Jason Zevin, Ph.D.

Jason Zevin's picture
Senior Scientist, Haskins Laboratories


Associate Professor of Psychology and Linguistics
University of Southern California


Department of Psychology
University of Southern California - SGM 501
3620 South McClintock Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Phone: +1 213 810 0815
Fax:+1 213 746 9082
Email: zevin@usc.edu


2003 Ph.D., Graduate Program in Neuroscience
University of Southern California

1998 A.B., Psychology magna
Washington University in St.  Louis

Research Interests

My research is focused on how domain-general perceptual and learning processes give rise to specialized language functions in reading and speech perception. My work on reading is driven by large-scale PDP models that learn to map among the written forms of words, their pronunciations, and their meanings. The models instantiate the theory that there is a universal functional architecture for reading across languages, despite large surface di erences in writing systems. Testing predictions from the models involves collecting behavioral and functional neuroimaging data as part of a network of researchers in eight countries. Because the kinds of models I use have an important learning component, they can be used to address questions about typical and atypical development. I have recently begun work on a number of large-scale collaborative projects fo- cused on this translational application of modeling. One exciting new direction in this work is the development of new techniques for relating computational models to neurobiological models that provide an alternative to the “box and arrow” approach still common in cognitive neuroscience. Because reading is a multimodal skill that involves phonological and semantic representations, as well as processing of arbitrary visual codes, my work with reading models has also inspired research on other aspects of language, particularly speech perception. Modeling of “age of acquisition” effects in reading suggested that loss of behavioral plasticity could be attributed in part to the organization of neural networks in response to experience. This led to a series of experiments examining behavior and brain activity related to perception of non-native speech contrasts. A central premise of that research was that brain responses would be more informative than behavioral responses, especially when collected in “passive” tasks. Some surprising results { along with a set of experiments involving novel approaches to the analysis of data collected under more ecologically valid conditions — have lead to a re-orientation of this work toward a focus on how speech can be processed at multiple levels of description simultaneously, and how native and non-native speakers di er in how they weigh these levels of description during comprehension. This also has interesting consequences for how we think about changes in responses to speech over the course of development.


*Dikker, S., Silbert, L. J., Hasson, U. & Zevin, J.D. (2014). On the same wavelength:  Predictable language enhances speaker-listener brain-to-brain synchrony in posterior superior temporal gyrus Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 6267-6272.

Yoncheva, Y., Maurer, U., Zevin, J.D., & McCandliss, B. (2014).  Selective attention to phonology dynamically modulates initial encoding of auditory words within the left hemisphere. NeuroImage, 97, 262-270.

Emberson, L.L., Liu, R., & Zevin J.D. (2013) Finding functional units amidst perceptual variability:  Or  how  is  statistical  learning  accomplished  using  varying  exemplars  of  complex,  novel  sound categories? Cognition, 128, 82-102.

*Yang  J,F.  Shu  H,  McCandliss  B.D.  & Zevin J.D. (2013)  Orthographic  infuences  on  division of labor in learning to read Chinese and English:  Insights from computational modeling. Bilingualism:  Language and Cognition, 16, 354-366.

Archila-Suerte,  P., Zevin  J.D.,  Ramos,  A.I.,  &  Hernandez,  A.E.  (2013)  The  neural  basis  of non-native speech perception in bilingual children. Neuroimage, 67, 51-63.

Supported ​Grant

P01 HD070837 (PIs: Morris, Pugh & Lovett)