Dr Jelena Mirkovic

My main research area is psychology of language learning and use. I am interested in how people learn languages (and more specifically grammar), and how language learning and language use are supported by memory mechanisms in the brain in adults and children.

Qualifications

PhD Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
MSc Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
BSc Psychology, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Profile

Teaching

Undergraduate

  • Psychobiology 1
  • Psychobiology 2
  • Cognitive Psychology 2
  • Statistics and Psychology 2

Postgraduate

  • Research Methods
  • The Psychology of Child Development
  • Everyday Applications of Cognitive Pscyhology
 

 

Professional Activities

Honorary Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of York, UK

Fellow, Higher Education Academy (UK)

Peer Reviewing

Journals:

Cognition; Journal of Memory and Language; Developmental Science; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance; Psychonomic Bulletin and Review; Language and Cognitive Processes; Applied Psycholinguistics; Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Reading and Writing; Scientific Studies of Reading; Memory; Memory and Cognition; Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Funding bodies:

National Science Foundation (USA)

Conferences:

Cognitive Science Society; Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP); CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing

 

Research

My main research interest is in psychological and neural mechanisms supporting grammar learning and use in adults and children. I explore these questions using computational models, behavioral experiments, and neuroscientific methods of sleep research.

Current Projects

Role of memory consolidation processes in language learning (in collaboration with Gareth Gaskell, University of York)

The studies involve learning fictitious words such as darb and spling, and their plurals (e.g. 3 darbaff) or past tenses (e.g. splung or splinged). Participants in these studies are re-tested at several time points after learning (e.g. 15 mins or 12 hours after learning), to investigate the influence of memory consolidation processes on the memory for the fictitious words. In some experiments participants spend some time sleeping in the lab between training and testing while their brain activity is recorded.

This project was supported by an ESRC grant.

Grammar learning in middle childhood (in collaboration with Emma Hayiou-Thomas, University of York)

In these studies we investigate how children learn grammatical categories from multiple cues. We use made-up languages to simulate the process of learning real (natural) languages. For example, participants in these studies would learn that a fictitious word tib scoiffesh means ‘ballerina’, and ked thetaff means ‘priest’. In these studies, participants learn the new words through an iPad based Alien game. We manipulate the properties of the novel words (e.g. their individual sounds, or what they mean) in a systematic way to test different theories of grammar learning and use.

The role of socio-economic status and language experience in complex language skills (in collaboration with Lorna Hamilton)

In these studies we investigate the mechanism by which socio-economic status influences how quickly and efficiently we process complex language. With Jess Brown, the PhD student at the School, we are exploring how socio-economic status influences the type and the amount of complex language we are exposed to, and then how that exposure influences how easily we understand complex sentences, as well as the type of sentences we are likely to produce.

Publications

Book

Gaskell, G., & Mirković, J. (Eds.). (2016). Speech Perception and Spoken Word Recognition. Psychology Press.

Representative publications

Mirković, J., & Gaskell, M. G. (2016). Does sleep improve your grammar? Preferential consolidation of arbitrary components of new linguistic knowledge. PloS One, 11, e0152489.

Mirković, J. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013): When singular and plural are both grammatical: Semantic and morphophonological effects in agreement. Journal of Memory and Language, 69, 277-298.

Gennari, S. P., Mirković, J. & MacDonald, M. C. (2012): Animacy and competition in relative clause production: a cross-linguistic investigation. Cognitive Psychology, 65, 141-176.

Mirković, J., Seidenberg M. S. & Joanisse, M. F. (2011): Rules vs. statistics: Insights from a highly inflected language. Cognitive Science, 35, 638-681.

Altmann, G. T. M. & Mirković, J. (2009): Incrementality and prediction in human sentence processing. Cognitive Science, 33, 583-609.