Publications

Displaying 1 - 41 of 41
  • Acheson, D. J., Hamidi, M., Binder, J. R., & Postle, B. R. (2011). A common neural substrate for language production and verbal working memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(6), 1358-1367. doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21519.

    Abstract

    Verbal working memory (VWM), the ability to maintain and manipulate representations of speech sounds over short periods, is held by some influential models to be independent from the systems responsible for language production and comprehension [e.g., Baddeley, A. D. Working memory, thought, and action. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007]. We explore the alternative hypothesis that maintenance in VWM is subserved by temporary activation of the language production system [Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. Verbal working memory and language production: Common approaches to the serial ordering of verbal information. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 50–68, 2009b]. Specifically, we hypothesized that for stimuli lacking a semantic representation (e.g., nonwords such as mun), maintenance in VWM can be achieved by cycling information back and forth between the stages of phonological encoding and articulatory planning. First, fMRI was used to identify regions associated with two different stages of language production planning: the posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG) for phonological encoding (critical for VWM of nonwords) and the middle temporal gyrus (MTG) for lexical–semantic retrieval (not critical for VWM of nonwords). Next, in the same subjects, these regions were targeted with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) during language production and VWM task performance. Results showed that rTMS to the pSTG, but not the MTG, increased error rates on paced reading (a language production task) and on delayed serial recall of nonwords (a test of VWM). Performance on a lexical–semantic retrieval task (picture naming), in contrast, was significantly sensitive to rTMS of the MTG. Because rTMS was guided by language production-related activity, these results provide the first causal evidence that maintenance in VWM directly depends on the long-term representations and processes used in speech production.
  • Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. (2011). The rhymes that the reader perused confused the meaning: Phonological effects during on-line sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 65, 193-207. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2011.04.006.

    Abstract

    Research on written language comprehension has generally assumed that the phonological properties of a word have little effect on sentence comprehension beyond the processes of word recognition. Two experiments investigated this assumption. Participants silently read relative clauses in which two pairs of words either did or did not have a high degree of phonological overlap. Participants were slower reading and less accurate comprehending the overlap sentences compared to the non-overlapping controls, even though sentences were matched for plausibility and differed by only two words across overlap conditions. A comparison across experiments showed that the overlap effects were larger in the more difficult object relative than in subject relative sentences. The reading patterns showed that phonological representations affect not only memory for recently encountered sentences but also the developing sentence interpretation during on-line processing. Implications for theories of sentence processing and memory are discussed. Highlights The work investigates the role of phonological information in sentence comprehension, which is poorly understood. ► Subjects read object and subject relative clauses +/- phonological overlap in two pairs of words. ► Unique features of the study were online reading measures and pinpointed overlap locations. ► Phonological overlap slowed reading speed and impaired sentence comprehension, especially for object relatives. ► The results show a key role for phonological information during online comprehension, not just later sentence memory.
  • Acheson, D. J., Postle, B. R., & MacDonald, M. C. (2011). The effect of concurrent semantic categorization on delayed serial recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 44-59. doi:10.1037/a0021205.

    Abstract

    The influence of semantic processing on the serial ordering of items in short-term memory was explored using a novel dual-task paradigm. Participants engaged in 2 picture-judgment tasks while simultaneously performing delayed serial recall. List material varied in the presence of phonological overlap (Experiments 1 and 2) and in semantic content (concrete words in Experiment 1 and 3; nonwords in Experiments 2 and 3). Picture judgments varied in the extent to which they required accessing visual semantic information (i.e., semantic categorization and line orientation judgments). Results showed that, relative to line-orientation judgments, engaging in semantic categorization judgments increased the proportion of item-ordering errors for concrete lists but did not affect error proportions for nonword lists. Furthermore, although more ordering errors were observed for phonologically similar relative to dissimilar lists, no interactions were observed between the phonological overlap and picture-judgment task manipulations. These results demonstrate that lexical-semantic representations can affect the serial ordering of items in short-term memory. Furthermore, the dual-task paradigm provides a new method for examining when and how semantic representations affect memory performance.
  • Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Bramão, I., Inácio, F., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). Object naming in dyslexic children: More than a phonological deficit. The Journal of General Psychology, 138, 215-228. doi:10.1080/00221309.2011.582525.

    Abstract

    In the present study, the authors investigate how some visual factors related to early stages of visual-object naming modulate naming performance in dyslexia. The performance of dyslexic children was compared with 2 control groups—normal readers matched for age and normal readers matched for reading level—while performing a discrete naming task in which color and dimensionality of the visually presented objects were manipulated. The results showed that 2-dimensional naming performance improved for color representations in control readers but not in dyslexics. In contrast to control readers, dyslexics were also insensitive to the stimulus's dimensionality. These findings are unlikely to be explained by a phonological processing problem related to phonological access or retrieval but suggest that dyslexics have a lower capacity for coding and decoding visual surface features of 2-dimensional representations or problems with the integration of visual information stored in long-term memory.
  • Araújo, S., Inácio, F., Francisco, A., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). Component processes subserving rapid automatized naming in dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers. Dyslexia, 17, 242-255. doi:10.1002/dys.433.

    Abstract

    The current study investigated which time components of rapid automatized naming (RAN) predict group differences between dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers (matched for age and reading level), and how these components relate to different reading measures. Subjects performed two RAN tasks (letters and objects), and data were analyzed through a response time analysis. Our results demonstrated that impaired RAN performance in dyslexic readers mainly stem from enhanced inter-item pause times and not from difficulties at the level of post-access motor production (expressed as articulation rates). Moreover, inter-item pause times account for a significant proportion of variance in reading ability in addition to the effect of phonological awareness in the dyslexic group. This suggests that non-phonological factors may lie at the root of the association between RAN inter-item pauses and reading ability. In normal readers, RAN performance was associated with reading ability only at early ages (i.e. in the reading-matched controls), and again it was the RAN inter-item pause times that explain the association.
  • Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). What does rapid naming tell us about dyslexia? Avances en Psicología Latinoamericana, 29, 199-213.

