Personal profile

Research interests

I am a cognitive psychologist with a special interest in the processes and mechanisms underlying language. My research is specifically concerned with those engaged when humans speak (as opposed to when they comprehend language). I investigate the way in which humans cognitively develop intentions of what they are trying to say, the way in which words are organised in and retrieved from a mental lexicon for the purpose of the utterance, and the processes involved in generating the appropriate articulation. Much of my work is laboratory-based and explores performance of healthy adult individuals, but I have also contributed to neuroimaging research (e.g., Maess et al., 2002; Zhang et al., 2007; Zhang & Damian, 2009), studies of acquired brain damage (e.g., Martin et al., 1999; Wu et al., 2002), and developmental studies of language processing (e.g., Jerger et al., 2002, 2015, 2006, 2009, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).

Another area of my research concerns orthographic output tasks such as handwriting, typing, and spelling, and specifically the parallels and dissimilarities between writing and speaking (e.g., Damian, 2019; Rapp & Damian, 2018; Damian & Stadthagen-Gonzalez, 2009; Damian & Freeman, 2008; Zhang & Damian, 2010; Damian, Dorjee & Stadthagen-Gonzalez, 2011). I am particularly intrigued by the psychological and linguistic properties of non-Western languages such as Chinese Mandarin (e.g., Qu, Damian & Kazanina, 2012; Zhang & Damian, 2010, 2011), both in spoken (e.g., Zhang & Damian, 2019; Qu & Damian, 2018; Zhang, Zhu & Damian, 2018) and in written (e.g., Damian & Qu; 2019; Qu & Damian, 2018, 2019) form.

Recently, I have developed a strong interest in the psychology and neuroscience of bilingualism (e.g., Stadthagen-Gonzalez et al, 2017; Damian et al., 2018; Qu & Damian, 2019; Moreno-Stokoe & Damian, 2020) and this has lead me to a broader interest in ‘cognitive control’ (roughly, the capacity to set and maintain goals, to ignore irrelevant influences on to focus on relevant dimensions, and to switch between different types of activities). This work, currently funded by the Leverhulme Trust, explores the interplay between bilingualism and cognitive control (e.g., Damian et al., 2018) but I am also more broadly interested in the potential consequences of the environment on core cognitive skills (i.e., cognitive plasticity) across the entire lifespan.


Recent and current grants

Damian, M. F.. Does being bilingual work wonders for your brain? Grant funded by the Leverhulme Foundation. September 2019-August 2022. Principal investigator.

Qu, Q. (2017). The functional unit of phonological encoding in Chinese spoken production: Study on phonemes. National Natural Science Foundation of China. January 2018-December 2021. Co-investigator.

Mota, M., & Damian, M. F. The effects of literacy on speech production: a study with Brazilian children. Newton Mobility Grant, British Academy. March 2015-Feb 2016. Co-investigator.

Jerger, S. Auditory speech processing by hearing impaired children. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. July 2009-June 2014. Consultant.

Damian, M. F. Investigating the properties of handwritten word production via languages with non-alphabetic scripts. April 2010-March 2012. Grant funded by the British Academy. Principal investigator.

Damian, M. F., & Stadthagen-Gonzalez, H. Role of phonological and suprasegmental codes in handwritten production. Grant funded by the ESRC. March 2008-March 2010. Principal investigator.

Damian, M. F. Comparing and contrasting persistent repetition priming in written and spoken word production. Grant funded by the ESRC. January 2008-December 2008. Principal investigator.

Zhang, Q., & Damian, M. F. Roles of phonology and orthography in spoken and written language production. International Incoming Fellowship by the Royal Society awarded to Zhang and Damian. January 2008-December 2008.

Spalek. K., & Damian, M. F. Dynamic semantic representations in language production. Grant funded by the ESRC, January 2007-December 2007. Co-investigator.


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