Laura Batterink

Dr. Laura Batterink

Cognitive, Developmental and Brain Sciences

Office: WIRB 5140
Tel: 519-661-2111 ext. 85409
Curriculum Vitae

  • Bio

  • Publications

  • Research

Biographical Information

I am a cognitive neuroscientist broadly interested in many aspects of learning, with a particular interest in how implicit and explicit memory mechanisms contribute to language acquisition. My research training began at Middlebury College, a small liberal arts college in Middlebury Vermont, where I majored in neuroscience.   I earned my BA from Middlebury in 2007 and then attended graduate school at the University of Oregon, where I was mentored by Dr. Helen Neville.  After earning my Ph.D. in 2012, I completed several years of postdoctoral training at Northwestern University, working with Drs. Ken Paller and Paul Reber. In 2018 I joined the faculty at Western and am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and core member of the Brain and Mind Institute.

Selected Publications

Batterink, L. (2017). Rapid statistical learning supporting word extraction from continuous speech.  Psychological Science, 28, 921-928.

Batterink, L., & Paller, K. A. (2017). Online neural monitoring of statistical learning.  Cortex, 90, 31-45.

Batterink, L. & Paller, K. A. (2017). Vocabulary learning benefits from REM after slow-wave sleep.  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 144, 102-113.

Batterink, L. & Paller, K. A. (2017). Sleep-based memory processing facilitates grammatical generalization: Evidence from targeted memory reactivation.  Brain and Language, 167, 83-93Special Issue on Sleep and Language Learning.

Batterink, L., Creery, J. D., & Paller, K. A.  (2016). Phase of spontaneous slow oscillations during sleep influences memory-related processing of auditory cues. Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 1401-1409.

Batterink, L., Reber, P. J., & Paller, K. A.  (2015). Functional differences between statistical learning with and without explicit training.  Learning and Memory, 22, 544-556.

Batterink, L., Reber, P. J., Neville, H., & Paller, K.A.  (2015).  Implicit and explicit contributions to statistical learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 83, 62-78.

Batterink, L., Oudiette, D., Reber, P. J., & Paller, K. A. (2014).  Sleep facilitates learning a new linguistic rule.  Neuropsychologia, 65, 169-179.

Batterink, L. & Neville, H.  (2014).  ERPs recorded during early second language exposure predict syntactic learning.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26, 2005-2020.

Batterink, L. & Neville, H.  (2013).  The human brain processes syntax in the absence of conscious awareness.  Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 8528-8533.

Batterink, L. & Neville, H.  (2013).  Implicit and explicit second language training recruit common neural mechanisms for syntactic processing.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 936-951.

Batterink, L., Karns, C.M., & Neville, H. (2012).  Dissociable mechanisms supporting awareness: The P300 and gamma in a linguistic attentional blink task.  Cerebral Cortex, 22, 2733-2744.

Batterink, L., & Neville, H.  (2011). Implicit and explicit mechanisms of word learning in a narrative context: An event-related potential study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 3181-3196.

Batterink, L., Karns, C. M., Yamada, Y., & Neville, H. (2010). The role of awareness in semantic and syntactic processing: An ERP attentional blink study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 2514-2529.


Language contains countless regularities or patterns, many of which are seemingly arbitrary, even to a native speaker. Patterns exist at virtually every level. For example, in English, nouns that refer to more than one thing usually end in “s” (morphology). Articles such as “the” or “my” are usually followed by nouns, and never by verbs (syntax). And certain sounds commonly co-occur (e.g., pl or sl) while other sound combinations are never found (e.g., tl; phonology).

My recent research is premised on the idea that picking up these sorts of linguistic patterns can be a form of implicit learning — which occurs incidentally, without intention to learn, producing knowledge that is inaccessible to awareness. Children acquiring their native language typically learn these regularities implicitly, whereas adults may potentially learn these linguistic patterns either explicitly or implicitly. I am also investigating the related idea that language learning is shaped by implicit processing during sleep. Characterizing the role of implicit learning in language acquisition has important implications for understanding why language acquisition becomes so much more effortful later in life. A related goal is to identify optimal learning conditions for language across the lifespan.

To address these issues, I use cognitive neuroscience methods, primarily EEG and event-related potential (ERP) techniques, including methods such as phase-locking and time-frequency analyses. As a direct measure of neural processing that does not require an overt behavioral response, EEG is well suited to addressing questions related to implicit processing, often yielding insights that could not be gained with behavioral methods alone.

Here are a few of the research questions that I’m currently tackling:

  • Does picking up on statistical linguistic patterns in the environment (known as “statistical learning”) occur equally rapidly in infants and adults?
  • Can statistical learning occur outside of focused attention?  Outside of awareness?
  • How can we manipulate sleep to enhance different aspects of language learning?

If you are intrigued by these sorts of questions and are interested in becoming involved in research in my lab, please contact me!