    Abstract

    This article summarizes some of the important findings from research evaluating the relationship between poor rapid naming and impaired reading performance. Substantial evidence shows that dyslexic readers have problems with rapid naming of visual items. Early research assumed that this was a consequence of phonological processing deficits, but recent findings suggest that non-phonological processes may lie at the root of the association between slow naming speed and poor reading. The hypothesis that rapid naming reflects an independent core deficit in dyslexia is supported by the main findings: (1) some dyslexics are characterized by rapid naming difficulties but intact phonological skills; (2) evidence for an independent association between rapid naming and reading competence in the dyslexic readers, when the effect of phonological skills was controlled; (3) rapid naming and phonological processing measures are not reliably correlated. Recent research also reveals greater predictive power of rapid naming, in particular the inter-item pause time, for high-frequency word reading compared to pseudoword reading in developmental dyslexia. Altogether, the results are more consistent with the view that a phonological component alone cannot account for the rapid naming performance in dyslexia. Rather, rapid naming problems may emerge from the inefficiencies in visual-orthographic processing as well as in phonological processing.
  • Baggio, G., & Hagoort, P. (2011). The balance between memory and unification in semantics: A dynamic account of the N400. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26, 1338-1367. doi:10.1080/01690965.2010.542671.

    Abstract

    At least three cognitive brain components are necessary in order for us to be able to produce and comprehend language: a Memory repository for the lexicon, a Unification buffer where lexical information is combined into novel structures, and a Control apparatus presiding over executive function in language. Here we describe the brain networks that support Memory and Unification in semantics. A dynamic account of their interactions is presented, in which a balance between the two components is sought at each word-processing step. We use the theory to provide an explanation of the N400 effect.
  • Bramão, B., Reis, A., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2011). The role of color in object recognition: A review and meta-analysis. Acta Psychologica, 138, 244-253. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.06.010.

    Abstract

    In this study, we systematically review the scientific literature on the effect of color on object recognition. Thirty-five independent experiments, comprising 1535 participants, were included in a meta-analysis. We found a moderate effect of color on object recognition (d = 0.28). Specific effects of moderator variables were analyzed and we found that color diagnosticity is the factor with the greatest moderator effect on the influence of color in object recognition; studies using color diagnostic objects showed a significant color effect (d = 0.43), whereas a marginal color effect was found in studies that used non-color diagnostic objects (d = 0.18). The present study did not permit the drawing of specific conclusions about the moderator effect of the object recognition task; while the meta-analytic review showed that color information improves object recognition mainly in studies using naming tasks (d = 0.36), the literature review revealed a large body of evidence showing positive effects of color information on object recognition in studies using a large variety of visual recognition tasks. We also found that color is important for the ability to recognize artifacts and natural objects, to recognize objects presented as types (line-drawings) or as tokens (photographs), and to recognize objects that are presented without surface details, such as texture or shadow. Taken together, the results of the meta-analysis strongly support the contention that color plays a role in object recognition. This suggests that the role of color should be taken into account in models of visual object recognition.

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  • Bramão, I., Inácio, F., Faísca, L., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2011). The influence of color information on the recognition of color diagnostic and noncolor diagnostic objects. The Journal of General Psychology, 138(1), 49-65. doi:10.1080/00221309.2010.533718.

    Abstract

    In the present study, the authors explore in detail the level of visual object recognition at which perceptual color information improves the recognition of color diagnostic and noncolor diagnostic objects. To address this issue, 3 object recognition tasks, with different cognitive demands, were designed: (a) an object verification task; (b) a category verification task; and (c) a name verification task. They found that perceptual color information improved color diagnostic object recognition mainly in tasks for which access to the semantic knowledge about the object was necessary to perform the task; that is, in category and name verification. In contrast, the authors found that perceptual color information facilitates noncolor diagnostic object recognition when access to the object’s structural description from long-term memory was necessary—that is, object verification. In summary, the present study shows that the role of perceptual color information in object recognition is dependent on color diagnosticity
  • Casasanto, D. (2011). Different bodies, different minds: The body-specificity of language and thought. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 378-383. doi:10.1177/0963721411422058.

    Abstract

    Do people with different kinds of bodies think differently? According to the bodyspecificity hypothesis (Casasanto 2009), they should. In this article, I review evidence that right- and left-handers, who perform actions in systematically different ways, use correspondingly different areas of the brain for imagining actions and representing the meanings of action verbs. Beyond concrete actions, the way people use their hands also influences the way they represent abstract ideas with positive and negative emotional valence like “goodness,” “honesty,” and “intelligence,” and how they communicate about them in spontaneous speech and gesture. Changing how people use their right and left hands can cause them to think differently, suggesting that motoric differences between right- and left-handers are not merely correlated with cognitive differences. Body-specific patterns of motor experience shape the way we think, communicate, and make decisions
  • Casasanto, D., & Chrysikou, E. G. (2011). When left is "Right": Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts. Psychological Science, 22, 419-422. doi:10.1177/0956797611401755.

