Xiao Yang






About Me

I am a PhD student in Linguistics department at the University of Kansas. My research focuses on how our mind and brain process language at word, sentence and discourse levels, and how the parser rapidly and incrementally uses subtle linguistic information to construct complex meanings. My research also explores the variability among native speakers, comprehensively examining a range of individual abilities that subserve language processing.

In addressing these questions, my work implements a variety of experimental techniques, including offline judgment, eye tracking, and EEG (electroencephalography). I am experienced in experiment building, data collection and data analysis involved in these techniques, working with the Neurolinguistics and Language Processing Lab and the Developmental Psycholinguistics Lab at KU.

Research Projects

  • Processing tense mismatch in Mandarin (sponsored by KU Doctoral Student Research Fund)
  • Although lacking tense morphology, Chinese has various tense and aspect markers encoding complex temporal properties of events. Native speakers show sensitivity to tense agreement in online processing (e.g., Zhang & Zhang, 2008). In my dissertation project, I will use ERP to examine the processing of different kinds of tense mismatch in Mandarin.

  • Individual differences in computing context-driven meanings
  • Yang. (January, 2018). Talk at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai
    Yang, Fiorentino, and Minai. (2017). Poster at the 30th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing [pdf]

    Native speakers are known to show robust individual variability in interpreting some in underinformative sentences like "some elephants are animals", regarding to what extent the word is interpreted with a "not all" implicature. We investigated whether this variability extends to the interpretation of some in conversation contexts establishing the “not all” interpretation as either relevant or irrelevant, and tested participants on a battery of measures assessing individual cognitive resources, socio-pragmatic abilities, and language skills that have been argued to affect the interpretation. Our results revealed for the first time robust individual differences in sensitivity to context when interpreting some, which was modulated by both cognitive resources and socio-pragmatic abilities, suggesting multiple factors involved in computing context-dependent meanings.

  • Tone sandhi in Mandarin Chinese
  • Chien, Fiorentino, Yang, and Sereno. (2016). Surface phonetic or underlying phonological representations: A mismatch negativity study of Mandarin tone assimilation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 140. 3224-3225. DOI: 10.1121/1.4970182.



  • Introductory Linguistics (as teaching assistant and as independent instructor) - Fall 2014 to present
  • Neurolinguistics I & II (as EEG lab demo leader) - Fall 2015 to present
  • Linguistics Capstone: Research in Language Science (as guest lecturer) - Fall 2017

Research Consultation:

  • Linguistics Capstone: Research in Language Science (as graduate research consultant) - Fall 2017


  • CHIN204/208 Second-year Chinese (as drill class instructor) - Fall 2015 to Spring 2016





Xiao Yang
1541 Lilac Lane
Blake Hall, Room 427
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129