Lise Abrams

Peter W. Stanley Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science; Chair of Linguistics and Cognitive Science
Lise Abrams
  • Expertise


    Professor Abrams's research program investigates language and memory processes in younger and older adults, specifically (a) the processes involved in comprehending and producing words, and (b) linguistic, cognitive and non-cognitive factors that influence these processes. She is interested in the causes underlying real-world retrieval problems, including tip-of-the-tongue states, proper name recall, interference from taboo words, and spelling errors.

    Research Interests

    • Processes involved in comprehending and producing words
    • Linguistic, cognitive and non-cognitive factors that influence speech production
    • Causes underlying real-world retrieval problems

    Areas of Expertise

    • Language and memory
    • Speech production
    • Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states
    • Cognitive aging
    • Bilingualism
  • Work


    Recent Publications

    With Shafto, M. A, James, L. E., & Cam-CAN. (2019). “Age-related changes in word retrieval vary by self-reported anxiety but not depression symptoms.” Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition26, 767-780. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2018.1527284

    With Leon, S. A., Altmann, L. J. P., Gonzalez Rothi, L. J., & Heilman, K. M. (2019). “Novel associative processing and aging: Effect on creative production.” Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 26, 807-822. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2018.1532067

    With White, K. K., Hsi, L. R., & Watkins, E. C. (2018). “Are precues effective in proactively controlling taboo interference during speech production?” Cognition and Emotion, 32, 1625-1636. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2018.1433637

    With Davis, D. K. (2017). “Competitors or teammates: How proper names influence each other,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 87-93. doi: 10.1177/0963721416677804

    With Shafto, M. A, James, L. E., Tyler, L. K., & Cam-CAN. (2017). “Age-related increases in verbal knowledge are not associated with word finding problems in the Cam-CAN cohort: What you know won't hurt you.” Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 72, 100-106. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw074

    With White, K. K., Koehler, S. M., & Collins, R. J. (2017). “Lions, tigers, and bears, oh sh!t: Semantics versus tabooness in speech production,” Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 24, 489-495. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1084-8

    With Davis, D. K. (2016). “Here's looking at you: Visual similarity exacerbates the Moses illusion for semantically similar celebrities,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 75-90. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000144

    With Davis, D. K. (2016). “The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: Who, what, and why,” In H. H. Wright (Ed.), Cognition, Language, and Aging (pp. 13-53). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/z.200.02abr

    With White, K. K., LaBat, L. R., & Rhynes, A. M. (2016). “Competing influences of emotion and phonology during picture-word interference,” Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 31, 265-283. doi: 10.1080/23273798.2015.1101144

    With Farrell, M. T. (2014). “Picture-word interference reveals inhibitory effects of syllable frequency on lexical selection,” The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 525-541. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2013.820763

    With Pelham, S. D. (2014). “Cognitive advantages and disadvantages in early and late bilinguals,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40, 313-325. doi: 10.1037/a0035224

    Media Coverage

    Why are names so hard to remember? NRC News, November, 2019

    Why do you sometimes keep the words on "the tip of your tongue" and how to prevent it? BBC News Mundo, January, 2019

    The New York Times, Smarter Living: “Why you can't think of the word that's on the tip of your tongue.” October 2017

    Quartz: “The best way to remember a word that's on the tip of your tongue.” June 2017

    Association for Psychological Science, APS Observer: “Why it's so hard to remember people's names.” March 2017

  • Education


    Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

    M.A., University of California, Los Angeles

    B.A., Pomona College

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2019

    Marquis Who’s Who Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, 2019

    Peter W. Stanley Chair of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Pomona College, 2018

    Fellow, Gerontological Society of America, 2014

    Fellow, Psychonomic Society, 2014

    Resident Fellow, IAU College, Aix-en-Provence, France, 2013-2014

    Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, University of Florida, 2012

    Fellow, American Psychological Association, 2011

    Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel, 2011

    Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award, 2007

    APA Division 20 and the Retirement Research Foundation Mentor Award in Adult Development and Aging, 2007

    Women in Cognitive Science Mentorship Award, 2004

    National Institute on Aging (PI), $71,154 Grant, “Contextual Relevance in Detecting Misspellings in Old Age” 2001-2002

    National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, University of California Los Angeles, 1991-1995