Displaying 1 - 38 of 38
  • Bartolozzi, F., Jongman, S. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Concurrent speech planning does not eliminate repetition priming from spoken words: Evidence from linguistic dual-tasking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(3), 466-480. doi:10.1037/xlm0000944.

    Abstract

    In conversation, production and comprehension processes may overlap, causing interference. In 3 experiments, we investigated whether repetition priming can work as a supporting device, reducing costs associated with linguistic dual-tasking. Experiment 1 established the rate of decay of repetition priming from spoken words to picture naming for primes embedded in sentences. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated whether the rate of decay was faster when participants comprehended the prime while planning to name unrelated pictures. In all experiments, the primed picture followed the sentences featuring the prime on the same trial, or 10 or 50 trials later. The results of the 3 experiments were strikingly similar: robust repetition priming was observed when the primed picture followed the prime sentence. Thus, repetition priming was observed even when the primes were processed while the participants prepared an unrelated spoken utterance. Priming might, therefore, support utterance planning in conversation, where speakers routinely listen while planning their utterances.

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  • Çetinçelik, M., Rowland, C. F., & Snijders, T. M. (2021). Do the eyes have it? A systematic review on the role of eye gaze in infant language development. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 589096. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589096.

    Abstract

    Eye gaze is a ubiquitous cue in child-caregiver interactions and infants are highly attentive to eye gaze from very early on. However, the question of why infants show gaze-sensitive behavior, and what role this sensitivity to gaze plays in their language development, is not yet well-understood. To gain a better understanding of the role of eye gaze in infants’ language learning, we conducted a broad systematic review of the developmental literature for all studies that investigate the role of eye gaze in infants’ language development. Across 77 peer-reviewed articles containing data from typically-developing human infants (0-24 months) in the domain of language development we identified two broad themes. The first tracked the effect of eye gaze on four developmental domains: (1) vocabulary development, (2) word-object mapping, (3) object processing, and (4) speech processing. Overall, there is considerable evidence that infants learn more about objects and are more likely to form word-object mappings in the presence of eye gaze cues, both of which are necessary for learning words. In addition, there is good evidence for longitudinal relationships between infants’ gaze following abilities and later receptive and expressive vocabulary. However, many domains (e.g. speech processing) are understudied; further work is needed to decide whether gaze effects are specific to tasks such as word-object mapping, or whether they reflect a general learning enhancement mechanism. The second theme explored the reasons why eye gaze might be facilitative for learning, addressing the question of whether eye gaze is treated by infants as a specialized socio-cognitive cue. We concluded that the balance of evidence supports the idea that eye gaze facilitates infants’ learning by enhancing their arousal, memory and attentional capacities to a greater extent than other low-level attentional cues. However, as yet, there are too few studies that directly compare the effect of eye gaze cues and non-social, attentional cues for strong conclusions to be drawn. We also suggest there might be a developmental effect, with eye gaze, over the course of the first two years of life, developing into a truly ostensive cue that enhances language learning across the board.

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  • Coopmans, C. W., De Hoop, H., Kaushik, K., Hagoort, P., & Martin, A. E. (2021). Structure-(in)dependent interpretation of phrases in humans and LSTMs. In Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL 2021) (pp. 459-463).

    Abstract

    In this study, we compared the performance of a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network to the behavior of human participants on a language task that requires hierarchically structured knowledge. We show that humans interpret ambiguous noun phrases, such as second blue ball, in line with their hierarchical constituent structure. LSTMs, instead, only do so after unambiguous training, and they do not systematically generalize to novel items. Overall, the results of our simulations indicate that a model can behave hierarchically without relying on hierarchical constituent structure.
  • Den Hoed, J., De Boer, E., Voisin, N., Dingemans, A. J. M., Guex, N., Wiel, L., Nellaker, C., Amudhavalli, S. M., Banka, S., Bena, F. S., Ben-Zeev, B., Bonagura, V. R., Bruel, A.-L., Brunet, T., Brunner, H. G., Chew, H. B., Chrast, J., Cimbalistienė, L., Coon, H., The DDD study, Délot, E. C. and 77 moreDen Hoed, J., De Boer, E., Voisin, N., Dingemans, A. J. M., Guex, N., Wiel, L., Nellaker, C., Amudhavalli, S. M., Banka, S., Bena, F. S., Ben-Zeev, B., Bonagura, V. R., Bruel, A.-L., Brunet, T., Brunner, H. G., Chew, H. B., Chrast, J., Cimbalistienė, L., Coon, H., The DDD study, Délot, E. C., Démurger, F., Denommé-Pichon, A.-S., Depienne, C., Donnai, D., Dyment, D. A., Elpeleg, O., Faivre, L., Gilissen, C., Granger, L., Haber, B., Hachiya, Y., Hamzavi Abedi, Y., Hanebeck, J., Hehir-Kwa, J. Y., Horist, B., Itai, T., Jackson, A., Jewell, R., Jones, K. L., Joss, S., Kashii, H., Kato, M., Kattentidt-Mouravieva, A. A., Kok, F., Kotzaeridou, U., Krishnamurthy, V., Kučinskas, V., Kuechler, A., Lavillaureix, A., Liu, P., Manwaring, L., Matsumoto, N., Mazel, B., McWalter, K., Meiner, V., Mikati, M. A., Miyatake, S., Mizuguchi, T., Moey, L. H., Mohammed, S., Mor-Shaked, H., Mountford, H., Newbury-Ecob, R., Odent, S., Orec, L., Osmond, M., Palculict, T. B., Parker, M., Petersen, A., Pfundt, R., Preikšaitienė, E., Radtke, K., Ranza, E., Rosenfeld, J. A., Santiago-Sim, T., Schwager, C., Sinnema, M., Snijders Blok, L., Spillmann, R. C., Stegmann, A. P. A., Thiffault, I., Tran, L., Vaknin-Dembinsky, A., Vedovato-dos-Santos, J. H., Vergano, S. A., Vilain, E., Vitobello, A., Wagner, M., Waheeb, A., Willing, M., Zuccarelli, B., Kini, U., Newbury, D. F., Kleefstra, T., Reymond, A., Fisher, S. E., & Vissers, L. E. L. M. (2021). Mutation-specific pathophysiological mechanisms define different neurodevelopmental disorders associated with SATB1 dysfunction. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 108(2), 346-356. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.01.007.