    Abstract

    Right- and left-handers implicitly associate positive ideas like "goodness"and "honesty"more strongly with their dominant side of space, the side on which they can act more fluently, and negative ideas more strongly with their nondominant side. Here we show that right-handers’ tendency to associate "good" with "right" and "bad" with "left" can be reversed as a result of both long- and short-term changes in motor fluency. Among patients who were right-handed prior to unilateral stroke, those with disabled left hands associated "good" with "right," but those with disabled right hands associated "good" with "left,"as natural left-handers do. A similar pattern was found in healthy right-handers whose right or left hand was temporarily handicapped in the laboratory. Even a few minutes of acting more fluently with the left hand can change right-handers’ implicit associations between space and emotional valence, causing a reversal of their usual judgments. Motor experience plays a causal role in shaping abstract thought.
  • Cleary, R. A., Poliakoff, E., Galpin, A., Dick, J. P., & Holler, J. (2011). An investigation of co-speech gesture production during action description in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 17, 753-756. doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2011.08.001.

    Abstract

    Methods The present study provides a systematic analysis of co-speech gestures which spontaneously accompany the description of actions in a group of PD patients (N = 23, Hoehn and Yahr Stage III or less) and age-matched healthy controls (N = 22). The analysis considers different co-speech gesture types, using established classification schemes from the field of gesture research. The analysis focuses on the rate of these gestures as well as on their qualitative nature. In doing so, the analysis attempts to overcome several methodological shortcomings of research in this area. Results Contrary to expectation, gesture rate was not significantly affected in our patient group, with relatively mild PD. This indicates that co-speech gestures could compensate for speech problems. However, while gesture rate seems unaffected, the qualitative precision of gestures representing actions was significantly reduced. Conclusions This study demonstrates the feasibility of carrying out fine-grained, detailed analyses of gestures in PD and offers insights into an as yet neglected facet of communication in patients with PD. Based on the present findings, an important next step is the closer investigation of the qualitative changes in gesture (including different communicative situations) and an analysis of the heterogeneity in co-speech gesture production in PD.
  • Davids, N., Segers, E., Van den Brink, D., Mitterer, H., van Balkom, H., Hagoort, P., & Verhoeven, L. (2011). The nature of auditory discrimination problems in children with specific language impairment: An MMN study. Neuropsychologia, 49, 19-28. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.001.

    Abstract

    Many children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) show impairments in discriminating auditorily presented stimuli. The present study investigates whether these discrimination problems are speech specific or of a general auditory nature. This was studied by using a linguistic and nonlinguistic contrast that were matched for acoustic complexity in an active behavioral task and a passive ERP paradigm, known to elicit the mismatch negativity (MMN). In addition, attention skills and a variety of language skills were measured. Participants were 25 five-year-old Dutch children with SLI having receptive as well as productive language problems and 25 control children with typical speechand language development. At the behavioral level, the SLI group was impaired in discriminating the linguistic contrast as compared to the control group, while both groups were unable to distinguish the non-linguistic contrast. Moreover, the SLI group tended to have impaired attention skills which correlated with performance on most of the language tests. At the neural level, the SLI group, in contrast to the control group, did not show an MMN in response to either the linguistic or nonlinguistic contrast. The MMN data are consistent with an account that relates the symptoms in children with SLI to non-speech processing difficulties.
  • Dediu, D. (2011). A Bayesian phylogenetic approach to estimating the stability of linguistic features and the genetic biasing of tone. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London/B, 278(1704), 474-479. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1595.

    Abstract

    Language is a hallmark of our species and understanding linguistic diversity is an area of major interest. Genetic factors influencing the cultural transmission of language provide a powerful and elegant explanation for aspects of the present day linguistic diversity and a window into the emergence and evolution of language. In particular, it has recently been proposed that linguistic tone—the usage of voice pitch to convey lexical and grammatical meaning—is biased by two genes involved in brain growth and development, ASPM and Microcephalin. This hypothesis predicts that tone is a stable characteristic of language because of its ‘genetic anchoring’. The present paper tests this prediction using a Bayesian phylogenetic framework applied to a large set of linguistic features and language families, using multiple software implementations, data codings, stability estimations, linguistic classifications and outgroup choices. The results of these different methods and datasets show a large agreement, suggesting that this approach produces reliable estimates of the stability of linguistic data. Moreover, linguistic tone is found to be stable across methods and datasets, providing suggestive support for the hypothesis of genetic influences on its distribution.
  • Dufau, S., Duñabeitia, J. A., Moret-Tatay, C., McGonigal, A., Peeters, D., Alario, F.-X., Balota, D. A., Brysbaert, M., Carreiras, M., Ferrand, L., Ktori, M., Perea, M., Rastle, K., Sasburg, O., Yap, M. J., Ziegler, J. C., & Grainger, J. (2011). Smart phone, smart science: How the use of smartphones can revolutionize research in cognitive science. PLoS One, 6(9), e24974. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024974.

    Abstract

    Investigating human cognitive faculties such as language, attention, and memory most often relies on testing small and homogeneous groups of volunteers coming to research facilities where they are asked to participate in behavioral experiments. We show that this limitation and sampling bias can be overcome by using smartphone technology to collect data in cognitive science experiments from thousands of subjects from all over the world. This mass coordinated use of smartphones creates a novel and powerful scientific ‘‘instrument’’ that yields the data necessary to test universal theories of cognition. This increase in power represents a potential revolution in cognitive science
  • Flecken, M. (2011). Assessing bilingual attainment: macrostructural planning in narratives. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15(2), 164-186. doi:10.1177/1367006910381187.

