in piano pedagogy.


Luca Barlassina

The main focus of my research concerns the nature of affective states (i.e. what emotions, moods, pains etc. are) and how we are able to attribute these kinds of state to ourselves and to other people (e.g. how we recognise that someone is afraid).

Fortunately, however, I am unfocused enough to have many more interests. For example, I have been writing on moral judgement, tense and time, causal reasoning, and other entirely unrelated topics.


Petar Milin

My primary research interests are concentrated in areas concerned with understanding how humans process language.

I have been particularly active in investigating word or lexical processing, though my recent work extends this focus to the study of sentence processing and meaning as it is expressed in natural communication.

Methodologically, my work combines established experimental approaches with robust statistical and computational modelling techniques.

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