    Abstract

    Whereas large-scale statistical analyses can robustly identify disease-gene relationships, they do not accurately capture genotype-phenotype correlations or disease mechanisms. We use multiple lines of independent evidence to show that different variant types in a single gene, SATB1, cause clinically overlapping but distinct neurodevelopmental disorders. Clinical evaluation of 42 individuals carrying SATB1 variants identified overt genotype-phenotype relationships, associated with different pathophysiological mechanisms, established by functional assays. Missense variants in the CUT1 and CUT2 DNA-binding domains result in stronger chromatin binding, increased transcriptional repression and a severe phenotype. Contrastingly, variants predicted to result in haploinsufficiency are associated with a milder clinical presentation. A similarly mild phenotype is observed for individuals with premature protein truncating variants that escape nonsense-mediated decay and encode truncated proteins, which are transcriptionally active but mislocalized in the cell. Our results suggest that in-depth mutation-specific genotype-phenotype studies are essential to capture full disease complexity and to explain phenotypic variability.
  • Eekhof, L. S., Kuijpers, M. M., Faber, M., Gao, X., Mak, M., Van den Hoven, E., & Willems, R. M. (2021). Lost in a story, detached from the words. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2020.1857619.

    Abstract

    This article explores the relationship between low- and high-level aspects of reading by studying the interplay between word processing, as measured with eye tracking, and narrative absorption and liking, as measured with questionnaires. Specifically, we focused on how individual differences in sensitivity to lexical word characteristics—measured as the effect of these characteristics on gaze duration—were related to narrative absorption and liking. By reanalyzing a large data set consisting of three previous eye-tracking experiments in which subjects (N = 171) read literary short stories, we replicated the well-established finding that word length, lemma frequency, position in sentence, age of acquisition, and orthographic neighborhood size of words influenced gaze duration. More importantly, we found that individual differences in the degree of sensitivity to three of these word characteristics, i.e., word length, lemma frequency, and age of acquisition, were negatively related to print exposure and to a lesser degree to narrative absorption and liking. Even though the underlying mechanisms of this relationship are still unclear, we believe the current findings underline the need to map out the interplay between, on the one hand, the technical and, on the other hand, the subjective processes of reading by studying reading behavior in more natural settings.

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  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Are there core and peripheral syntactic structures? Experimental evidence from Dutch native speakers with varying literacy levels. Lingua, 251: 102991. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2020.102991.

    Abstract

    Some theorists posit the existence of a ‘core’ grammar that virtually all native speakers acquire, and a ‘peripheral’ grammar that many do not. We investigated the viability of such a categorical distinction in the Dutch language. We first consulted linguists’ intuitions as to the ‘core’ or ‘peripheral’ status of a wide range of grammatical structures. We then tested a selection of core- and peripheral-rated structures on naïve participants with varying levels of literacy experience, using grammaticality judgment as a proxy for receptive knowledge. Overall, participants demonstrated better knowledge of ‘core’ structures than ‘peripheral’ structures, but the considerable variability within these categories was strongly suggestive of a continuum rather than a categorical distinction between them. We also hypothesised that individual differences in the knowledge of core and peripheral structures would reflect participants’ literacy experience. This was supported only by a small trend in our data. The results fit best with the notion that more frequent syntactic structures are mastered by more people than infrequent ones and challenge the received sense of a categorical core-periphery distinction.
  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Long-term written language experience affects grammaticality judgments and usage but not priming of spoken sentences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/17470218211005228.