    Abstract

    The present study addresses questions concerning bilinguals’ attainment in the two languages by investigating the extent to which early bilinguals manage to apply the information structure required in each language when producing a complex text. In re-narrating the content of a film, speakers have to break down the perceived series of dynamic situations and structure relevant information into units that are suited for linguistic expression. The analysis builds on typological studies of Germanic and Romance languages which investigate the role of grammaticized concepts in determining core features in information structure. It takes a global perspective in that it focuses on factors that determine information selection and information structure that hold in macrostructural terms for the text as a whole (factors driving information selection, the temporal frame used to locate events on the time line, and the means used in reference management). A first comparison focuses on Dutch and German monolingual native speakers and shows that despite overall typological similarities, there are subtle though systematic differences between the two languages in the aforementioned areas of information structure. The analyses of the bilinguals focus on their narratives in both languages, and compares the patterns found to those found in the monolingual narratives. Findings show that the method used provides insights into the individual bilingual’s attainment in the two languages and identifies either balanced levels of attainment, patterns showing higher degrees of conformity with one of the languages, as well as bilingual-specific patterns of performance.
  • Flecken, M. (2011). What native speaker judgments tell us about the grammaticalization of a progressive aspectual marker in Dutch. Linguistics, 49(3), 479-524. doi:10.1515/LING.2011.015.

    Abstract

    This paper focuses on native speaker judgments of a construction in Dutch that functions as a progressive aspectual marker (aan het X zijn, referred to as aan het-construction) and represents an event as in progression at the time of speech. The method was chosen in order to investigate how native speakers assess the scope and conditions of use of a construction which is in the process of grammaticalization. It allows for the inclusion of a large group of participants of different age groups and an investigation of potential age-related differences. The study systematically covers a range of temporal variables that were shown to be relevant in elicitation and corpus-based studies on the grammaticalization of progressive aspect constructions. The results provide insights into the selectional preferences and constraints of the aan het-construction in contemporary Dutch, as judged by native speakers, and the extent to which they correlate with production tasks.
  • Folia, V., Forkstam, C., Ingvar, M., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2011). Implicit artificial syntax processing: Genes, preference, and bounded recursion. Biolinguistics, 5(1/2), 105-132.

    Abstract

    The first objective of this study was to compare the brain network engaged by preference classification and the standard grammaticality classification after implicit artificial syntax acquisition by re-analyzing previously reported event-related fMRI data. The results show that preference and grammaticality classification engage virtually identical brain networks, including Broca’s region, consistent with previous behavioral findings. Moreover, the results showed that the effects related to artificial syntax in Broca’s region were essentially the same when masked with variability related to natural syntax processing in the same participants. The second objective was to explore CNTNAP2-related effects in implicit artificial syntax learning by analyzing behavioral and event-related fMRI data from a subsample. The CNTNAP2 gene has been linked to specific language impairment and is controlled by the FOXP2 transcription factor. CNTNAP2 is expressed in language related brain networks in the developing human brain and the FOXP2–CNTNAP2 pathway provides a mechanistic link between clinically distinct syndromes involving disrupted language. Finally, we discuss the implication of taking natural language to be a neurobiological system in terms of bounded recursion and suggest that the left inferior frontal region is a generic on-line sequence processor that unifies information from various sources in an incremental and recursive manner.
  • Habets, B., Kita, S., Shao, Z., Ozyurek, A., & Hagoort, P. (2011). The role of synchrony and ambiguity in speech–gesture integration during comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 1845-1854. doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21462.

    Abstract

    During face-to-face communication, one does not only hear speech but also see a speaker's communicative hand movements. It has been shown that such hand gestures play an important role in communication where the two modalities influence each other's interpretation. A gesture typically temporally overlaps with coexpressive speech, but the gesture is often initiated before (but not after) the coexpressive speech. The present ERP study investigated what degree of asynchrony in the speech and gesture onsets are optimal for semantic integration of the concurrent gesture and speech. Videos of a person gesturing were combined with speech segments that were either semantically congruent or incongruent with the gesture. Although gesture and speech always overlapped in time, gesture and speech were presented with three different degrees of asynchrony. In the SOA 0 condition, the gesture onset and the speech onset were simultaneous. In the SOA 160 and 360 conditions, speech was delayed by 160 and 360 msec, respectively. ERPs time locked to speech onset showed a significant difference between semantically congruent versus incongruent gesture–speech combinations on the N400 for the SOA 0 and 160 conditions. No significant difference was found for the SOA 360 condition. These results imply that speech and gesture are integrated most efficiently when the differences in onsets do not exceed a certain time span because of the fact that iconic gestures need speech to be disambiguated in a way relevant to the speech context.
  • Haun, D. B. M., Rapold, C. J., Janzen, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2011). Plasticity of human spatial memory: Spatial language and cognition covary across cultures. Cognition, 119, 70-80. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.009.

    Abstract

    The present paper explores cross-cultural variation in spatial cognition by comparing spatial reconstruction tasks by Dutch and Namibian elementary school children. These two communities differ in the way they predominantly express spatial relations in language. Four experiments investigate cognitive strategy preferences across different levels of task-complexity and instruction. Data show a correlation between dominant linguistic spatial frames of reference and performance patterns in non-linguistic spatial memory tasks. This correlation is shown to be stable across an increase of complexity in the spatial array. When instructed to use their respective non-habitual cognitive strategy, participants were not easily able to switch between strategies and their attempts to do so impaired their performance. These results indicate a difference not only in preference but also in competence and suggest that spatial language and non-linguistic preferences and competences in spatial cognition are systematically aligned across human populations.

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  • Holler, J., & Wilkin, K. (2011). Co-speech gesture mimicry in the process of collaborative referring during face-to-face dialogue. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 35, 133-153. doi:10.1007/s10919-011-0105-6.

