Dr. Martin’s research focuses on the relationship between word processing and short-term memory and the implications for rehabilitation of word retrieval disorders. Within these domains, she conducts both theoretical and treatment-oriented investigations. A primary theoretical interest concerns the architecture of lexical retrieval processes and their relation to verbal STM processes. Through the study of speech errors of normal and aphasic populations, she has sought empirical evidence and corroborating data from computational modeling studies to support a model of lexical retrieval that assumes interaction of semantic and phonological processes over the time course of lexical retrieval.
Additionally, her studies investigating the relationship between word processing and short-term memory deficits in individuals with neurologically-based language impairment indicate a common mechanism underlying these deficits: the ability to maintain activation of semantic and phonological aspects of words. Depending on the severity of this activation maintenance deficit, it will result in a verbal short-term memory and aphasia (more severe cases) or verbal short-term memory without aphasia. This work, carried out in collaboration with the late Eleanor Saffran and Gary Dell (University of Illinois), has led to several new lines of research including the development of a computationally-instantiated cognitive model of word processing and short-term memory and studies of the effects of language impairment on learning.