    Abstract

    ‘Book language’ offers a richer linguistic experience than typical conversational speech in terms of its syntactic properties. Here, we investigated the role of long-term syntactic experience on syntactic knowledge and processing. In a pre-registered study with 161 adult native Dutch speakers with varying levels of literacy, we assessed the contribution of individual differences in written language experience to offline and online syntactic processes. Offline syntactic knowledge was assessed as accuracy in an auditory grammaticality judgment task in which we tested violations of four Dutch grammatical norms. Online syntactic processing was indexed by syntactic priming of the Dutch dative alternation, using a comprehension-to-production priming paradigm with auditory presentation. Controlling for the contribution of non-verbal IQ, verbal working memory, and processing speed, we observed a robust effect of literacy experience on the detection of grammatical norm violations in spoken sentences, suggesting that exposure to the syntactic complexity and diversity of written language has specific benefits for general (modality-independent) syntactic knowledge. We replicated previous results by finding robust comprehension-to-production structural priming, both with and without lexical overlap between prime and target. Although literacy experience affected the usage of syntactic alternates in our large sample, it did not modulate their priming. We conclude that amount of experience with written language increases explicit awareness of grammatical norm violations and changes the usage of (PO vs. DO) dative spoken sentences but has no detectable effect on their implicit syntactic priming in proficient language users. These findings constrain theories about the effect of long-term experience on syntactic processing.
  • Goriot, C., Van Hout, R., Broersma, M., Lobo, V., McQueen, J. M., & Unsworth, S. (2021). Using the peabody picture vocabulary test in L2 children and adolescents: Effects of L1. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 24(4), 546-568. doi:10.1080/13670050.2018.1494131.

    Abstract

    This study investigated to what extent the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) is a reliable tool for measuring vocabulary knowledge of English as a second language (L2), and to what extent L1 characteristics affect test outcomes. The PPVT-4 was administered to Dutch pupils in six different age groups (4-15 years old) who were or were not following an English educational programme at school. Our first finding was that the PPVT-4 was not a reliable measure for pupils who were correct on maximally 24 items, but it was reliable for pupils who performed better. Second, both primary-school and secondary-school pupils performed better on items for which the phonological similarity between the English word and its Dutch translation was higher. Third, young unexperienced L2 learners’ scores were predicted by Dutch lexical frequency, while older more experienced pupils’ scores were predicted by English frequency. These findings indicate that the PPVT may be inappropriate for use with L2 learners with limited L2 proficiency. Furthermore, comparisons of PPVT scores across learners with different L1s are confounded by effects of L1 frequency and L1-L2 similarity. The PPVT-4 is however a suitable measure to compare more proficient L2 learners who have the same L1.
  • Kaufeld, G. (2021). Investigating spoken language comprehension as perceptual inference. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Lopopolo, A. (2021). Properties, structures and operations: Studies on language processing in the brain using computational linguistics and naturalistic stimuli. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Manhardt, F. (2021). A tale of two modalities. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Manhardt, F., Brouwer, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). A tale of two modalities: Sign and speech influence in each other in bimodal bilinguals. Psychological Science, 32(3), 424-436. doi:10.1177/0956797620968789.

    Abstract

    Bimodal bilinguals are hearing individuals fluent in a sign and a spoken language. Can the two languages influence each other in such individuals despite differences in the visual (sign) and vocal (speech) modalities of expression? We investigated cross-linguistic influences on bimodal bilinguals’ expression of spatial relations. Unlike spoken languages, sign uses iconic linguistic forms that resemble physical features of objects in a spatial relation and thus expresses specific semantic information. Hearing bimodal bilinguals (n = 21) fluent in Dutch and Sign Language of the Netherlands and their hearing nonsigning and deaf signing peers (n = 20 each) described left/right relations between two objects. Bimodal bilinguals expressed more specific information about physical features of objects in speech than nonsigners, showing influence from sign language. They also used fewer iconic signs with specific semantic information than deaf signers, demonstrating influence from speech. Bimodal bilinguals’ speech and signs are shaped by two languages from different modalities.

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  • Mickan, A., McQueen, J. M., Valentini, B., Piai, V., & Lemhöfer, K. (2021). Electrophysiological evidence for cross-language interference in foreign-language attrition. Neuropsychologia. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107795.

    Abstract

    Foreign language attrition (FLA) appears to be driven by interference from other, more recently-used languages (Mickan et al., 2020). Here we tracked these interference dynamics electrophysiologically to further our understanding of the underlying processes. Twenty-seven Dutch native speakers learned 70 new Italian words over two days. On a third day, EEG was recorded as they performed naming tasks on half of these words in English and, finally, as their memory for all the Italian words was tested in a picture-naming task. Replicating Mickan et al., recall was slower and tended to be less complete for Italian words that were interfered with (i.e., named in English) than for words that were not. These behavioral interference effects were accompanied by an enhanced frontal N2 and a decreased late positivity (LPC) for interfered compared to not-interfered items. Moreover, interfered items elicited more theta power. We also found an increased N2 during the interference phase for items that participants were later slower to retrieve in Italian. We interpret the N2 and theta effects as markers of interference, in line with the idea that Italian retrieval at final test is hampered by competition from recently practiced English translations. The LPC, in turn, reflects the consequences of interference: the reduced accessibility of interfered Italian labels. Finally, that retrieval ease at final test was related to the degree of interference during previous English retrieval shows that FLA is already set in motion during the interference phase, and hence can be the direct consequence of using other languages.

