Markus Ostarek

Biography

After a bachelor's degree in Romance linguistics (LMU Munich) and a MSc in linguistics and neuroscience (University College London), I did a PhD here at the MPI on the role of visual processes in language comprehension, where I now work as a postdoc.

My research focuses on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of language comprehension. The theoretical driving force behind my experimental endeavors is the question of how the human conceptual system supports two seemingly incompatible properties: abstraction and situation-specificity. Whereas concepts are abstract entities not bound to specific exemplars, language comprehension requires the flexible retrieval of situation-specific information to fulfill dynamically changing contextual demands. An intriguing idea is that the contextual instantiation of concepts relies on those neural processes that generate conscious sensory experience (i.e. simulations). My current efforts aim to elucidate how sensory and high-level systems interact to enable conceptual combination in language processing, using fMRI and multivariate pattern analysis.

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