I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Neurobiology of Language group at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language (BCBL), where I am advised by Manuel Carreiras. Previously, I completed my doctoral studies in Psychology (Cognition and Perception) at New York University, where I worked in the Neuroscience of Language Lab (NeLLab) with PIs Alec Marantz and Liina Pylkkänen.
In my work, I am interested in language comprehension. I ask the question: How does the brain rapidly build such a rich, mutli-dimensional mental representation out of a mere one-dimensional stream of language symbols (say letters, or sounds)? Part of the answer is that the brain uses special processes to capture information that is not perceptible in the things we see, hear or read. Want to know more? Find out here.
My work uses a two-pronged approached to investigate syntactic processing: (i) complementary methods of recording neural activity, including electrophysiological recordings (using magnetoencephalography, or MEG) and neuroimaging (fMRI), and (ii) experimental designs that capitalize on grammatical properties of understudied languages (such as Arabic).
As a Palestinian who grew up in Haifa, I have always been surrounded by a mélange of many languages and dialects. I believe this exposure piqued my curiosity about the faculty of language from an early age. I am fluent in four languages (Arabic, English, Spanish, and Hebrew) and am an enthusiastic language learner.
Apart from sciencing, another major area of interest of mine involves language from a different angle—literature. I am an avid reader and a published author. I won the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s 2012 Young Palestinian Writer award for my collection of short stories “North of Andalusia, West of the Homeland” (original in Arabic: شمال الأندلس، غرب الوطن). I am also involved in a number of playwriting projects and have two poorly-maintained blogs: one for odds and ends and some translations, and another where I make up new words in Arabic for fun.
I also enjoy cooking, baking, and choral singing. Before 2020, I used to sing as a tenor in the New York University Chorale. (Previously, the University Singers [NYU; ‘16–‘17]; Ramallah-based Zaridash ensemble [‘13-‘16]).