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    data via Donders Repository
  • Mickan, A. (2021). What was that Spanish word again? Investigations into the cognitive mechanisms underlying foreign language attrition. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Ota, M., San Jose, A., & Smith, K. (2021). The emergence of word-internal repetition through iterated learning: Explaining the mismatch between learning biases and language design. Cognition, 210: 104585. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104585.

    Abstract

    The idea that natural language is shaped by biases in learning plays a key role in our understanding of how human language is structured, but its corollary that there should be a correspondence between typological generalisations and ease of acquisition is not always supported. For example, natural languages tend to avoid close repetitions of consonants within a word, but developmental evidence suggests that, if anything, words containing sound repetitions are more, not less, likely to be acquired than those without. In this study, we use word-internal repetition as a test case to provide a cultural evolutionary explanation of when and how learning biases impact on language design. Two artificial language experiments showed that adult speakers possess a bias for both consonant and vowel repetitions when learning novel words, but the effects of this bias were observable in language transmission only when there was a relatively high learning pressure on the lexicon. Based on these results, we argue that whether the design of a language reflects biases in learning depends on the relative strength of pressures from learnability and communication efficiency exerted on the linguistic system during cultural transmission.

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    supplementary data data
  • Postema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M. and 85 morePostema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M., Chantiluke, K. C., Christakou, A., Coghill, D., Conzelmann, A., Cubillo, A. I., Cupertino, R. B., De Zeeuw, P., Doyle, A. E., Durston, S., Earl, E. A., Epstein, J. N., Ethofer, T., Fair, D. A., Fallgatter, A. J., Faraone, S. V., Frodl, T., Gabel, M. C., Gogberashvili, T., Grevet, E. H., Haavik, J., Harrison, N. A., Hartman, C. A., Heslenfeld, D. J., Hoekstra, P. J., Hohmann, S., Høvik, M. F., Jernigan, T. L., Kardatzki, B., Karkashadze, G., Kelly, C., Kohls, G., Konrad, K., Kuntsi, J., Lazaro, L., Lera-Miguel, S., Lesch, K.-P., Louza, M. R., Lundervold, A. J., Malpas, C. B., Mattos, P., McCarthy, H., Namazova-Baranova, L., Nicolau, R., Nigg, J. T., Novotny, S. E., Oberwelland Weiss, E., O'Gorman Tuura, R. L., Oosterlaan, J., Oranje, B., Paloyelis, Y., Pauli, P., Picon, F. A., Plessen, K. J., Ramos-Quiroga, J. A., Reif, A., Reneman, L., Rosa, P. G. P., Rubia, K., Schrantee, A., Schweren, L. J. S., Seitz, J., Shaw, P., Silk, T. J., Skokauskas, N., Soliva Vila, J. C., Stevens, M. C., Sudre, G., Tamm, L., Tovar-Moll, F., Van Erp, T. G. M., Vance, A., Vilarroya, O., Vives-Gilabert, Y., Von Polier, G. G., Walitza, S., Yoncheva, Y. N., Zanetti, M. V., Ziegler, G. C., Glahn, D. C., Jahanshad, N., Medland, S. E., ENIGMA ADHD Working Group, Thompson, P. M., Fisher, S. E., Franke, B., & Francks, C. (2021). Analysis of structural brain asymmetries in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in 39 datasets. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/jcpp.13396.

    Abstract

    Objective: Some studies have suggested alterations of structural brain asymmetry in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but findings have been contradictory and based on small samples. Here we performed the largest-ever analysis of brain left-right asymmetry in ADHD, using 39 datasets of the ENIGMA consortium. Methods: We analyzed asymmetry of subcortical and cerebral cortical structures in up to 1,933 people with ADHD and 1,829 unaffected controls. Asymmetry Indexes (AIs) were calculated per participant for each bilaterally paired measure, and linear mixed effects modelling was applied separately in children, adolescents, adults, and the total sample, to test exhaustively for potential associations of ADHD with structural brain asymmetries. Results: There was no evidence for altered caudate nucleus asymmetry in ADHD, in contrast to prior literature. In children, there was less rightward asymmetry of the total hemispheric surface area compared to controls (t=2.1, P=0.04). Lower rightward asymmetry of medial orbitofrontal cortex surface area in ADHD (t=2.7, P=0.01) was similar to a recent finding for autism spectrum disorder. There were also some differences in cortical thickness asymmetry across age groups. In adults with ADHD, globus pallidus asymmetry was altered compared to those without ADHD. However, all effects were small (Cohen’s d from -0.18 to 0.18) and would not survive study-wide correction for multiple testing. Conclusion: Prior studies of altered structural brain asymmetry in ADHD were likely under-powered to detect the small effects reported here. Altered structural asymmetry is unlikely to provide a useful biomarker for ADHD, but may provide neurobiological insights into the trait.
  • Redl, T. (2021). Masculine generic pronouns: Investigating the processing of an unintended gender cue. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • San Jose, A., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Modeling the distributional dynamics of attention and semantic interference in word production. Cognition, 211: 104636. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104636.

