Tineke Snijders

Publications

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
  • Hahn, L. E., Ten Buuren, M., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Learning words in a second language while cycling and listening to children’s songs: The Noplica Energy Center. International Journal of Music in Early Childhood, 15(1), 95-108. doi:10.1386/ijmec_00014_1.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs are a great source for linguistic learning. Here we explore whether children can acquire novel words in a second language by playing a game featuring children’s songs in a playhouse. The playhouse is designed by the Noplica foundation (www.noplica.nl) to advance language learning through unsupervised play. We present data from three experiments that serve to scientifically proof the functionality of one game of the playhouse: the Energy Center. For this game, children move three hand-bikes mounted on a panel within the playhouse. Once the children cycle, a song starts playing that is accompanied by musical instruments. In our experiments, children executed a picture-selection task to evaluate whether they acquired new vocabulary from the songs presented during the game. Two of our experiments were run in the field, one at a Dutch and one at an Indian pre-school. The third experiment features data from a more controlled laboratory setting. Our results partly confirm that the Energy Center is a successful means to support vocabulary acquisition in a second language. More research with larger sample sizes and longer access to the Energy Center is needed to evaluate the overall functionality of the game. Based on informal observations at our test sites, however, we are certain that children do pick up linguistic content from the songs during play, as many of the children repeat words and phrases from the songs they heard. We will pick up upon these promising observations during future studies.
  • Hahn, L. E., Benders, T., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Six-month-old infants recognize phrases in song and speech. Infancy, 25(5), 699-718. doi:10.1111/infa.12357.

    Abstract

    Infants exploit acoustic boundaries to perceptually organize phrases in speech. This prosodic parsing ability is well‐attested and is a cornerstone to the development of speech perception and grammar. However, infants also receive linguistic input in child songs. This study provides evidence that infants parse songs into meaningful phrasal units and replicates previous research for speech. Six‐month‐old Dutch infants (n = 80) were tested in the song or speech modality in the head‐turn preference procedure. First, infants were familiarized to two versions of the same word sequence: One version represented a well‐formed unit, and the other contained a phrase boundary halfway through. At test, infants were presented two passages, each containing one version of the familiarized sequence. The results for speech replicated the previously observed preference for the passage containing the well‐formed sequence, but only in a more fine‐grained analysis. The preference for well‐formed phrases was also observed in the song modality, indicating that infants recognize phrase structure in song. There were acoustic differences between stimuli of the current and previous studies, suggesting that infants are flexible in their processing of boundary cues while also providing a possible explanation for differences in effect sizes.

    Supplementary material

    infa12357-sup-0001-supinfo.zip
  • Snijders, T. M., Benders, T., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Infants segment words from songs - an EEG study. Brain Sciences, 10( 1): 39. doi:10.3390/brainsci10010039.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs are omnipresent and highly attractive stimuli in infants’ input. Previous work suggests that infants process linguistic–phonetic information from simplified sung melodies. The present study investigated whether infants learn words from ecologically valid children’s songs. Testing 40 Dutch-learning 10-month-olds in a familiarization-then-test electroencephalography (EEG) paradigm, this study asked whether infants can segment repeated target words embedded in songs during familiarization and subsequently recognize those words in continuous speech in the test phase. To replicate previous speech work and compare segmentation across modalities, infants participated in both song and speech sessions. Results showed a positive event-related potential (ERP) familiarity effect to the final compared to the first target occurrences during both song and speech familiarization. No evidence was found for word recognition in the test phase following either song or speech. Comparisons across the stimuli of the present and a comparable previous study suggested that acoustic prominence and speech rate may have contributed to the polarity of the ERP familiarity effect and its absence in the test phase. Overall, the present study provides evidence that 10-month-old infants can segment words embedded in songs, and it raises questions about the acoustic and other factors that enable or hinder infant word segmentation from songs and speech.
  • Hahn, L. E., Ten Buuren, M., De Nijs, M., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2019). Acquiring novel words in a second language through mutual play with child songs - The Noplica Energy Center. In L. Nijs, H. Van Regenmortel, & C. Arculus (Eds.), MERYC19 Counterpoints of the senses: Bodily experiences in musical learning (pp. 78-87). Ghent, Belgium: EuNet MERYC 2019.