    Abstract

    Mimicry has been observed regarding a range of nonverbal behaviors, but only recently have researchers started to investigate mimicry in co-speech gestures. These gestures are considered to be crucially different from other aspects of nonverbal behavior due to their tight link with speech. This study provides evidence of mimicry in co-speech gestures in face-to-face dialogue, the most common forum of everyday talk. In addition, it offers an analysis of the functions that mimicked co-speech gestures fulfill in the collaborative process of creating a mutually shared understanding of referring expressions. The implications bear on theories of gesture production, research on grounding, and the mechanisms underlying behavioral mimicry.
  • Holler, J., & Wilkin, K. (2011). An experimental investigation of how addressee feedback affects co-speech gestures accompanying speakers’ responses. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 3522-3536. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2011.08.002.

    Abstract

    There is evidence that co-speech gestures communicate information to addressees and that they are often communicatively intended. However, we still know comparatively little about the role of gestures in the actual process of communication. The present study offers a systematic investigation of speakers’ gesture use before and after addressee feedback. The findings show that when speakers responded to addressees’ feedback gesture rate remained constant when this feedback encouraged clarification, elaboration or correction. However, speakers gestured proportionally less often after feedback when providing confirmatory responses. That is, speakers may not be drawing on gesture in response to addressee feedback per se, but particularly with responses that enhance addressees’ understanding. Further, the large majority of speakers’ gestures changed in their form. They tended to be more precise, larger, or more visually prominent after feedback. Some changes in gesture viewpoint were also observed. In addition, we found that speakers used deixis in speech and gaze to increase the salience of gestures occurring in response to feedback. Speakers appear to conceive of gesture as a useful modality in redesigning utterances to make them more accessible to addressees. The findings further our understanding of recipient design and co-speech gestures in face-to-face dialogue. Highlights ► Gesture rate remains constant in response to addressee feedback when the response aims to correct or clarify understanding. ► But gesture rate decreases when speakers provide confirmatory responses to feedback signalling correct understanding. ► Gestures are more communicative in response to addressee feedback, particularly in terms of precision, size and visual prominence. ► Speakers make gestures in response to addressee feedback more salient by using deictic markers in speech and gaze.
  • Holler, J. (2011). Verhaltenskoordination, Mimikry und sprachbegleitende Gestik in der Interaktion. Psychotherapie - Wissenschaft: Special issue: "Sieh mal, wer da spricht" - der Koerper in der Psychotherapie Teil IV, 1(1), 56-64. Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapie-wissenschaft.info/index.php/psy-wis/article/view/13/65.
  • Johnson, J. S., Sutterer, D. W., Acheson, D. J., Lewis-Peacock, J. A., & Postle, B. R. (2011). Increased alpha-band power during the retention of shapes and shape-location associations in visual short-term memory. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(128), 1-9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00128.

    Abstract

    Studies exploring the role of neural oscillations in cognition have revealed sustained increases in alpha-band (∼8–14 Hz) power during the delay period of delayed-recognition short-term memory tasks. These increases have been proposed to reflect the inhibition, for example, of cortical areas representing task-irrelevant information, or of potentially interfering representations from previous trials. Another possibility, however, is that elevated delay-period alpha-band power (DPABP) reflects the selection and maintenance of information, rather than, or in addition to, the inhibition of task-irrelevant information. In the present study, we explored these possibilities using a delayed-recognition paradigm in which the presence and task relevance of shape information was systematically manipulated across trial blocks and electroencephalographic was used to measure alpha-band power. In the first trial block, participants remembered locations marked by identical black circles. The second block featured the same instructions, but locations were marked by unique shapes. The third block featured the same stimulus presentation as the second, but with pretrial instructions indicating, on a trial-by-trial basis, whether memory for shape or location was required, the other dimension being irrelevant. In the final block, participants remembered the unique pairing of shape and location for each stimulus. Results revealed minimal DPABP in each of the location-memory conditions, whether locations were marked with identical circles or with unique task-irrelevant shapes. In contrast, alpha-band power increases were observed in both the shape-memory condition, in which location was task irrelevant, and in the critical final condition, in which both shape and location were task relevant. These results provide support for the proposal that alpha-band oscillations reflect the retention of shape information and/or shape–location associations in short-term memory.
  • Kelly, S., Byrne, K., & Holler, J. (2011). Raising the stakes of communication: Evidence for increased gesture production as predicted by the GSA framework. Information, 2(4), 579-593. doi:10.3390/info2040579.

    Abstract

    Theorists of language have argued that co-­speech hand gestures are an intentional part of social communication. The present study provides evidence for these claims by showing that speakers adjust their gesture use according to their perceived relevance to the audience. Participants were asked to read about items that were and were not useful in a wilderness survival scenario, under the pretense that they would then explain (on camera) what they learned to one of two different audiences. For one audience (a group of college students in a dormitory orientation activity), the stakes of successful communication were low;; for the other audience (a group of students preparing for a rugged camping trip in the mountains), the stakes were high. In their explanations to the camera, participants in the high stakes condition produced three times as many representational gestures, and spent three times as much time gesturing, than participants in the low stakes condition. This study extends previous research by showing that the anticipated consequences of one’s communication—namely, the degree to which information may be useful to an intended recipient—influences speakers’ use of gesture.
  • Koenigs, M., Acheson, D. J., Barbey, A. K., Soloman, J., Postle, B. R., & Grafman, J. (2011). Areas of left perisylvian cortex mediate auditory-verbal short-term memory. Neuropsychologia, 49(13), 3612-3619. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.09.013.