    Abstract

    In recent years, it has become clear that attention plays an important role in spoken word production. Some of this evidence comes from distributional analyses of reaction time (RT) in regular picture naming and picture-word interference. Yet we lack a mechanistic account of how the properties of RT distributions come to reflect attentional processes and how these processes may in turn modulate the amount of conflict between lexical representations. Here, we present a computational account according to which attentional lapses allow for existing conflict to build up unsupervised on a subset of trials, thus modulating the shape of the resulting RT distribution. Our process model resolves discrepancies between outcomes of previous studies on semantic interference. Moreover, the model's predictions were confirmed in a new experiment where participants' motivation to remain attentive determined the size and distributional locus of semantic interference in picture naming. We conclude that process modeling of RT distributions importantly improves our understanding of the interplay between attention and conflict in word production. Our model thus provides a framework for interpreting distributional analyses of RT data in picture naming tasks.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2021). Word segmentation cues in German child-directed speech: A corpus analysis. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830920979016.

    Abstract

    To acquire language, infants must learn to segment words from running speech. A significant body of experimental research shows that infants use multiple cues to do so; however, little research has comprehensively examined the distribution of such cues in naturalistic speech. We conducted a comprehensive corpus analysis of German child-directed speech (CDS) using data from the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) database, investigating the availability of word stress, transitional probabilities (TPs), and lexical and sublexical frequencies as potential cues for word segmentation. Seven hours of data (~15,000 words) were coded, representing around an average day of speech to infants. The analysis revealed that for 97% of words, primary stress was carried by the initial syllable, implicating stress as a reliable cue to word onset in German CDS. Word identity was also marked by TPs between syllables, which were higher within than between words, and higher for backwards than forwards transitions. Words followed a Zipfian-like frequency distribution, and over two-thirds of words (78%) were monosyllabic. Of the 50 most frequent words, 82% were function words, which accounted for 47% of word tokens in the entire corpus. Finally, 15% of all utterances comprised single words. These results give rich novel insights into the availability of segmentation cues in German CDS, and support the possibility that infants draw on multiple converging cues to segment their input. The data, which we make openly available to the research community, will help guide future experimental investigations on this topic.

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    supporting materials
  • Todorova, L. (2021). Language bias in visually driven decisions: Computational neurophysiological mechanisms. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Trompenaars, T. (2021). Bringing stories to life: Animacy in narrative and processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Does neuronal recycling result in destructive competition? The influence of learning to read on the recognition of faces. Psychological Science, 32, 459-465. doi:10.1177/0956797620971652.

    Abstract

    Written language, a human cultural invention, is far too recent for dedicated neural infrastructure to have evolved in its service. Culturally newly acquired skills (e.g. reading) thus ‘recycle’ evolutionarily older circuits that originally evolved for different, but similar functions (e.g. visual object recognition). The destructive competition hypothesis predicts that this neuronal recycling has detrimental behavioral effects on the cognitive functions a cortical network originally evolved for. In a study with 97 literate, low-literate, and illiterate participants from the same socioeconomic background we find that even after adjusting for cognitive ability and test-taking familiarity, learning to read is associated with an increase, rather than a decrease, in object recognition abilities. These results are incompatible with the claim that neuronal recycling results in destructive competition and consistent with the possibility that learning to read instead fine-tunes general object recognition mechanisms, a hypothesis that needs further neuroscientific investigation.

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  • Verhoef, E., Shapland, C. Y., Fisher, S. E., Dale, P. S., & St Pourcain, B. (2021). The developmental genetic architecture of vocabulary skills during the first three years of life: Capturing emerging associations with later-life reading and cognition. PLoS Genetics, 17(2): e1009144. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009144.

