Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative (ILLI)

The Timeliner, developed by Camille Goudeseune, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, and Thomas Huang, sorts through audio recordings in order to help humans easily and quickly find unusual sounds with visual cues. This spectrogram displays readings from an orchestral piece. The Timeliner (orange lines) interprets the recording (bottom, green display), and marks unusual sounds. In this recording, the unusual sounds of a video game, a robin chirping, and a bell dinging are shown by the bright white dot in the middle, the white squiggle at right, and the white dot at extreme right, respectively.

Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative (ILLI) is a strategic initiative to build a campus-wide community of faculty, researchers, and students to collaborate and share resources with regard to language and literacy.

Group leaderss: Kara D. Federmeier, Kiel Christianson

ILLI allows researchers to collaborate in a unique space, through the sharing of ideas and technological breakthroughs. At the Beckman Institute, ILLI researchers interested in language from biological and psychological perspectives collaborate with researchers from Illinois' top-ranked engineering programs to build not only new knowledge, but new tools and applications.

Studies in the ILLI Initiative involve:

  • Research aimed at uncovering the subprocesses involved in both language comprehension and production, from the mechanics of articulation and the biology of hearing to the development and use of cognitive representations of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, prosody, pragmatics
  • Studies on language in all its modalities (reading, listening, speaking, signing) and across the full richness of contexts, from reading single words, to conversing with others, to integrating language with other information sources in a classroom or on the internet
  • Work across the lifespan, including the development of concepts and early language skills in (even preterm) infants and children, through changes in language processing in healthy older adults and those with cognitive impairments.
  • Investigations of native and second language users, across an impressive sample of the world's languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, and ASL, among others)
  • Work on literacy development, including young and middle-aged adults who are developing literacy skills in their native language.

ILLI researchers look at individual differences, use interventions, and study applications in the context of education, artificial intelligence, engineering, and brain-machine interfaces. Their tools involve observational, behavioral, eye-tracking, computational, corpus-based, signal processing and neuroimaging work, including

  • human electrophysiological measures of neural processing (EEG and ERPs)
  • human electromagnetic measures of speech kinematics
  • magnetic resonance imaging (both structural and functional)
  • ultrasound
  • optical signals
  • stimulation techniques (TDCS and TMS)
  • signal processing
  • machine learning


ILLI Events