    Abstract

    A contentious issue in memory research is whether verbal short-term memory (STM) depends on a neural system specifically dedicated to the temporary maintenance of information, or instead relies on the same brain areas subserving the comprehension and production of language. In this study, we examined a large sample of adults with acquired brain lesions to identify the critical neural substrates underlying verbal STM and the relationship between verbal STM and language processing abilities. We found that patients with damage to selective regions of left perisylvian cortex – specifically the inferior frontal and posterior temporal sectors – were impaired on auditory–verbal STM performance (digit span), as well as on tests requiring the production and/or comprehension of language. These results support the conclusion that verbal STM and language processing are mediated by the same areas of left perisylvian cortex.

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  • Kokal, I., Engel, A., Kirschner, S., & Keysers, C. (2011). Synchronized drumming enhances activity in the caudate and facilitates prosocial commitment - If the rhythm comes easily. PLoS One, 6(11), e27272. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027272.

    Abstract

    Why does chanting, drumming or dancing together make people feel united? Here we investigate the neural mechanisms underlying interpersonal synchrony and its subsequent effects on prosocial behavior among synchronized individuals. We hypothesized that areas of the brain associated with the processing of reward would be active when individuals experience synchrony during drumming, and that these reward signals would increase prosocial behavior toward this synchronous drum partner. 18 female non-musicians were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they drummed a rhythm, in alternating blocks, with two different experimenters: one drumming in-synchrony and the other out-of-synchrony relative to the participant. In the last scanning part, which served as the experimental manipulation for the following prosocial behavioral test, one of the experimenters drummed with one half of the participants in-synchrony and with the other out-of-synchrony. After scanning, this experimenter "accidentally" dropped eight pencils, and the number of pencils collected by the participants was used as a measure of prosocial commitment. Results revealed that participants who mastered the novel rhythm easily before scanning showed increased activity in the caudate during synchronous drumming. The same area also responded to monetary reward in a localizer task with the same participants. The activity in the caudate during experiencing synchronous drumming also predicted the number of pencils the participants later collected to help the synchronous experimenter of the manipulation run. In addition, participants collected more pencils to help the experimenter when she had drummed in-synchrony than out-of-synchrony during the manipulation run. By showing an overlap in activated areas during synchronized drumming and monetary reward, our findings suggest that interpersonal synchrony is related to the brain's reward system.
  • Menenti, L., Gierhan, S., Segaert, K., & Hagoort, P. (2011). Shared language: Overlap and segregation of the neuronal infrastructure for speaking and listening revealed by functional MRI. Psychological Science, 22, 1173-1182. doi:10.1177/0956797611418347.

    Abstract

    Whether the brain’s speech-production system is also involved in speech comprehension is a topic of much debate. Research has focused on whether motor areas are involved in listening, but overlap between speaking and listening might occur not only at primary sensory and motor levels, but also at linguistic levels (where semantic, lexical, and syntactic processes occur). Using functional MRI adaptation during speech comprehension and production, we found that the brain areas involved in semantic, lexical, and syntactic processing are mostly the same for speaking and for listening. Effects of primary processing load (indicative of sensory and motor processes) overlapped in auditory cortex and left inferior frontal cortex, but not in motor cortex, where processing load affected activity only in speaking. These results indicate that the linguistic parts of the language system are used for both speaking and listening, but that the motor system does not seem to provide a crucial contribution to listening.
  • Pijnacker, J., Geurts, B., Van Lambalgen, M., Buitelaar, J., & Hagoort, P. (2011). Reasoning with exceptions: An event-related brain potentials study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 471-480. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21360.

    Abstract

    Defeasible inferences are inferences that can be revised in the light of new information. Although defeasible inferences are pervasive in everyday communication, little is known about how and when they are processed by the brain. This study examined the electrophysiological signature of defeasible reasoning using a modified version of the suppression task. Participants were presented with conditional inferences (of the type “if p, then q; p, therefore q”) that were preceded by a congruent or a disabling context. The disabling context contained a possible exception or precondition that prevented people from drawing the conclusion. Acceptability of the conclusion was indeed lower in the disabling condition compared to the congruent condition. Further, we found a large sustained negativity at the conclusion of the disabling condition relative to the congruent condition, which started around 250 msec and was persistent throughout the entire epoch. Possible accounts for the observed effect are discussed.
  • Scheeringa, R., Fries, P., Petersson, K. M., Oostenveld, R., Grothe, I., Norris, D. G., Hagoort, P., & Bastiaansen, M. C. M. (2011). Neuronal dynamics underlying high- and low- frequency EEG oscillations contribute independently to the human BOLD signal. Neuron, 69, 572-583. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.044.

    Abstract

    Work on animals indicates that BOLD is preferentially sensitive to local field potentials, and that it correlates most strongly with gamma band neuronal synchronization. Here we investigate how the BOLD signal in humans performing a cognitive task is related to neuronal synchronization across different frequency bands. We simultaneously recorded EEG and BOLD while subjects engaged in a visual attention task known to induce sustained changes in neuronal synchronization across a wide range of frequencies. Trial-by-trial BOLD luctuations correlated positively with trial-by-trial fluctuations in high-EEG gamma power (60–80 Hz) and negatively with alpha and beta power. Gamma power on the one hand, and alpha and beta power on the other hand, independently contributed to explaining BOLD variance. These results indicate that the BOLD-gamma coupling observed in animals can be extrapolated to humans performing a task and that neuronal dynamics underlying high- and low-frequency synchronization contribute independently to the BOLD signal.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.pdf
  • Segaert, K., Menenti, L., Weber, K., & Hagoort, P. (2011). A paradox of syntactic priming: Why response tendencies show priming for passives, and response latencies show priming for actives. PLoS One, 6(10), e24209. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024209.

