I’m Roberto, Ph.D. student in Linguistics at University of Connecticut since August 2013. My main interests are morpho-phonological theory and speech perception.
At Università degli Studi di Siena (Siena, Italy), for my MA thesis I conducted an EEG (electroencephalography) experiment and analyzed brain responses to Italian VCV syllables and trying to find some information about how we store morpho-phonological information.
At UConn, my research interests have developed on two levels – theoretical and experimental. My theoretical research focuses on the interaction between morphology and phonology. Allomorphy has been explained by employing suppletion, thus relegating phonology to trivial optimalizing operations such as assimilation, deletion or insertion. However, such an assumption mistakenly leads to missing morpho-phonological generalizations, which may indeed open up to a broader perspective to look at morphological phenomena; in this sense, suppletion should be argued for only when no reasonable morpho-phonological process is available.
My experimental interests instead investigates how speech sounds are recognized – which means, how the brain decodes the acoustic input and encodes it in neural code; as things stand now, we know little about what the underlying mechanisms of such process are. Recently, ERP (Event-Related Potential) data have provided some evidence that the auditory areas are more sensitive to featurally specified sounds, whereas underspecified sounds evoke a lower neuro-physiological response. However, such an assumption is heavily challenged by theoretical research on phonological specification suggesting instead that a fully specified account is to be preferred. My current project aims at dealing with this apparent contradiction, by testing comparing the brain response to non-linguistic stimuli as compared to linguistic stimuli. This perfectly matches with the aims of the NSF-funded IGERT Language Plasticity program I am part of at UConn.
I am a very pensive person – I often get lost in my thoughts, and only a good swim can shake it all off! I’ve been swimming for more than 10 years up to now, so it’s very likely that you’ll find me in some pool nearby.
Click the links in the top bar to learn more about my research, view my CV, download my papers and handouts, and see the courses I’ve taught.