Welcome! 

 

Why are there so many different languages in the world?

How did this astonishing linguistic diversity come about?

And what are the social, environmental and cognitive pressures that shape the evolution of language in our species?

These are fascinating questions that represent the topics of my research so far. My work focuses on linking core aspects of language learning, cultural evolution, and language diversity using a range of novel behavioral paradigms and computational models.

My goal is to shed light on the communicative pressures and cognitive constraints that shape social interaction and language use in our species, and to identify the social, environmental, and cross-cultural factors that lead to language diversity and cross-linguistic variation. I am also interested in animal cognition and communication, child development, human history, space, and data analysis. 

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, led by Prof. Bart de Boer. 

 
 
 

About me 

 

I started my Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Cognitive Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Towards the end of my studies, I realized I am actually fascinated with what makes humans so unique. I was particularly excited about the link between language and cognition, which is why I decided to switch my math studies to Linguistics

I then continued to a Master's degree in Cognitive Science at the Hebrew University, focusing on Language Evolution and Statistical Learning. I worked at the Language Learning and Processing Lab led by Prof. Inbal Arnon, and also helped to co-found and manage the first Living Lab in Israel: a unique public-oriented research laboratory located inside the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem

I then continued to do a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, under the supervision of Prof. Antje Meyer. My research focused on simulating the cultural evolution of languages in different environments, and testing how the social environment affects the grammar of languages. I did this by developing a novel group communication paradigm (see picture on the side), which tested the live formation of new languages that were created in the lab by mini-societies of interacting people. I changed the conditions and makeup or these mini-societies to see how the social structure of the communities shapes the formation of languages, and asked questions like:

- Do languages develop differently in big vs. small groups?

- How long does it take for grammar to emerge in a sparse community? 

- Are languages created by bigger communities easier to learn?

If you're interested in finding the answers to these questions, check out some of my publications and media coverage!

After defending my PhD online (thanks Covid-19...), I spent a few months working with Prof. Gary Lupyan as a remote research associate at the  University of Wisconsin-Madison. These days, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at VUB, led by Prof. Bart de Boer. 

On a more personal note, I consider myself a fast learner with a charismatic and energetic personality, who is friendly, passionate, highly communicative, and in pursuit of new ideas. I find it important to contribute to the community beyond my work as a researcher, so I am actively engaged in the broader dissemination of my research to audience outside of academia (check out my Twitter feed!). I also actively promote open access by putting all data and scripts on OSF, advocate for having kind and supporting working environments, and advance gender diversity and equality in the programming community by organizing coding workshops for women by women (check out R-ladies Nijmegen for events!). 

 
 
 
 
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In my free time, I really enjoy spinning, rock climbing, and acroyoga. 

 

In the Media 

 

My work has received attention from international newspapers and science magazines, and was covered by venues such as The Times and The Economist. It also featured in popular linguistic podcasts such as Talk the Talk (aka Because Language) and The Dissenter Show. For the full list of media outlets that include my work, check out my CV

 

 
 
 
 
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Publications 

 

Published Peer-Reviewed Papers 

Raviv, L., de Heer Kloots, M., & Meyer, A. (2021). What makes a language easy to learn? A preregistered study on how systematic structure and community size affect language learnability. Cognition, 210, 104620. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104620 [download PDF] 

Raviv, L., Meyer, A., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). The role of social network structure in the emergence of linguistic structure. Cognitive Science, 44(8), e12876. doi:10.1111/cogs.12876 [download PDF] 

Raviv, L., Meyer, A., Lev-Ari, S. (2019b). Larger communities create more systematic languages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science, 286(1907). doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1262 [download PDF]

Raviv, L., Meyer, A., Lev-Ari, S. (2019a). Compositional structure can emerge without generational transmission. Cognition, 182, 151-164. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.010 [download PDF]

Raviv, L., & Arnon, I. (2018a). Systematicity, but not compositionality: Examining the emergence of linguistic structure in children and adults using iterated learning. Cognition, 181, 160-173. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.011

[download PDF]

Raviv, L., & Arnon, I. (2018b). The developmental trajectory of children’s auditory and visual statistical learning abilities: Modality-based differences in the effect of age. Developmental Science. 21(4): e12593. doi:10.1111/desc.12593 [download PDF]

Havron, N., Raviv, L., & Arnon, I. (2018). Literate and preliterate children show different learning patterns in an artificial language learning task. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 2, 21-33. doi:10.1007/s41809-018-0015-9  [download PDF]

Papers Under Review

Raviv, L., Green, S. C., & Lupyan, G. (Invited submission by Trends in Cognitive Science). How variability shapes learning and generalization.

Published Thesis

Raviv, L., (2020). Language and society: how social pressures shape grammatical structure. Doctoral Dissertation, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. ISBN: 78-94-92910-12-7. [download PDF]

Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings

Raviv, L., Meyer, A. & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). Network Structure and the Cultural Evolution of Linguistic Structure: A Group Communication Experiment. In Ravignani, A., Barbieri, C., Martins, M., Flaherty, M., Jadoul, Y., Lattenkamp, E., Little, H., Mudd, K. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (EvoLang13). doi:10.17617/2.3190925. [download PDF]

 

Thompson, B., Raviv, L. & Kirby, S. (2020). Complexity Can Be Maintained in Small Populations: A Model of Lexical Variability in Emerging Sign Languages. In Ravignani, A., Barbieri, C., Martins, M., Flaherty, M., Jadoul, Y., Lattenkamp, E., Little, H., Mudd, K. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (EvoLang13). doi:10.17617/2.3190925. [download PDF]

 

Lei, L., Raviv, L. & Alday, P. (2020). Using Spatial Visualizations and Real-World Social Networks to Understand Language Evolution and Change. In Ravignani, A., Barbieri, C., Martins, M., Flaherty, M., Jadoul, Y., Lattenkamp, E., Little, H., Mudd, K. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (EvoLang13). doi:10.17617/2.3190925. [download PDF]

 

Ergin, R., Raviv, L., Senghas, A., Padden, C. & Sandler, W. (2020). Community Structure Affects Convergence on Uniform Word Orders: Evidence From Emerging Sign Languages. In Ravignani, A., Barbieri, C., Martins, M., Flaherty, M., Jadoul, Y., Lattenkamp, E., Little, H., Mudd, K. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (EvoLang13). doi:10.17617/2.3190925. [download PDF]

Raviv, L., Meyer, A., & Lev-Ari, S. (2018). The role of community size in the emergence of linguistic structure. In Cuskley, C., Flaherty, M., Little, H., McCrohon, L., Ravignani, A. & Verhoef, T. (Eds.): The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference (EVOLANGXII). doi:10.12775/3991-1.096. [download PDF]

 

Raviv, L., & Arnon, I. (2016). Language evolution in the lab: The case of child learners. In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [download PDF]

 

Raviv, L., & Arnon, I. (2016). The developmental trajectory of children's statistical learning abilities. In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [download PDF]

 

 
 

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