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Iris Berent

Iris Berent


Mailing Address:

125 NI (Nightingale Hall), Boston, MA 02115


  • Core knowledge, Experimental philosophy, Experimental Phonology, Language, Reading

Dr. Berent’s research seeks to unveil human nature and our intuitive understanding of it. To shed light on human nature, she explores the human capacity for language using phonology as a case study. Adopting a programmatic interdisciplinary approach, she examines whether phonology is constrained by abstract universal principles, and whether these principles are shared across language modalities—speech and sign. A second line of research investigates how laypeople reason about human nature. Of particular interest is whether our inborn cognitive capacities bias our understanding of what we know and who we think we are.

Iris Berent in the news

How human brains do language: one system, two channels

Contrary to popular belief, language is not limited to speech. In a recent study published in the journal PNAS, Northeastern University Prof. Iris Berent reveals that people also apply the rules of their spoken language to sign language.

Take 5: What makes human language so special?

In the 52nd annual Robert D. Klein Lecture, psychology professor Iris Berent argued that human language is a product of a specialized biological system, that we are innately equipped with a language instinct.