Miss Erin Hawkins

Supervised by

  • Duncan Astle First/primary/lead supervisor


  • Kathy Rastle First/primary/lead supervisor


Educational background

In June 2011 I completed a BA (Hons) in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford (St Hugh's College). Following this I moved to the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway to embark on a PhD in September 2011.

Research interests

My research interests centre on the mechanisms underpinning the learning and representation of language in adults. Specifically, I am interested in the influence of i) semantic knowledge and ii) memory consolidation on spoken word learning. I am particularly interested in the way in which learning mechanisms interact with the offline consolidation process to influence the emergence of new lexical representations.

Word learning requires both the learning of a new phonological form and the integration of this form with existing lexical knowledge. It therefore poses a particularly interesting problem because it necessitates the use of some acquired linguistic information, such as representations of sounds or letters, alongside a process for this novel sensory input to become ‘word-like’. Whilst we are beginning to understand the general processes underpinning adult spoken word learning, relatively little is known what specifically influences this process, and the extent to which success depends on particular learning conditions (such as the presence of meaning, or deployment of attention to the phonological level of representation during learning). 

My doctoral research thus aims to address three key questions:

1. What is the role of meaning in acquiring new phonological and lexical representations?

2. What is the interaction between online learning and offline consolidation processes?

3. To what extent does semantic vs. non-semantic learning experience modulate the offline consolidation process newly-learnt words undergo?

To address these questions I am combining behavioural and EEG techniques to measure phonological and lexical representations, both immediately after learning and following a period of offline consolidation. 

For further information see www.rastlelab.com.


Weekly undergraduate workshop and lab class (PS1010: Research Methods in Psychology).

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