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Personal profile

Biography

My research is in three areas of the psychology of language: child language acquisition, adult language processing, and neurolinguistics. In the study of child language development, I have contributed to the empirical assessment of the theory of Universal Grammar. For the last decade, my research has focused on children’s acquisition of semantic knowledge, in particular young children’s knowledge of logical expressions. Much of this has been cross-linguistic research, with a particular focus on Mandarin Chinese. 

I completed my Bachelor of Arts at the University of California Los Angeles in 1971 and my PhD at the University of California Irvine in 1980. My previous academic and leadership positions have either been in linguistics or in cognitive science. I was head of the Linguistics Department at the University of Connecticut (1991-1994) and was an investigator on grants on language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, a Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, CT. I was head of the Linguistics Department at the University of Maryland (1995-2003), where I established the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory (est. 1999) and the KIT/Maryland MEG Laboratory (est. 2001). As an ARC Federation Fellow, I proposed to investigate children's linguistic competence using a new methodology for functional brain imaging, called magnetoencephalography (MEG). Since coming to Australia in 2004, I have led international teams of researchers and engineers in the development of two MEG systems: (a) the first whole-head adult MEG system in Australasia (est. 2006), and (b) the world’s first MEG system to study cognitive processing in children (est. 2008). 

At Macquarie University, I have held the positions of Deputy Director, Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science (2004-2010), Director, KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Laboratory (2005-2010), and established and was the inaugural Director of the Centre for Language Sciences (2007-2010). In 2010 I was appointed a Macquarie University Distinguished Professor.  

Currently, I am Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD). The CCD is funded for 7 years from 2011, and investigates 5 areas of cognition: language, reading, belief formation, memory, and person perception. I am the Program Leader of the Language Program. I am also Director of the International Center of Child Language Health, in Beijing China, and I am Visiting Professor at the Beijing Language and Culture University, China, and at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, Japan.

External positions

Member, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), Humanities and Creative Arts (HCA) Research Evaluation Committee, Australian Research Council

2018

Fellow, The Royal Society of New South Wales

2015

Member, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), Humanities and Creative Arts (HCA), Research Evaluation Committee, Australian Research Council

2012

Member, Standing Review Board, Humanities and Social Sciences Panel, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong

20122018

Member, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

2011

Presidential Nominee, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT Corporation Visiting Committee

20112018

Chair, National Committee for Brain and Mind, Australian Academy of Science

20102014

Member, National Committee for Brain and Mind, Australian Academy of Science

20072014

Fellow, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA)

2006 → …

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Projects 2006 2021

Cognition Disorders
AIDS-Related Complex
Mars
Appointments and Schedules

Centre for Language Sciences (CLaS)

Thornton, R., Crain, S., Peters, P., Cupples, L., Johnston, T., Nickels, L., McMahon, C., Johnson, M., Armstrong, B., Cox, F., Harrison, R., Mannell, R., Napier, J., Newall, P., Rieschild, V., Slatyer, H., Tent, J., Lising, J., Mollering, M., Winchester-Seeto, T., Jensen, B., Palethorpe, S. & Tesan, G.

1/07/07 → …

Project: Research

Appointments and Schedules
Language

Research Outputs 1984 2019

Studying brain function in children using magnetoencephalography

Rapaport, H., Seymour, R. A., Sowman, P. F., Benikos, N., Stylianou, E., Johnson, B. W., Crain, S. & He, W., 8 Apr 2019, In : Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 146, 7 p., e58909.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File
Magnetoencephalography
Brain
Head Movements
Artifacts
Pediatrics

The interpretation of disjunction in VP ellipsis in Mandarin Chinese

Gao, N., Thornton, R., Zhou, P. & Crain, S., Apr 2019, Three streams of generative language acquisition research. Ionin, T. & Rispoli, M. (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, p. 107-124 18 p. (Language Acquisition and Language Disorders; vol. 63).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Open Access
interpretation
Linguistics
speaking
Group
linguistics

Understanding prosodic focus marking in Mandarin Chinese: data from children and adults

Chen, H. C., Szendrői, K., Crain, S. & Höhle, B., Feb 2019, In : Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 48, 1, p. 19–32 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

speaking
comprehension
Cues
Language
Mandarin Chinese

When OR is conjunctive in child Mandarin

Huang, D., Thornton, R. & Crain, S., Apr 2019, Three streams of generative language acquisition research. Ionin, T. & Rispoli, M. (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, p. 125-142 18 p. (Language Acquisition and Language Disorders; vol. 63).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Licensure
value judgement
interpretation
license

Children's comprehension of plural predicate conjunction*

Tieu, L., Romoli, J., Poortman, E. B., Winter, Y. & Crain, S., Jan 2018, In : Journal of Child Language. 45, 1, p. 242-259 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Preschool Children
Reading
comprehension
interpretation
syntax