    Abstract

    Child songs are a great source for linguistic learning. Here we explore whether children can acquire novel words in a second language by playing a game featuring child songs in a playhouse. We present data from three studies that serve as scientific proof for the functionality of one game of the playhouse: the Energy Center. For this game, three hand-bikes were mounted on a panel. When children start moving the hand-bikes, child songs start playing simultaneously. Once the children produce enough energy with the hand-bikes, the songs are additionally accompanied with the sounds of musical instruments. In our studies, children executed a picture-selection task to evaluate whether they acquired new vocabulary from the songs presented during the game. Two of our studies were run in the field, one at a Dutch and one at an Indian pre-school. The third study features data from a more controlled laboratory setting. Our results partly confirm that the Energy Center is a successful means to support vocabulary acquisition in a second language. More research with larger sample sizes and longer access to the Energy Center is needed to evaluate the overall functionality of the game. Based on informal observations at our test sites, however, we are certain that children do pick up linguistic content from the songs during play, as many of the children repeat words and phrases from songs they heard. We will pick up upon these promising observations during future studies
  • Misersky, J., Majid, A., & Snijders, T. M. (2019). Grammatical gender in German influences how role-nouns are interpreted: Evidence from ERPs. Discourse Processes, 56(8), 643-654. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2018.1541382.

    Abstract

    Grammatically masculine role-nouns (e.g., Studenten-masc.‘students’) can refer to men and women, but may favor an interpretation where only men are considered the referent. If true, this has implications for a society aiming to achieve equal representation in the workplace since, for example, job adverts use such role descriptions. To investigate the interpretation of role-nouns, the present ERP study assessed grammatical gender processing in German. Twenty participants read sentences where a role-noun (masculine or feminine) introduced a group of people, followed by a congruent (masculine–men, feminine–women) or incongruent (masculine–women, feminine–men) continuation. Both for feminine-men and masculine-women continuations a P600 (500 to 800 ms) was observed; another positivity was already present from 300 to 500 ms for feminine-men continuations, but critically not for masculine-women continuations. The results imply a male-biased rather than gender-neutral interpretation of the masculine—despite widespread usage of the masculine as a gender-neutral form—suggesting masculine forms are inadequate for representing genders equally.
  • Van den Boomen, C., Fahrenfort, J. J., Snijders, T. M., & Kemner, C. (2019). Slow segmentation of faces in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Neuropsychologia, 127, 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.02.005.

    Abstract

    Atypical visual segmentation, affecting object perception, might contribute to face processing problems in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The current study investigated impairments in visual segmentation of faces in ASD. Thirty participants (ASD: 16; Control: 14) viewed texture-defined faces, houses, and homogeneous images, while electroencephalographic and behavioral responses were recorded. The ASD group showed slower face-segmentation related brain activity and longer segmentation reaction times than the control group, but no difference in house-segmentation related activity or behavioral performance. Furthermore, individual differences in face-segmentation but not house-segmentation correlated with score on the Autism Quotient. Segmentation is thus selectively impaired for faces in ASD, and relates to the degree of ASD traits. Face segmentation relates to recurrent connectivity from the fusiform face area (FFA) to the visual cortex. These findings thus suggest that atypical connectivity from the FFA might contribute to delayed face processing in ASD.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Hahn, L. E., Benders, T., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2018). Infants' sensitivity to rhyme in songs. Infant Behavior and Development, 52, 130-139. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2018.07.002.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs often contain rhyming words at phrase endings. In this study, we investigated whether infants can already recognize this phonological pattern in songs. Earlier studies using lists of spoken words were equivocal on infants’ spontaneous processing of rhymes (Hayes, Slater, & Brown, 2000; Jusczyk, Goodman, & Baumann, 1999). Songs, however, constitute an ecologically valid rhyming stimulus, which could allow for spontaneous processing of this phonological pattern in infants. Novel children’s songs with rhyming and non-rhyming lyrics using pseudo-words were presented to 35 9-month-old Dutch infants using the Headturn Preference Procedure. Infants on average listened longer to the non-rhyming songs, with around half of the infants however exhibiting a preference for the rhyming songs. These results highlight that infants have the processing abilities to benefit from their natural rhyming input for the development of their phonological abilities.
  • Peeters, D., Snijders, T. M., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2017). Linking language to the visual world: Neural correlates of comprehending verbal reference to objects through pointing and visual cues. Neuropsychologia, 95, 21-29. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.12.004.

