Michiko Nakamura

DepartmentCenter for Meta-Learning
Specialized FieldsPsycholinguistics (Sentence processing, language acquisition)
Subjects in Charge
Academic BackgroundDepartment of Linguisitcs, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
DegreePh.D. in Linguistics
Personal HistoryMichiko Nakamura received her Ph.D. in Linguisitcs from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM). She worked as a 21st Century COE post-doctral fellow at the Computational Linguistics Laboratory at Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. Following a one-year adjuct assistant professor position at the Department of Linguistics at UHM, she worked as an academic advisor for the Office of Undergarduate Education (UHM) from 2006 to 2011.
Starting Time of EmploymentJanuary 1st, 2012

Research Contents

I am interested in understanding how people process linguistic information realtime and how children acquire language. For example, an extensive body of literature suggests that adult native speakers of Japanese do not wait till the end of of a sentence but start ocnstructing a tentative analysis of the input string as they read or hear each word of a sentence and anticipate what’s coming later in the sentence. My research involves examining how working memory is used in such realtime processing of language, how it is different crosslinguistically and why certain sentence structures are more difficult to process than others.

Attractive Factors of My Research

We speak at least one language, yet the mechanism of how we do (i.e., understand and produce language) has not been fully understood. For example, how is it possible that 3-or-4 years of children who cannot even tie their shoes or button their clothes properly have developed the mechanism that is very close to the one adults have? Language, one of the congitive systems, is uniquily human traits. To understand how we process or acquire language is to understand ourselves. This is why I am interested in this field.


I use empirical data to analyze realtime processing of language comprehension. Most of my previous work has been focusing on examining whether key findings and claims that have been developed based on English and other European langauges apply to typologically different langauges such as Japanese.

Major Books and Papers

Miyamoto, E.T. & Nakamura, M. (2013). Unmet expectations in the comprehension of relative clauses in Japanese. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3074-3079). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Nakamura, M. & Miyamoto, E.T. (2013). The object before subject bias and the processing of double-gap relative clauses in Japanese. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28:3, 303-334.

O’Grady, W., Nakamura, M., & Ito, Y. (2008). Want-to contraction in second language acquisition: An emergentist approach. Lingua 118, 478-498.

Nakamura, M. & Miyamoto, E.T. (2006). Crossed dependencies and plausibility factors in the interpretation of double-gap relative clauses in Japanese. Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society, 13, 369-391.

Miyamoto, E., & Nakamura, M. (2005). Unscrambling some misconceptions: a comment on Koizumi and Tamaoka (2004). Gengo Kenkyu (Journal of Linguistic Society of Japan), 128, 113-129.

Miyamoto, E., Nakamura, M., & Takahashi, S. (2004). Processing relative clauses in Japanese with two attachment sites. In Keir Moulton & Matthew Wolf (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistics Society (pp. 441-452).

Miyamoto, E., & Nakamura, M. (2004). Subject/object asymmetries in the processing of relative clauses in Japanese. In G. Garding & M. Tsujimura (Eds.), Proceedings of the 22nd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (pp.342-355).

Message to Students

Being a graduate student is tough. But it will be one of the greatest moments of your life. Study hard, meet with people from different backgrounds, and expand your horizons.