    Abstract

    Individual differences in early-life vocabulary measures are heritable and associated with subsequent reading and cognitive abilities, although the underlying mechanisms are little understood. Here, we (i) investigate the developmental genetic architecture of expressive and receptive vocabulary in early-life and (ii) assess timing of emerging genetic associations with mid-childhood verbal and non-verbal skills. We studied longitudinally assessed early-life vocabulary measures (15–38 months) and later-life verbal and non-verbal skills (7–8 years) in up to 6,524 unrelated children from the population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. We dissected the phenotypic variance of rank-transformed scores into genetic and residual components by fitting multivariate structural equation models to genome-wide genetic-relationship matrices. Our findings show that the genetic architecture of early-life vocabulary involves multiple distinct genetic factors. Two of these genetic factors are developmentally stable and also contribute to genetic variation in mid-childhood skills: One genetic factor emerging with expressive vocabulary at 24 months (path coefficient: 0.32(SE = 0.06)) was also related to later-life reading (path coefficient: 0.25(SE = 0.12)) and verbal intelligence (path coefficient: 0.42(SE = 0.13)), explaining up to 17.9% of the phenotypic variation. A second, independent genetic factor emerging with receptive vocabulary at 38 months (path coefficient: 0.15(SE = 0.07)), was more generally linked to verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities in mid-childhood (reading path coefficient: 0.57(SE = 0.07); verbal intelligence path coefficient: 0.60(0.10); performance intelligence path coefficient: 0.50(SE = 0.08)), accounting for up to 36.1% of the phenotypic variation and the majority of genetic variance in these later-life traits (≥66.4%). Thus, the genetic foundations of mid-childhood reading and cognitive abilities are diverse. They involve at least two independent genetic factors that emerge at different developmental stages during early language development and may implicate differences in cognitive processes that are already detectable during toddlerhood.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Verhoef, E. (2021). Why do we change how we speak? Multivariate genetic analyses of language and related traits across development and disorder. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Berends, S., Veenstra, A., & Van Hout, A. (2010). 'Nee, ze heeft er twee': Acquisition of the Dutch quantitative 'er'. Groninger Arbeiten zur Germanistischen Linguistik, 51, 1-7. Retrieved from http://irs.ub.rug.nl/dbi/4ef4a0b3eafcb.

    Abstract

    We present the first study on the acquisition of the Dutch quantitative pronoun er in sentences such as de vrouw draagt er drie ‘the woman is carrying three.’ There is a large literature on Dutch children’s interpretation of pronouns and a few recent production studies, all specifically looking at 3rd person singular pronouns and the so-called Delay of Principle B effect (Coopmans & Philip, 1996; Koster, 1993; Spenader, Smits and Hendriks, 2009). However, no one has studied children’s use of quantitative er. Dutch is the only Germanic language with such a pronoun.
  • Bergmann, C., Paulus, M., & Fikkert, J. (2010). A closer look at pronoun comprehension: Comparing different methods. In J. Costa, A. Castro, M. Lobo, & F. Pratas (Eds.), Language Acquisition and Development: Proceedings of GALA 2009 (pp. 53-61). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Abstract

    1. Introduction External input is necessary to acquire language. Consequently, the comprehension of various constituents of language, such as lexical items or syntactic and semantic structures should emerge at the same time as or even precede their production. However, in the case of pronouns this general assumption does not seem to hold. On the contrary, while children at the age of four use pronouns and reflexives appropriately during production (de Villiers, et al. 2006), a number of comprehension studies across different languages found chance performance in pronoun trials up to the age of seven, which co-occurs with a high level of accuracy in reflexive trials (for an overview see e.g. Conroy, et al. 2009; Elbourne 2005).
  • Bergmann, C., Gubian, M., & Boves, L. (2010). Modelling the effect of speaker familiarity and noise on infant word recognition. In Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association [Interspeech 2010] (pp. 2910-2913). ISCA.

    Abstract

    In the present paper we show that a general-purpose word learning model can simulate several important findings from recent experiments in language acquisition. Both the addition of background noise and varying the speaker have been found to influence infants’ performance during word recognition experiments. We were able to replicate this behaviour in our artificial word learning agent. We use the results to discuss both advantages and limitations of computational models of language acquisition.
  • Dolscheid, S., Shayan, S., Ozturk, O., Majid, A., & Casasanto, D. (2010). Language shapes mental representations of musical pitch: Implications for metaphorical language processing [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the 16th Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing [AMLaP 2010] (pp. 137). York: University of York.

