This interdepartmental project investigates human conversation from linguistic, psychological and neurocognitive perspectives. Much of our current knowledge about language processing comes from studies of speakers producing or comprehending single words or short sentences in monologue laboratory settings. Our group aims to scale up the current knowledge about linguistic processing to its primary context for use: conversation. The researchers in the project come from a variety of backgrounds and employ a diverse set of methodologies, ranging from conversational analysis to fMRI, in order to study the interface between language and fundamental aspect of interaction.
Current research questions include:
- How is gesture integrated into the dialogue structure? How does this integration vary between individuals and cultures?
- What is the neurobiological infrastructure for dialogue?
- What is the role of the Theory of Mind network in dialogue?
- How do interlocutors predict the upcoming ends of turns? Which linguistic and non-linguistic cues do they rely on in doing so?
- Which indicators do speakers use to indicate that they wish to keep or yield the floor? Are any of those indicators universal?
- How do interlocutors co-ordinate listening and speech planning in time? What are the consequence of concurrent planning and listening in terms of processing load and the quality of both comprehension and production?
- When does production planning start, how is it staged, and what implications does that have for the way interlocutors distribute their cognitive resources between listening and speaking?
- How and when do children learn about turn-taking rules, and how do these come to interact with their linguistic and pragmatic development?
- How might universal properties of human interaction intersect with the cognitive processes behind the diverse array of linguistic structures in human language?
Svetlana Gerakaki, Allocation of attention in conversational settings (Supervisors: A. Meyer and M. Sjerps)
Mathias Barthel, The timing of conversational turn taking (Supervisors: S. Levinson and A. Meyer)
Rósa Signý Gisladottír, Speech act comprehension in spoken dialogue: an EEG study (Supervisors: S. Levinson and D. Chwilla)