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Lera Boroditsky is a psychology professor at Stanford University in California doing research in Cognitive Science. She studies language and cognition, specifically focusing on interactions between language, cognition, and perception. Her first faculty position was at MIT in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, a job she got when only 23 years old.
Her research combines insights and methods from linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology. She has received several prestigious awards for her research including an NSF CAREER award, the Marr Prize from the Cognitive Science Society and being named a Searle Scholar. She is a leader in Cognitive Linguistics.
Her work has provided new insights on the controversial question of whether the languages we speak shape the way we think (commonly known as the Whorfian question). She was first to discover important empirical examples of cross-linguistic differences in thought and perception that stem from syntactic or lexical differences between languages. This work has changed the predominant belief in the fields of psychology, philosophy and linguistics that human cognition is largely universal and independent of language and culture. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, a long-term supporter of universalism, has said in interviews that Boroditsky is "a force to be reckoned with."
In addition to scholarly work, Boroditsky also gives popular science lectures to general public and has been featured in news and media outlets.
- Boroditsky, L. (2003). Linguistic Relativity. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, (pp.917-922). London: Macmillan.
- Boroditsky, L., Schmidt, L., & Phillips, W. (2003). Sex, Syntax, and Semantics. In Gentner & Goldin-Meadow (Eds.,) Language in Mind: Advances in the study of Language and Cognition. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
- Boroditsky, L. & Ramscar, M. (2002). The Roles of Body and Mind in Abstract Thought. Psychological Science, 13(2), 185-188.
- Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought? English and Mandarin speakers' conceptions of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43(1), 1-22.
- Boroditsky, L. (2000). Metaphoric Structuring: Understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition, 75(1), 1-28.
- Boroditsky's website
- Profile in the Boston Globe
- NPR interview (MP3)
- Story in the Economist
- Searle Scholars Profile
- Profile in San Francisco Guardian
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