    Abstract

    Speakers often use spatial metaphors to talk about musical pitch (e.g., a low note, a high soprano). Previous experiments suggest that English speakers also think about pitches as high or low in space, even when theyʼre not using language or musical notation (Casasanto, 2010). Do metaphors in language merely reflect pre-existing associations between space and pitch, or might language also shape these non-linguistic metaphorical mappings? To investigate the role of language in pitch tepresentation, we conducted a pair of non-linguistic spacepitch interference experiments in speakers of two languages that use different spatial metaphors. Dutch speakers usually describe pitches as ʻhighʼ (hoog) and ʻlowʼ (laag). Farsi speakers, however, often describe high-frequency pitches as ʻthinʼ (naazok) and low-frequency pitches as ʻthickʼ (koloft). Do Dutch and Farsi speakers mentally represent pitch differently? To find out, we asked participants to reproduce musical pitches that they heard in the presence of irrelevant spatial information (i.e., lines that varied either in height or in thickness). For the Height Interference experiment, horizontal lines bisected a vertical reference line at one of nine different locations. For the Thickness Interference experiment, a vertical line appeared in the middle of the screen in one of nine thicknesses. In each experiment, the nine different lines were crossed with nine different pitches ranging from C4 to G#4 in semitone increments, to produce 81 distinct trials. If Dutch and Farsi speakers mentally represent pitch the way they talk about it, using different kinds of spatial representations, they should show contrasting patterns of cross-dimensional interference: Dutch speakersʼ pitch estimates should be more strongly affected by irrelevant height information, and Farsi speakersʼ by irrelevant thickness information. As predicted, Dutch speakersʼ pitch estimates were significantly modulated by spatial height but not by thickness. Conversely, Farsi speakersʼ pitch estimates were modulated by spatial thickness but not by height (2x2 ANOVA on normalized slopes of the effect of space on pitch: F(1,71)=17,15 p<.001). To determine whether language plays a causal role in shaping pitch representations, we conducted a training experiment. Native Dutch speakers learned to use Farsi-like metaphors, describing pitch relationships in terms of thickness (e.g., a cello sounds ʻthickerʼ than a flute). After training, Dutch speakers showed a significant effect of Thickness interference in the non-linguistic pitch reproduction task, similar to native Farsi speakers: on average, pitches accompanied by thicker lines were reproduced as lower in pitch (effect of thickness on pitch: r=-.22, p=.002). By conducting psychophysical tasks, we tested the ʻWhorfianʼ question without using words. Yet, results also inform theories of metaphorical language processing. According to psycholinguistic theories (e.g., Bowdle & Gentner, 2005), highly conventional metaphors are processed without any active mapping from the source to the target domain (e.g., from space to pitch). Our data, however, suggest that when people use verbal metaphors they activate a corresponding non-linguistic mapping from either height or thickness to pitch, strengthening this association at the expense of competing associations. As a result, people who use different metaphors in their native languages form correspondingly different representations of musical pitch. Casasanto, D. (2010). Space for Thinking. In Language, Cognition and Space: State of the art and new directions. V. Evans & P. Chilton (Eds.), 453-478, London: Equinox Publishing. Bowdle, B. & Gentner, D. (2005). The career of metaphor. Psychological Review, 112, 193-216.
  • Gubian, M., Bergmann, C., & Boves, L. (2010). Investigating word learning processes in an artificial agent. In Proceedings of the IXth IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning (ICDL). Ann Arbor, MI, 18-21 Aug. 2010 (pp. 178 -184). IEEE.

    Abstract

    Researchers in human language processing and acquisition are making an increasing use of computational models. Computer simulations provide a valuable platform to reproduce hypothesised learning mechanisms that are otherwise very difficult, if not impossible, to verify on human subjects. However, computational models come with problems and risks. It is difficult to (automatically) extract essential information about the developing internal representations from a set of simulation runs, and often researchers limit themselves to analysing learning curves based on empirical recognition accuracy through time. The associated risk is to erroneously deem a specific learning behaviour as generalisable to human learners, while it could also be a mere consequence (artifact) of the implementation of the artificial learner or of the input coding scheme. In this paper a set of simulation runs taken from the ACORNS project is investigated. First a look `inside the box' of the learner is provided by employing novel quantitative methods for analysing changing structures in large data sets. Then, the obtained findings are discussed in the perspective of their ecological validity in the field of child language acquisition.
  • Kung, C., Chwilla, D. J., Gussenhoven, C., Bögels, S., & Schriefers, H. (2010). What did you say just now, bitterness or wife? An ERP study on the interaction between tone, intonation and context in Cantonese Chinese. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2010 (pp. 1-4).

    Abstract

    Previous studies on Cantonese Chinese showed that rising question intonation contours on low-toned words lead to frequent misperceptions of the tones. Here we explored the processing consequences of this interaction between tone and intonation by comparing the processing and identification of monosyllabic critical words at the end of questions and statements, using a tone identification task, and ERPs as an online measure of speech comprehension. Experiment 1 yielded higher error rates for the identification of low tones at the end of questions and a larger N400-P600 pattern, reflecting processing difficulty and reanalysis, compared to other conditions. In Experiment 2, we investigated the effect of immediate lexical context on the tone by intonation interaction. Increasing contextual constraints led to a reduction in errors and the disappearance of the P600 effect. These results indicate that there is an immediate interaction between tone, intonation, and context in online speech comprehension. The difference in performance and activation patterns between the two experiments highlights the significance of context in understanding a tone language, like Cantonese-Chinese.
  • Lam, K. J. Y., & Dijkstra, T. (2010). Word repetition, masked orthographic priming, and language switching: Bilingual studies and BIA+ simulations. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13, 487-503. doi:10.1080/13670050.2010.488283.

    Abstract

    Daily conversations contain many repetitions of identical and similar word forms. For bilinguals, the words can even come from the same or different languages. How do such repetitions affect the human word recognition system? The Bilingual Interactive Activation Plus (BIA+) model provides a theoretical and computational framework for understanding word recognition and word repetition in bilinguals. The model assumes that both phenomena involve a language non-selective process that is sensitive to the task context. By means of computer simulations, the model can specify both qualitatively and quantitatively how bilingual lexical processing in one language is affected by the other language. Our review discusses how BIA+ handles cross-linguistic repetition and masked orthographic priming data from two key empirical studies. We show that BIA+ can account for repetition priming effects within- and between-languages through the manipulation of resting-level activations of targets and neighbors (words sharing all but one letter with the target). The model also predicts cross-linguistic performance on within- and between-trial orthographic priming without appealing to conscious strategies or task schema competition as an explanation. At the end of the paper, we briefly evaluate the model and indicate future developments.
  • Veenstra, A., Berends, S., & Van Hout, A. (2010). Acquisition of object and quantitative pronouns in Dutch: Kinderen wassen 'hem' voordat ze 'er' twee meenemen. Groninger Arbeiten zur Germanistischen Linguistik, 51, 9-25.

