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Finding Common Ground: On the neural mechanisms of communicative language production

What happens in your brain when you talk to someone? That is the central question in Flora Vanlangendonck’s PhD thesis ‘Finding common ground: On the neural mechanisms of communicative language production’. She will defend her thesis on March 29th at 12.30 at the Aula of Radboud University.
Finding Common Ground: On the neural mechanisms of communicative language production

To communicate efficiently, speakers need to take into account common ground, i.e. the information, knowledge and beliefs they share with their addressees. For example, you probably use different vocabulary when talking to a child compared to an adult and you are likely to give different directions to someone who is familiar with the environment than to someone who is not.

In a series of interactive eye-tracking and fMRI experiments, Vanlangendonck investigated how and when common ground affects the way speakers express themselves and the underlying neural processes. She found that speakers take common ground into account early on when planning their utterances. In addition, she found that brain regions that are active when you mentally put yourself in another person’s shoes are recruited when you need to consider common ground to communicate efficiently.

While most psycholinguistic experiments have ignored the social context in which we use language, these results highlight the importance of considering communicative and social influences on language processing.

 

Flora Vanlangendonck (Jette, 1987) studied Linguistics & Literature at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University Nijmegen. Her PhD project was funded by a TopTalent grant from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.

Neurobiology of Language

What is the neurobiological infrastructure for the uniquely human capacity for language? The focus of the Neurobiology of Language Department is on the study of language production, language comprehension, and language acquisition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Read more...

Director: Peter Hagoort

Secretary: Carolin Lorenz

 

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