    Abstract

    Speakers tend to repeat syntactic structures across sentences, a phenomenon called syntactic priming. Although it has been suggested that repeating syntactic structures should result in speeded responses, previous research has focused on effects in response tendencies. We investigated syntactic priming effects simultaneously in response tendencies and response latencies for active and passive transitive sentences in a picture description task. In Experiment 1, there were priming effects in response tendencies for passives and in response latencies for actives. However, when participants' pre-existing preference for actives was altered in Experiment 2, syntactic priming occurred for both actives and passives in response tendencies as well as in response latencies. This is the first investigation of the effects of structure frequency on both response tendencies and latencies in syntactic priming. We discuss the implications of these data for current theories of syntactic processing.

    Supplementary material

    Segaert_2011_Supporting_Info.doc
  • Small, S. L., Hickok, G., Nusbaum, H. C., Blumstein, S., Coslett, H. B., Dell, G., Hagoort, P., Kutas, M., Marantz, A., Pylkkanen, L., Thompson-Schill, S., Watkins, K., & Wise, R. J. (2011). The neurobiology of language: Two years later [Editorial]. Brain and Language, 116(3), 103-104. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2011.02.004.
  • Tesink, C. M. J. Y., Buitelaar, J. K., Petersson, K. M., Van der Gaag, R. J., Teunisse, J.-P., & Hagoort, P. (2011). Neural correlates of language comprehension in autism spectrum disorders: When language conflicts with world knowledge. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1095-1104. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.01.018.

    Abstract

    In individuals with ASD, difficulties with language comprehension are most evident when higher-level semantic-pragmatic language processing is required, for instance when context has to be used to interpret the meaning of an utterance. Until now, it is unclear at what level of processing and for what type of context these difficulties in language comprehension occur. Therefore, in the current fMRI study, we investigated the neural correlates of the integration of contextual information during auditory language comprehension in 24 adults with ASD and 24 matched control participants. Different levels of context processing were manipulated by using spoken sentences that were correct or contained either a semantic or world knowledge anomaly. Our findings demonstrated significant differences between the groups in inferior frontal cortex that were only present for sentences with a world knowledge anomaly. Relative to the ASD group, the control group showed significantly increased activation in left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) for sentences with a world knowledge anomaly compared to correct sentences. This effect possibly indicates reduced integrative capacities of the ASD group. Furthermore, world knowledge anomalies elicited significantly stronger activation in right inferior frontal gyrus (RIFG) in the control group compared to the ASD group. This additional RIFG activation probably reflects revision of the situation model after new, conflicting information. The lack of recruitment of RIFG is possibly related to difficulties with exception handling in the ASD group.

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  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Den Ouden, H. E. M., & Hagoort, P. (2011). Effective connectivity determines the nature of subjective experience in grapheme-color synesthesia. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 9879-9884. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0569-11.2011.

    Abstract

    Synesthesia provides an elegant model to investigate neural mechanisms underlying individual differences in subjective experience in humans. In grapheme–color synesthesia, written letters induce color sensations, accompanied by activation of color area V4. Competing hypotheses suggest that enhanced V4 activity during synesthesia is either induced by direct bottom-up cross-activation from grapheme processing areas within the fusiform gyrus, or indirectly via higher-order parietal areas. Synesthetes differ in the way synesthetic color is perceived: “projector” synesthetes experience color externally colocalized with a presented grapheme, whereas “associators” report an internally evoked association. Using dynamic causal modeling for fMRI, we show that V4 cross-activation during synesthesia was induced via a bottom-up pathway (within fusiform gyrus) in projector synesthetes, but via a top-down pathway (via parietal lobe) in associators. These findings show how altered coupling within the same network of active regions leads to differences in subjective experience. Our findings reconcile the two most influential cross-activation accounts of synesthesia.
  • De Vries, M., Christiansen, M. H., & Petersson, K. M. (2011). Learning recursion: Multiple nested and crossed dependencies. Biolinguistics, 5(1/2), 010-035.

    Abstract

    Language acquisition in both natural and artificial language learning settings crucially depends on extracting information from sequence input. A shared sequence learning mechanism is thus assumed to underlie both natural and artificial language learning. A growing body of empirical evidence is consistent with this hypothesis. By means of artificial language learning experiments, we may therefore gain more insight in this shared mechanism. In this paper, we review empirical evidence from artificial language learning and computational modelling studies, as well as natural language data, and suggest that there are two key factors that help determine processing complexity in sequence learning, and thus in natural language processing. We propose that the specific ordering of non-adjacent dependencies (i.e., nested or crossed), as well as the number of non-adjacent dependencies to be resolved simultaneously (i.e., two or three) are important factors in gaining more insight into the boundaries of human sequence learning; and thus, also in natural language processing. The implications for theories of linguistic competence are discussed.
  • Wang, L., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Yang, Y., & Hagoort, P. (2011). The influence of information structure on the depth of semantic processing: How focus and pitch accent determine the size of the N400 effect. Neuropsychologia, 49, 813-820. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.12.035.