    Abstract

    1. Introduction Despite a large literature on Dutch children’s pronoun interpretation, relatively little is known about their production. In this study we elicited pronouns in two syntactic environments: object pronouns and quantitative er (Q-er). The goal was to see how different types of pronouns develop, in particular, whether acquisition depends on their different syntactic properties. Our Dutch data add another type of language to the acquisition literature on object clitics in the Romance languages. Moreover, we present another angle on this discussion by comparing object pronouns and Q-er.
  • Versteegh, M., Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2010). Active word learning under uncertain input conditions. In Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (Interspeech 2010), Makuhari, Japan (pp. 2930-2933). ISCA.

    Abstract

    This paper presents an analysis of phoneme durations of emotional speech in two languages: Dutch and Korean. The analyzed corpus of emotional speech has been specifically developed for the purpose of cross-linguistic comparison, and is more balanced than any similar corpus available so far: a) it contains expressions by both Dutch and Korean actors and is based on judgments by both Dutch and Korean listeners; b) the same elicitation technique and recording procedure were used for recordings of both languages; and c) the phonetics of the carrier phrase were constructed to be permissible in both languages. The carefully controlled phonetic content of the carrier phrase allows for analysis of the role of specific phonetic features, such as phoneme duration, in emotional expression in Dutch and Korean. In this study the mutual effect of language and emotion on phoneme duration is presented.
  • Versteegh, M., Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2010). Dealing with uncertain input in word learning. In Proceedings of the IXth IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning (ICDL). Ann Arbor, MI, 18-21 Aug. 2010 (pp. 46-51). IEEE.

    Abstract

    In this paper we investigate a computational model of word learning, that is embedded in a cognitively and ecologically plausible framework. Multi-modal stimuli from four different speakers form a varied source of experience. The model incorporates active learning, attention to a communicative setting and clarity of the visual scene. The model's ability to learn associations between speech utterances and visual concepts is evaluated during training to investigate the influence of active learning under conditions of uncertain input. The results show the importance of shared attention in word learning and the model's robustness against noise.
  • Versteegh, M., Sangati, F., & Zuidema, W. (2010). Simulations of socio-linguistic change: Implications for unidirectionality. In A. Smith, M. Schoustra, B. Boer, & K. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 8) (pp. 511-512). World Scientific Publishing.
  • Weber, A., & Poellmann, K. (2010). Identifying foreign speakers with an unfamiliar accent or in an unfamiliar language. In New Sounds 2010: Sixth International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech (pp. 536-541). Poznan, Poland: Adam Mickiewicz University.
  • Witteman, M. J., Weber, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2010). Rapid and long-lasting adaptation to foreign-accented speech [Abstract]. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 2486.

    Abstract

    In foreign-accented speech, listeners have to handle noticeable deviations from the standard pronunciation of a target language. Three cross-modal priming experiments investigated how short- and long-term experiences with a foreign accent influence word recognition by native listeners. In experiment 1, German-accented words were presented to Dutch listeners who had either extensive or limited prior experience with German-accented Dutch. Accented words either contained a diphthong substitution that deviated acoustically quite largely from the canonical form (huis [hys], "house", pronounced as [hoys]), or that deviated acoustically to a lesser extent (lijst [lst], "list", pronounced as [lst]). The mispronunciations never created lexical ambiguity in Dutch. While long-term experience facilitated word recognition for both types of substitutions, limited experience facilitated recognition only of words with acoustically smaller deviations. In experiment 2, Dutch listeners with limited experience listened to the German speaker for 4 min before participating in the cross-modal priming experiment. The results showed that speaker-specific learning effects for acoustically large deviations can be obtained already after a brief exposure, as long as the exposure contains evidence of the deviations. Experiment 3 investigates whether these short-term adaptation effects for foreign-accented speech are speaker-independent.
  • Witteman, M. J., & Segers, E. (2010). The modality effect tested in children in a user-paced multimedia environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26, 132-142. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00335.x.

    Abstract

    The modality learning effect, according to Mayer (2001), proposes that learning is enhanced when information is presented in both the visual and auditory domain (e.g., pictures and spoken information), compared to presenting information solely in the visual channel (e.g., pictures and written text). Most of the evidence for this effect comes from adults in a laboratory setting. Therefore, we tested the modality effect with 80 children in the highest grade of elementary school, in a naturalistic setting. In a between-subjects design children either saw representational pictures with speech or representational pictures with text. Retention and transfer knowledge was tested at three moments: immediately after the intervention, one day after, and after one week. The present study did not find any evidence for a modality effect in children when the lesson is learner-paced. Instead, we found a reversed modality effect directly after the intervention for retention. A reversed modality effect was also found for the transfer questions one day later. This effect was robust, even when controlling for individual differences.

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