Research projects within the Cultural Brain research group fall into one of three categories. To find out more information about these categories, as well as our current projects, click on the relevant section below.
- The Literate Brain
Reading, writing, music. All three of these things are relatively recent inventions in the grand scale of things. The literate brain is just a tiny fraction of our existence as homo sapiens. Despite this fact, we have learned almost everything we know about the human brain by examining the literate brain.
For example, to be able to read, the ability to process complex orthographic patterns must connect with existing language processing systems. The same applies to reading musical notes.
In our research we examine this process and try to answer these fundamental questions:
- How does a pre-literate mind/brain become literate?
- How does variation in script, language (or music), or in the pre-literate brain itself, affect this process?
To read about specific projects we are currently working on within this theme, please visit the Literate Brain section of the Cultural Brain website.
Huettig, F., Lachmann, T., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2018). Distinguishing cause from effect – Many deficits associated with developmental dyslexia may be a consequence of reduced and suboptimal reading experience. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(3), 333-350. doi:10.1080/23273798.2017.1348528.
Huettig, F., Kolinsky, R., Lachmann, T. (2018). The culturally co-opted brain: how literacy affects the human mind. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(3), 275-277. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1425803.
Huettig, F., Mishra, R. K., & Padakannaya, P. (2017). Editorial. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 1(1), 1. doi:10.1007/s41809-017-0006-2.
Skeide, M. A., Kumar, U., Mishra, R. K., Tripathi, V. N., Guleria, A., Singh, J. P., Eisner, F., & Huettig, F. (2017). Learning to read alters cortico-subcortical crosstalk in the visual system of illiterates. Science Advances, 5(3): e1602612. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1602612.
- The Predictive Brain
It is often claimed that prediction is a - if not the - fundamental principle of human cognition and brain functioning.
Research into language processing should shed some light onto this claim, especially since linguists have often argued that prediction plays only a minor role in language understanding.
Within this theme, we pay particular attention to linguistic, individual, and cultural variation. For example, some of our experimental studies show that individual differences in working memory, reading ability, and processing speed predict anticipatory spoken language processing in the visual world. Our experimental data also strongly suggest that multiple mechanisms simultaneously influence how we anticipate upcoming linguistic input and that only such a dynamic approach to prediction can capture the language user’s prowess at predictive language processing.
To read about specific projects we are currently working on within this theme, please visit the Predictive Brain section of the Cultural Brain website.
Nieuwland, M. S., Politzer-Ahles, S., Heyselaar, E., Segaert, K., Darley, E., Kazanina, N., … & Huettig, F. (2018). Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension. eLife, 7, e33468. doi: 10.7554/eLife.33468
Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2017). Predictors of verb-mediated anticipatory eye movements in the visual world. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(9), 1352-1374. doi:10.1037/xlm0000388.
- The Multimodal Brain
When we read language, arbitrary visual script characters are mapped onto corresponding units of spoken language. The same also applies to reading music. These are "multimodal mapping processes", which have an impact on our modal brains.
Within this theme, we study the impact of cultural interventions on brain cognition as a tool to examine underlying processing dynamics from sensorimotor systems to high-level integration systems.
We explore the idea that language directly engages these modality-specific systems rather than duplicating or "re-enacting" events in the "outside world".
To read about specific projects we are currently working on within this theme, please visit the Multimodal Brain section of the Cultural Brain website.
De Groot, F., Huettig, F., & Olivers, C. N. L. (2017). Language-induced visual and semantic biases in visual search are subject to task requirements. Visual Cognition, 25, 225-240. doi:10.1080/13506285.2017.1324934.
Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (2017). A task-dependent causal role for low-level visual processes in spoken word comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(8), 1215-1224. doi:10.1037/xlm0000375.
Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (2017). Spoken words can make the invisible visible – Testing the involvement of low-level visual representations in spoken word processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 499-508. doi:10.1037/xhp0000313.