    Abstract

    To highlight relevant information in dialogues, both wh-question context and pitch accent in answers can be used, such that focused information gains more attention and is processed more elaborately. To evaluate the relative influence of context and pitch accent on the depth of semantic processing, we measured Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) to auditorily presented wh-question-answer pairs. A semantically incongruent word in the answer occurred either in focus or non-focus position as determined by the context, and this word was either accented or unaccented. Semantic incongruency elicited different N400 effects in different conditions. The largest N400 effect was found when the question-marked focus was accented, while the other three conditions elicited smaller N400 effects. The results suggest that context and accentuation interact. Thus accented focused words were processed more deeply compared to conditions where focus and accentuation mismatched, or when the new information had no marking. In addition, there seems to be sex differences in the depth of semantic processing. For males, a significant N400 effect was observed only when the question-marked focus was accented, reduced N400 effects were found in the other dialogues. In contrast, females produced similar N400 effects in all the conditions. These results suggest that regardless of external cues, females tend to engage in more elaborate semantic processing compared to males.
  • Willems, R. M., Labruna, L., D'Esposito, M., Ivry, R., & Casasanto, D. (2011). A functional role for the motor system in language understanding: Evidence from Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Psychological Science, 22, 849 -854. doi:10.1177/0956797611412387.

    Abstract

    Does language comprehension depend, in part, on neural systems for action? In previous studies, motor areas of the brain were activated when people read or listened to action verbs, but it remains unclear whether such activation is functionally relevant for comprehension. In the experiments reported here, we used off-line theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate whether a causal relationship exists between activity in premotor cortex and action-language understanding. Right-handed participants completed a lexical decision task, in which they read verbs describing manual actions typically performed with the dominant hand (e.g., “to throw,” “to write”) and verbs describing nonmanual actions (e.g., “to earn,” “to wander”). Responses to manual-action verbs (but not to nonmanual-action verbs) were faster after stimulation of the hand area in left premotor cortex than after stimulation of the hand area in right premotor cortex. These results suggest that premotor cortex has a functional role in action-language understanding.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary materials Willems.pdf
  • Willems, R. M., Clevis, K., & Hagoort, P. (2011). Add a picture for suspense: Neural correlates of the interaction between language and visual information in the perception of fear. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6, 404-416. doi:10.1093/scan/nsq050.

    Abstract

    We investigated how visual and linguistic information interact in the perception of emotion. We borrowed a phenomenon from film theory which states that presentation of an as such neutral visual scene intensifies the percept of fear or suspense induced by a different channel of information, such as language. Our main aim was to investigate how neutral visual scenes can enhance responses to fearful language content in parts of the brain involved in the perception of emotion. Healthy participants’ brain activity was measured (using functional magnetic resonance imaging) while they read fearful and less fearful sentences presented with or without a neutral visual scene. The main idea is that the visual scenes intensify the fearful content of the language by subtly implying and concretizing what is described in the sentence. Activation levels in the right anterior temporal pole were selectively increased when a neutral visual scene was paired with a fearful sentence, compared to reading the sentence alone, as well as to reading of non-fearful sentences presented with the same neutral scene. We conclude that the right anterior temporal pole serves a binding function of emotional information across domains such as visual and linguistic information.
  • Willems, R. M., Benn, Y., Hagoort, P., Tonia, I., & Varley, R. (2011). Communicating without a functioning language system: Implications for the role of language in mentalizing. Neuropsychologia, 49, 3130-3135. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.07.023.

    Abstract

    A debated issue in the relationship between language and thought is how our linguistic abilities are involved in understanding the intentions of others (‘mentalizing’). The results of both theoretical and empirical work have been used to argue that linguistic, and more specifically, grammatical, abilities are crucial in representing the mental states of others. Here we contribute to this debate by investigating how damage to the language system influences the generation and understanding of intentional communicative behaviors. Four patients with pervasive language difficulties (severe global or agrammatic aphasia) engaged in an experimentally controlled non-verbal communication paradigm, which required signaling and understanding a communicative message. Despite their profound language problems they were able to engage in recipient design as well as intention recognition, showing similar indicators of mentalizing as have been observed in the neurologically healthy population. Our results show that aspects of the ability to communicate remain present even when core capacities of the language system are dysfunctional
  • Willems, R. M. (2011). Re-appreciating the why of cognition: 35 years after Marr and Poggio. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 244. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00244.

    Abstract

    Marr and Poggio’s levels of description are one of the most well-known theoretical constructs of twentieth century cognitive science. It entails that behavior can and should be considered at three different levels: computation, algorithm, and implementation. In this contribution focus is on the computational level of description, the level that describes the “why” of cognition. I argue that the computational level should be taken as a starting point in devising experiments in cognitive (neuro)science. Instead, the starting point in empirical practice often is a focus on the stimulus or on some capacity of the cognitive system. The “why” of cognition tends to be ignored when designing research, and is not considered in subsequent inference from experimental results. The overall aim of this manuscript is to show how re-appreciation of the computational level of description as a starting point for experiments can lead to more informative experimentation.
  • Willems, R. M., & Casasanto, D. (2011). Flexibility in embodied language understanding. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 116. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00116.

    Abstract

    Do people use sensori-motor cortices to understand language? Here we review neurocognitive studies of language comprehension in healthy adults and evaluate their possible contributions to theories of language in the brain. We start by sketching the minimal predictions that an embodied theory of language understanding makes for empirical research, and then survey studies that have been offered as evidence for embodied semantic representations. We explore four debated issues: first, does activation of sensori-motor cortices during action language understanding imply that action semantics relies on mirror neurons? Second, what is the evidence that activity in sensori-motor cortices plays a functional role in understanding language? Third, to what extent do responses in perceptual and motor areas depend on the linguistic and extra-linguistic context? And finally, can embodied theories accommodate language about abstract concepts? Based on the available evidence, we conclude that sensori-motor cortices are activated during a variety of language comprehension tasks, for both concrete and abstract language. Yet, this activity depends on the context in which perception and action words are encountered. Although modality-specific cortical activity is not a sine qua non of language processing even for language about perception and action, sensori-motor regions of the brain appear to make functional contributions to the construction of meaning, and should therefore be incorporated into models of the neurocognitive architecture of language.

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