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date: 16 May 2021

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

The past decades have been an exciting time to work both in cognitive psychology and in psycholinguistics. In the 10 years since the publication of the first edition of this book, we’ve seen incredibly rapid changes in our field. Some of these changes have been driven by advances in experimental methods; others have been driven by the growing desire of cognitive scientists in all areas of research to understand their own field in relation to other cognitive domains. As psycholinguists, we remain fundamentally interested in how language works, but we recognize that the answers to our questions cannot be answered without considering how attention, memory, visual processing, social cognition, and so on, work as well. In addition, a growing number of researchers are interested in moving away from understanding language as a system of symbols to understanding how we achieve communication through language. In the current edition of this Handbook, we’ve tried to capture these exciting areas of growth; while many chapters cover traditional areas of psycholinguistics, wherever possible the authors explore new insights that novel experimental techniques and connections with other research domains have contributed to their own field.

The current edition is organized in five sections. In the first two sections (Language comprehension, Language production) an overview of traditional psycholinguistic domains is provided. Here, the reader can find excellent overviews of language research ranging from sublexical acoustic processing, through word comprehension and production, to the processing of complex sentences. In addition, links between language comprehension and production are explored. Section III looks at how we use language as a communicative tool in social interactions. This is a new section for the Handbook, and reflects the growing movement we see in our field to understand language in the social context. The fourth section looks at language development from both an ontogenetic and a phylogenetic perspective. This enhances focus on the evolution of language in comparison with the first edition, which reflects movement in the field to explore language in the context of other relevant domains. The final section explicitly outlines some of the novel techniques that have been used to investigate language over the past decade: authors present work ranging from new twists on older methods (e.g., statistical advances in language research) to completely novel methods (e.g., intracranial electrophysiology in the study of language). In sum, the Handbook aims to provide readers with an excellent overview of established research, but also to ignite interest in thinking about how language can be studied in novel ways and in relation to other cognitive domains.

The Handbook was only possible to pull together because so many amazing researchers were willing to offer their time and expertise so generously. Over 70 authors contributed to the chapters in this edition: we would like to extend our very warm thanks to all of them. We would also like to say thank you to Lois Perry, who helped us enormously with proofreading and keeping us organized, to the team at Oxford University Press, and to our families: Lou, Stan, and Frank Gaskell for unceasing inspiration, and Georg, Sophia, and Isabel Rueschemeyer for their patience and their energy. (p. vi)