Melanie is especially interested in understanding the cognitive processes involved in retrieving names for everyday objects. She carries out experimental and correlational work, which usually involves presenting pictures of objects on the screen of a computer and measuring the time people take to name the pictures.
One interesting effect that has been found by researchers in this field is that naming times are slowed when pictures from the same category are named (e.g., several pictures of animals). So one aspect of her research is directed at understanding this kind of semantic interference effect.
Another task that involves name retrieval for semantically related items is the category fluency task. Here, people are asked to generate as many items as they can for a given category e.g., animals. Melanie is interested in evaluating novel ways of assessing performance in this type of task.
Understanding the specific processes involved in category fluency and picture naming is important because both of these tasks are used by clinical neuropsychologists when screening for memory or language difficulties.