01 October 2020
On Friday 2nd of October 2020, at 12.30, René Terporten will defend his thesis entitled "The Power of Context: How linguistic contextual information shapes brain dynamics during sentence processing".
As with all defences, it is a public event and everybody is welcome to join. Due to the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, and the corresponding limitations regarding number of guests allowed in the Academiezaal, the event will also be accessible via live-stream.

Link to live-stream.

Language context supports not only the integration of new input, but also helps predicting what is likely to come up next. Until now research has largely focused on two approaches: 1) investigating the extreme ends of language context strength (a very strong context versus a very weak context) and 2) investigating the effects on the human brain after a word has been processed. In his thesis, René Terporten used a graded approach to investigate the effect of language context strength onto brain activity and looked at its effects not only after but also before word processing.

In sum, the results of his experiment show that the brain is very sensitive to the context strength of language and flexible adapts by involving a different set of brain areas for each level of context strength. Interestingly, this set of brain areas can be linked to cognitive functions like attention or working memory, suggesting that next to the core language processing machinery in the brain, other higher order cognitive functions are affected by a sentence’s context.

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