    Abstract

    In everyday communication speakers often refer in speech and/or gesture to objects in their immediate environment, thereby shifting their addressee's attention to an intended referent. The neurobiological infrastructure involved in the comprehension of such basic multimodal communicative acts remains unclear. In an event-related fMRI study, we presented participants with pictures of a speaker and two objects while they concurrently listened to her speech. In each picture, one of the objects was singled out, either through the speaker's index-finger pointing gesture or through a visual cue that made the object perceptually more salient in the absence of gesture. A mismatch (compared to a match) between speech and the object singled out by the speaker's pointing gesture led to enhanced activation in left IFG and bilateral pMTG, showing the importance of these areas in conceptual matching between speech and referent. Moreover, a match (compared to a mismatch) between speech and the object made salient through a visual cue led to enhanced activation in the mentalizing system, arguably reflecting an attempt to converge on a jointly attended referent in the absence of pointing. These findings shed new light on the neurobiological underpinnings of the core communicative process of comprehending a speaker's multimodal referential act and stress the power of pointing as an important natural device to link speech to objects.
  • Udden, J., Snijders, T. M., Fisher, S. E., & Hagoort, P. (2017). A common variant of the CNTNAP2 gene is associated with structural variation in the left superior occipital gyrus. Brain and Language, 172, 16-21. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2016.02.003.

    Abstract

    The CNTNAP2 gene encodes a cell-adhesion molecule that influences the properties of neural networks and the morphology and density of neurons and glial cells. Previous studies have shown association of CNTNAP2 variants with language-related phenotypes in health and disease. Here, we report associations of a common CNTNAP2 polymorphism (rs7794745) with variation in grey matter in a region in the dorsal visual stream. We tried to replicate an earlier study on 314 subjects by Tan and colleagues (2010), but now in a substantially larger group of more than 1700 subjects. Carriers of the T allele showed reduced grey matter volume in left superior occipital gyrus, while we did not replicate associations with grey matter volume in other regions identified by Tan et al (2010). Our work illustrates the importance of independent replication in neuroimaging genetic studies of language-related candidate genes.
  • Hubers, F., Snijders, T. M., & de Hoop, H. (2016). How the brain processes violations of the grammatical norm: An fMRI study. Brain and Language, 163, 22-31. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2016.08.006.

    Abstract

    Native speakers of Dutch do not always adhere to prescriptive grammar rules in their daily speech. These grammatical norm violations can elicit emotional reactions in language purists, mostly high-educated people, who claim that for them these constructions are truly ungrammatical. However, linguists generally assume that grammatical norm violations are in fact truly grammatical, especially when they occur frequently in a language. In an fMRI study we investigated the processing of grammatical norm violations in the brains of language purists, and compared them with truly grammatical and truly ungrammatical sentences. Grammatical norm violations were found to be unique in that their processing resembled not only the processing of truly grammatical sentences (in left medial Superior Frontal Gyrus and Angular Gyrus), but also that of truly ungrammatical sentences (in Inferior Frontal Gyrus), despite what theories of grammar would usually lead us to believe.
  • Hubers, F., Snijders, T. M., & De Hoop, H. (2016). How the brain processes violations of the grammatical norm: An fMRI study. Brain and Language, 163, 22-31. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2016.08.006.

