One of the most remarkable things about humans is our ability to take a finite number of words and use them to generate an infinite number of new meaningful sentences. You may have never heard the sentence, “There are no bears on Mars”, but you have no trouble understanding what it means. Not only can you understand it, you can judge that it is very likely true and make conclusions on that basis: if there are no bears on Mars, that means there are no brown bears there, no bear cubs, no bears climbing Martian trees.
How is it so easy for us to understand new sentences and think new thoughts, judge whether they’re true, and reason through to related thoughts and sentences? How do kids develop these abilities? These are the questions that Roman and his lab study.
Roman Feiman received his PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 2015. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard for a year, and at UC San Diego for another two. His work draws on a variety of approaches and methods from cognitive developmental psychology, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and formal semantics. He directs the Brown Language and Thought lab.