Accessibility statement

Vanessa Keller
PhD Student



I completed my undergraduate degree in English Linguistics at the University of Zurich in 2020, before moving to the UK to study for an MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge (2020-2021), followed by an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of York (2021-2022).

My MPhil research was concerned with implicit learning in adult language acquisition. During my MSc, I worked on a project investigating the neural underpinnings of spatial representations using magnetoencephalography. My PhD research aims to characterise the learning mechanisms and underlying neural substrates that support flexible language comprehension.


  • PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, University of York (2022-present)
  • MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, University of York (2021-2022)
  • MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, University of Cambridge (2020-2021)
  • BA in English Linguistics, University of Zurich (2016-2020)

Departmental roles

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant



Hippocampal contributions to language comprehension and linguistic optimisation


My research project aims to characterise the neural substrates underpinning successful language comprehension and the type of adaptive learning listeners engage in to optimise future interpretations. Previous research suggests that the hippocampus might play an important role in language comprehension by encoding episodic representations of the linguistic input. These memory representations can then be used to update stored language knowledge, for instance by making a recently encountered meaning of an ambiguous word more easily accessible. This process serves to ensure that the stored representations accurately reflect the statistics of the linguistic environment. In a series of experiments using behavioural testing and neuroimaging, my project aims to better describe the role of the hippocampus in this “fine-tuning” of stored word meanings and to characterise the memory consolidation processes during sleep that might support this.

Research group(s)

  • Sleep, Language and Memory (SLAM) Lab
  • Emotional Processing and Offline Consolidation (EPOC) Lab


  • Departmental Studentship
  • Departmental MSc Project Prize


  • Professor Gareth Gaskell (PhD Supervisor)
  • Dr Scott Cairney (PhD Supervisor)



  • Brain & Behaviour tutorials (Y1 & 2)
  • Development & Language tutorials (Y1 & 2)


Contact details

Vanessa Keller
PhD student
Department of Psychology
University of York