Lab Director

Vicky T. Lai is an assistant professor in psychology and cognitive science. The overarching theme of her research is the processing of meaning and language in context. Specific topics include non-literal language, emotion and language, and language and thought. In her free time, Vicky likes to swim, hike, cook and eat gourmet foods with friends and colleagues, and watch sci-fi movies and dark comedies.

Graduate Students

Li-Chuan "Matt" Ku is a PhD student in the cognition and neural systems (CNS) program in the department of psychology. He is interested in emotion and non-literal language processing (e.g. jokes). He is particularly fascinated by how emotion concepts are encoded in our mental lexicon and how individual differences in cognitive abilities can affect the processing of implied emotions in language. He uses EEG, fMRI, and MEG. In his free time, Matt likes cycling, reading thrillers, and traveling.

Valeria Pfeifer is a PhD candidate in the cognition and neural systems (CNS) program in the department of psychology. Her dissertation investigates how irony impacts emotion using EEG and fMRI. When there is no pandemic, Valeria enjoys dancing, yoga, and cooking.

Stanley Donahoo is a PhD student in the linguistics department with a minor in cognitive science (advisor Thomas G. Bever). He is interested in experimental pragmatics and sentence processing in context.  He is also interested in using neuroscience approaches towards a better understanding of both literal and non-literal language.  His current work in this lab examines the processing and effects of swear words (e.g., damn, shit). In his free time, Stanley likes cycling around Tucson and trying out new coffee roasteries. 

Anna Katikhina is a Ph.D. student in the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) program. She is interested in how first and second languages shape human cognition. Anna’s research focuses on event representations in speakers of languages that encode verbal aspect and those that don't. In her free time, Anna enjoys traveling around the world.

lauraLaura Baiocco is a first-year PhD student in the cognition and neural systems (CNS) program in the department of psychology. Her interests include figurative language processing, emotional processing and the relationship between the two. In her free time, she likes to watch good tv shows, visit new places and eat veggie food

Undergraduate students: We are recruiting undergraduate students who are interested in gaining language research experiences in the forms of (1) independent study, (2) volunteer, and (3) honors thesis. You will receive training on EEG methodology and data analysis, which would be valuable for you in terms of future grad school application. Please contact Dr. Lai for more info or/and to set up a meeting for discussion.

Undergraduate Students

adian smithAidan Smith is a Junior majoring in psychological science, with a minor in classics. His main interests lie in cross-cultural language development, and individual differences of language acquisition. His further research passions are in mental health, psychopathology, and disorders of all kinds. In his free time, Aidan loves to take runs, hike, skate, hangout with friends, and play video games.

penelopePenelope Stuart is a second-year Honors student with majors Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, Linguistics, and Arabic and minors in Spanish and Art History at the University of Arizona. She is working as a research assistant in the lab. Her primary interests include L1 acquisition, aphasia, syntactic processing, UG, and consciousness. When not engaged in these pursuits, Penelope can be found working as an intern for the Department of Mexican American Studies, assisting in phonological research and language revitalization projects, practicing folkorico dance, serving as a UA SBS Ambassador, listening to minimalist opera, biking around Tucson, and striving to create the perfect espresso.

ethan with catEthan Bennett is a psychology major with a minor in biochemistry. He is interested in language and empathy and how those two connect. Outside of the lab, he likes hockey and baseball a lot and likes to play videogames when his favorite teams aren't playing. Ethan also like cats and has 6 of them back home.