    Abstract

    Native speakers of Dutch do not always adhere to prescriptive grammar rules in their daily speech. These grammatical norm violations can elicit emotional reactions in language purists, mostly high-educated people, who claim that for them these constructions are truly ungrammatical. However, linguists generally assume that grammatical norm violations are in fact truly grammatical, especially when they occur frequently in a language. In an fMRI study we investigated the processing of grammatical norm violations in the brains of language purists, and compared them with truly grammatical and truly ungrammatical sentences. Grammatical norm violations were found to be unique in that their processing resembled not only the processing of truly grammatical sentences (in left medial Superior Frontal Gyrus and Angular Gyrus), but also that of truly ungrammatical sentences (in Inferior Frontal Gyrus), despite what theories of grammar would usually lead us to believe
  • Peeters, D., Snijders, T. M., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2015). The role of left inferior frontal Gyrus in the integration of point- ing gestures and speech. In G. Ferré, & M. Tutton (Eds.), Proceedings of the4th GESPIN - Gesture & Speech in Interaction Conference. Nantes: Université de Nantes.

    Abstract

    Comprehension of pointing gestures is fundamental to human communication. However, the neural mechanisms that subserve the integration of pointing gestures and speech in visual contexts in comprehension are unclear. Here we present the results of an fMRI study in which participants watched images of an actor pointing at an object while they listened to her referential speech. The use of a mismatch paradigm revealed that the semantic unication of pointing gesture and speech in a triadic context recruits left inferior frontal gyrus. Complementing previous ndings, this suggests that left inferior frontal gyrus semantically integrates information across modalities and semiotic domains.
  • Van den Boomen, C., Fahrenfort, J. J., Snijders, T. M., & Kemner, C. (2015). Segmentation precedes face categorization under suboptimal conditions. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 667. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00667.

    Abstract

    Both categorization and segmentation processes play a crucial role in face perception. However, the functional relation between these subprocesses is currently unclear. The present study investigates the temporal relation between segmentation-related and category-selective responses in the brain, using electroencephalography (EEG). Surface segmentation and category content were both manipulated using texture-defined objects, including faces. This allowed us to study brain activity related to segmentation and to categorization. In the main experiment, participants viewed texture-defined objects for a duration of 800 ms. EEG results revealed that segmentation-related responses precede category-selective responses. Three additional experiments revealed that the presence and timing of categorization depends on stimulus properties and presentation duration. Photographic objects were presented for a long and short (92 ms) duration and evoked fast category-selective responses in both cases. On the other hand, presentation of texture-defined objects for a short duration only evoked segmentation-related but no category-selective responses. Category-selective responses were much slower when evoked by texture-defined than by photographic objects. We suggest that in case of categorization of objects under suboptimal conditions, such as when low-level stimulus properties are not sufficient for fast object categorization, segmentation facilitates the slower categorization process
  • Hessels, R. S., Hooge, I., Snijders, T. M., & Kemner, C. (2014). Is there a limit to the superiority of individuals with ASD in visual search? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 443-451. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1886-8.

    Abstract

    Superiority in visual search for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a well-reported finding. We administered two visual search tasks to individuals with ASD and matched controls. One showed no difference between the groups, and one did show the expected superior performance for individuals with ASD. These results offer an explanation, formulated in terms of load theory. We suggest that there is a limit to the superiority in visual search for individuals with ASD, related to the perceptual load of the stimuli. When perceptual load becomes so high that no additional task-(ir)relevant information can be processed, performance will be based on single stimulus identification, in which no differences between individuals with ASD and controls have been demonstrated
  • Boersma, M., Kemner, C., de Reus, M. A., Collin, G., Snijders, T. M., Hofman, D., Buitelaar, J. K., Stam, C. J., & van den Heuvel, M. P. (2013). Disrupted functional brain networks in autistic toddlers. Brain Connectivity, 3(1), 41-49. doi:10.1089/brain.2012.0127.

    Abstract

    Communication and integration of information between brain regions plays a key role in healthy brain function. Conversely, disruption in brain communication may lead to cognitive and behavioral problems. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by impaired social interactions and aberrant basic information processing. Aberrant brain connectivity patterns have indeed been hypothesized to be a key neural underpinning of autism. In this study, graph analytical tools are used to explore the possible deviant functional brain network organization in autism at a very early stage of brain development. Electroencephalography (EEG) recordings in 12 toddlers with autism (mean age 3.5 years) and 19 control subjects were used to assess interregional functional brain connectivity, with functional brain networks constructed at the level of temporal synchronization between brain regions underlying the EEG electrodes. Children with autism showed a significantly increased normalized path length and reduced normalized clustering, suggesting a reduced global communication capacity already during early brain development. In addition, whole brain connectivity was found to be significantly reduced in these young patients suggesting an overall under-connectivity of functional brain networks in autism. Our findings support the hypothesis of abnormal neural communication in autism, with deviating effects already present at the early stages of brain development
  • Snijders, T. M., Milivojevic, B., & Kemner, C. (2013). Atypical excitation-inhibition balance in autism captured by the gamma response to contextual modulation. NeuroImage: Clinical, 3, 65-72. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2013.06.015.

    Abstract

    Atypical visual perception in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is hypothesized to stem from an imbalance in excitatory and inhibitory processes in the brain. We used neuronal oscillations in the gamma frequency range (30 – 90 Hz), which emerge from a balanced interaction of excitation and inhibition in the brain, to assess contextual modulation processes in early visual perception. Electroencephalography was recorded in 12 high-functioning adults with ASD and 12 age- and IQ-matched control participants. Oscilla- tions in the gamma frequency range were analyzed in response to stimuli consisting of small line-like elements. Orientation-speci fi c contextual modulation was manipulated by parametrically increasing the amount of homogeneously oriented elements in the stimuli. The stimuli elicited a strong steady-state gamma response around the refresh-rate of 60 Hz, which was larger for controls than for participants with ASD. The amount of orientation homogeneity (contextual modulation) in fl uenced the gamma response in control subjects, while for subjects with ASD this was not the case. The atypical steady-state gamma response to contextual modulation in subjects with ASD may capture the link between an imbalance in excitatory and inhibitory neuronal processing and atypical visual processing in ASD
  • Fahrenfort, J. J., Snijders, T. M., Heinen, K., van Gaal, S., & Scholte, H. S. (2012). Neuronal integration in visual cortex elevates face category tuning to conscious face perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(52), 21504-21509. doi:10.1073/pnas.1207414110.
  • Kos, M., Van den Brink, D., Snijders, T. M., Rijpkema, M., Franke, B., Fernandez, G., Hagoort, P., & Whitehouse, A. (2012). CNTNAP2 and language processing in healthy individuals as measured with ERPs. PLoS One, 7(10), e46995. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046995.

    Abstract

    The genetic FOXP2-CNTNAP2 pathway has been shown to be involved in the language capacity. We investigated whether a common variant of CNTNAP2 (rs7794745) is relevant for syntactic and semantic processing in the general population by using a visual sentence processing paradigm while recording ERPs in 49 healthy adults. While both AA homozygotes and T-carriers showed a standard N400 effect to semantic anomalies, the response to subject-verb agreement violations differed across genotype groups. T-carriers displayed an anterior negativity preceding the P600 effect, whereas for the AA group only a P600 effect was observed. These results provide another piece of evidence that the neuronal architecture of the human faculty of language is shaped differently by effects that are genetically determined.
  • Snijders, T. M. (2010). More than words: Neural and genetic dynamics of syntactic unification. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Snijders, T. M., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Effective connectivity of cortical and subcortical regions during unification of sentence structure. NeuroImage, 52, 1633-1644. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.05.035.

    Abstract

    In a recent fMRI study we showed that left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LpMTG) subserves the retrieval of a word's lexical-syntactic properties from the mental lexicon (long-term memory), while left posterior inferior frontal gyrus (LpIFG) is involved in unifying (on-line integration of) this information into a sentence structure (Snijders et al., 2009). In addition, the right IFG, right MTG, and the right striatum were involved in the unification process. Here we report results from a psychophysical interactions (PPI) analysis in which we investigated the effective connectivity between LpIFG and LpMTG during unification, and how the right hemisphere areas and the striatum are functionally connected to the unification network. LpIFG and LpMTG both showed enhanced connectivity during the unification process with a region slightly superior to our previously reported LpMTG. Right IFG better predicted right temporal activity when unification processes were more strongly engaged, just as LpIFG better predicted left temporal activity. Furthermore, the striatum showed enhanced coupling to LpIFG and LpMTG during unification. We conclude that bilateral inferior frontal and posterior temporal regions are functionally connected during sentence-level unification. Cortico-subcortical connectivity patterns suggest cooperation between inferior frontal and striatal regions in performing unification operations on lexical-syntactic representations retrieved from LpMTG.
  • Snijders, T. M., Vosse, T., Kempen, G., Van Berkum, J. J. A., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2009). Retrieval and unification of syntactic structure in sentence comprehension: An fMRI study using word-category ambiguity. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 1493-1503. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn187.

    Abstract

    Sentence comprehension requires the retrieval of single word information from long-term memory, and the integration of this information into multiword representations. The current functional magnetic resonance imaging study explored the hypothesis that the left posterior temporal gyrus supports the retrieval of lexical-syntactic information, whereas left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) contributes to syntactic unification. Twenty-eight subjects read sentences and word sequences containing word-category (noun–verb) ambiguous words at critical positions. Regions contributing to the syntactic unification process should show enhanced activation for sentences compared to words, and only within sentences display a larger signal for ambiguous than unambiguous conditions. The posterior LIFG showed exactly this predicted pattern, confirming our hypothesis that LIFG contributes to syntactic unification. The left posterior middle temporal gyrus was activated more for ambiguous than unambiguous conditions (main effect over both sentences and word sequences), as predicted for regions subserving the retrieval of lexical-syntactic information from memory. We conclude that understanding language involves the dynamic interplay between left inferior frontal and left posterior temporal regions.

    Supplementary material

    suppl1.pdf suppl2_dutch_stimulus.pdf
  • Snijders, T. M., Kooijman, V., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Neurophysiological evidence of delayed segmentation in a foreign language. Brain Research, 1178, 106-113. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.07.080.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that segmentation skills are language-specific, making it difficult to segment continuous speech in an unfamiliar language into its component words. Here we present the first study capturing the delay in segmentation and recognition in the foreign listener using ERPs. We compared the ability of Dutch adults and of English adults without knowledge of Dutch (‘foreign listeners’) to segment familiarized words from continuous Dutch speech. We used the known effect of repetition on the event-related potential (ERP) as an index of recognition of words in continuous speech. Our results show that word repetitions in isolation are recognized with equivalent facility by native and foreign listeners, but word repetitions in continuous speech are not. First, words familiarized in isolation are recognized faster by native than by foreign listeners when they are repeated in continuous speech. Second, when words that have previously been heard only in a continuous-speech context re-occur in continuous speech, the repetition is detected by native listeners, but is not detected by foreign listeners. A preceding speech context facilitates word recognition for native listeners, but delays or even inhibits word recognition for foreign listeners. We propose that the apparent difference in segmentation rate between native and foreign listeners is grounded in the difference in language-specific skills available to the listeners.

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