John Trueswell

Professor of Psychology

How is language interpreted in real-time?

Professor John Trueswell is a psycholinguist who studies language acquisition and language processing.

 Some of the fundamental questions that Professor Trueswell is interested in include:

  • How do humans so effortlessly interpret utterances in real-time, using incoming speech to compute a speaker’s intended meaning?
  • How do young children learn the meanings of words, and interpret syntactic structure?
  • How do the processing demands of real-time interpretation influence language acquisition, and possibly shape the languages of the world?
  • And conversely, does the language we speak change how we see and think about the world?

He has explored these questions through collaborations with other ILST faculty, allowing him to use a variety of research methods, including behavioral experimentation, eye tracking, computational modeling, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Advances have come from comparing individuals with different language backgrounds (cross-linguistic comparison), different cognitive abilities (individual differences within normal and impaired populations) and different levels of experience/maturation (developmental psycholinguistics).



Department of PsychologyUniversity of Pennsylvania
Office: Room 254, Stephen A. Levin Building, 425 S University Ave
Office Phone: (215) 898-0911
Lab Phone: (215) 898-0327


Publications can be found here. And, here is a copy of my CV as of September 2020.


People I’ve trained and worked with: