Publications

Displaying 201 - 300 of 8415
  • Ortega, G., & Ostarek, M. (2021). Evidence for visual simulation during sign language processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150(10), 2158-2166. doi:10.1037/xge0001041.

    Abstract

    What are the mental processes that allow us to understand the meaning of words? A large body of evidence suggests that when we process speech, we engage a process of perceptual simulation whereby sensorimotor states are activated as a source of semantic information. But does the same process take place when words are expressed with the hands and perceived through the eyes? To date, it is not known whether perceptual simulation is also observed in sign languages, the manual-visual languages of deaf communities. Continuous flash suppression is a method that addresses this question by measuring the effect of language on detection sensitivity to images that are suppressed from awareness. In spoken languages, it has been reported that listening to a word (e.g., “bottle”) activates visual features of an object (e.g., the shape of a bottle), and this in turn facilitates image detection. An interesting but untested question is whether the same process takes place when deaf signers see signs. We found that processing signs boosted the detection of congruent images, making otherwise invisible pictures visible. A boost of visual processing was observed only for signers but not for hearing nonsigners, suggesting that the penetration of the visual system through signs requires a fully fledged manual language. Iconicity did not modulate the effect of signs on detection, neither in signers nor in hearing nonsigners. This suggests that visual simulation during language processing occurs regardless of language modality (sign vs. speech) or iconicity, pointing to a foundational role of simulation for language comprehension.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Ostarek, M., & Bottini, R. (2021). Towards strong inference in research on embodiment – Possibilities and limitations of causal paradigms. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 5. doi:10.5334/joc.139.

    Abstract

    A central question in the cognitive sciences is which role embodiment plays for high- level cognitive functions, such as conceptual processing. here, we propose that one reason why progress regarding this question has been slow is a lacking focus on what platt (1964) called “strong inference”. strong inference is possible when results from an experimental paradigm are not merely consistent with a hypothesis, but they provide decisive evidence for one particular hypothesis compared to competing hypotheses. We discuss how causal paradigms, which test the functional relevance of sensory-motor processes for high-level cognitive functions, can move the field forward. in particular, we explore how congenital sensory-motor disorders, acquired sensory-motor deficits, and interference paradigms with healthy participants can be utilized as an opportunity to better understand the role of sensory experience in conceptual processing. Whereas all three approaches can bring about valuable insights, we highlight that the study of congenitally and acquired sensorimotor disorders is particularly effective in the case of conceptual domains with strong unimodal basis (e.g., colors), whereas interference paradigms with healthy participants have a broader application, avoid many of the practical and interpretational limitations of patient studies, and allow a systematic and step-wise progressive inference approach to causal mechanisms.
  • Ota, M., San Jose, A., & Smith, K. (2021). The emergence of word-internal repetition through iterated learning: Explaining the mismatch between learning biases and language design. Cognition, 210: 104585. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104585.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary data data
  • Ozyurek, A. (2021). Considering the nature of multimodal language from a crosslinguistic perspective. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 42. doi:10.5334/joc.165.

    Abstract

    Language in its primary face-to-face context is multimodal (e.g., Holler and Levinson, 2019; Perniss, 2018). Thus, understanding how expressions in the vocal and visual modalities together contribute to our notions of language structure, use, processing, and transmission (i.e., acquisition, evolution, emergence) in different languages and cultures should be a fundamental goal of language sciences. This requires a new framework of language that brings together how arbitrary and non-arbitrary and motivated semiotic resources of language relate to each other. Current commentary evaluates such a proposal by Murgiano et al (2021) from a crosslinguistic perspective taking variation as well as systematicity in multimodal utterances into account.
  • Parente, F., Conklin, K., Guy, J. M., & Scott, R. (2021). The role of empirical methods in investigating readers’ constructions of authorial creativity in literary reading. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics, 30(1), 21-36. doi:10.1177/0963947020952200.

    Abstract

    The popularity of literary biographies and the importance publishers place on author publicity materials suggest the concept of an author’s creative intentions is important to readers’ appreciation of literary works. However, the question of how this kind of contextual information informs literary interpretation is contentious. One area of dispute concerns the extent to which readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions are text-centred and therefore can adequately be understood by linguistic evidence alone. The current study shows how the relationship between linguistic and contextual factors in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions may be investigated empirically. We use eye-tracking to determine whether readers’ responses to textual features (changes to lexis and punctuation) are affected by prior, extra-textual prompts concerning information about an author’s creative intentions. We showed participants pairs of sentences from Oscar Wilde and Henry James while monitoring their eye movements. The first sentence was followed by a prompt denoting a different attribution (Authorial, Editorial/Publisher and Typographic) for the change that, if present, would appear in the second sentence. After reading the second sentence, participants were asked whether they had detected a change and, if so, to describe it. If the concept of an author’s creative intentions is implicated in literary reading this should influence participants’ reading behaviour and ability to accurately report a change based on the prompt. The findings showed that readers’ noticing of textual variants was sensitive to the prior prompt about its authorship, in the sense of producing an effect on attention and re-reading times. But they also showed that these effects did not follow the pattern predicted of them, based on prior assumptions about readers’ cultures. This last finding points to the importance, as well as the challenges, of further investigating the role of contextual information in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions.
  • Hu, Y., Lv, Q., Pascual, E., Liang, J., & Huettig, F. (2021). Syntactic priming in illiterate and literate older Chinese adults. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 267-286. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00082-9.

    Abstract

    Does life-long literacy experience modulate syntactic priming in spoken language processing? Such a postulated influence is compatible with usage-based theories of language processing that propose that all linguistic skills are a function of accumulated experience with language across life. Here we investigated the effect of literacy experience on syntactic priming in Mandarin in sixty Chinese older adults from Hebei province. Thirty participants were completely illiterate and thirty were literate Mandarin speakers of similar age and socioeconomic background. We first observed usage differences: literates produced robustly more prepositional object (PO) constructions than illiterates. This replicates, with a different sample, language, and cultural background, previous findings that literacy experience affects (baseline) usage of PO and DO transitive alternates. We also observed robust syntactic priming for double-object (DO), but not prepositional-object (PO) dative alternations for both groups. The magnitude of this DO priming however was higher in literates than in illiterates. We also observed that cumulative adaptation in syntactic priming differed as a function of literacy. Cumulative syntactic priming in literates appears to be related mostly to comprehending others, whereas in illiterates it is also associated with repeating self-productions. Further research is needed to confirm this interpretation.
  • Pazoki, R., Lin, B. D., Van Eijk, K. R., Schijven, D., De Zwarte, S., GROUP Investigators, Guloksuz, S., & Luykx, J. J. (2021). Phenome-wide and genome-wide analyses of quality of life in schizophrenia. BJPsych Open, 7(1): e13. doi:10.1192/bjo.2020.140.

    Abstract

    Background Schizophrenia negatively affects quality of life (QoL). A handful of variables from small studies have been reported to influence QoL in patients with schizophrenia, but a study comprehensively dissecting the genetic and non-genetic contributing factors to QoL in these patients is currently lacking. Aims We adopted a hypothesis-generating approach to assess the phenotypic and genotypic determinants of QoL in schizophrenia. Method The study population comprised 1119 patients with a psychotic disorder, 1979 relatives and 586 healthy controls. Using linear regression, we tested >100 independent demographic, cognitive and clinical phenotypes for their association with QoL in patients. We then performed genome-wide association analyses of QoL and examined the association between polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and subjective well-being and QoL. Results We found nine phenotypes to be significantly and independently associated with QoL in patients, the most significant ones being negative (β = −1.17; s.e. 0.05; P = 1 × 10–83; r2 = 38%), depressive (β = −1.07; s.e. 0.05; P = 2 × 10–79; r2 = 36%) and emotional distress (β = −0.09; s.e. 0.01; P = 4 × 10–59, r2 = 25%) symptoms. Schizophrenia and subjective well-being polygenic risk scores, using various P-value thresholds, were significantly and consistently associated with QoL (lowest association P-value = 6.8 × 10–6). Several sensitivity analyses confirmed the results. Conclusions Various clinical phenotypes of schizophrenia, as well as schizophrenia and subjective well-being polygenic risk scores, are associated with QoL in patients with schizophrenia and their relatives. These may be targeted by clinicians to more easily identify vulnerable patients with schizophrenia for further social and clinical interventions to improve their QoL.
  • Peeters, D., Krahmer, E., & Maes, A. (2021). A conceptual framework for the study of demonstrative reference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 28, 409-433. doi:10.3758/s13423-020-01822-8.

    Abstract

    Language allows us to efficiently communicate about the things in the world around us. Seemingly simple words like this and that are a cornerstone of our capability to refer, as they contribute to guiding the attention of our addressee to the specific entity we are talking about. Such demonstratives are acquired early in life, ubiquitous in everyday talk, often closely tied to our gestural communicative abilities, and present in all spoken languages of the world. Based on a review of recent experimental work, we here introduce a new conceptual framework of demonstrative reference. In the context of this framework, we argue that several physical, psychological, and referent-intrinsic factors dynamically interact to influence whether a speaker will use one demonstrative form (e.g., this) or another (e.g., that) in a given setting. However, the relative influence of these factors themselves is argued to be a function of the cultural language setting at hand, the theory-of-mind capacities of the speaker, and the affordances of the specific context in which the speech event takes place. It is demonstrated that the framework has the potential to reconcile findings in the literature that previously seemed irreconcilable. We show that the framework may to a large extent generalize to instances of endophoric reference (e.g., anaphora) and speculate that it may also describe the specific form and kinematics a speaker’s pointing gesture takes. Testable predictions and novel research questions derived from the framework are presented and discussed.
  • Pender, R., Fearon, P., St Pourcain, B., Heron, J., & Mandy, W. (2021). Developmental trajectories of autistic social traits in the general population. Psychological Medicine. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0033291721002166.

    Abstract

    Background Autistic people show diverse trajectories of autistic traits over time, a phenomenon labelled ‘chronogeneity’. For example, some show a decrease in symptoms, whilst others experience an intensification of difficulties. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a dimensional condition, representing one end of a trait continuum that extends throughout the population. To date, no studies have investigated chronogeneity across the full range of autistic traits. We investigated the nature and clinical significance of autism trait chronogeneity in a large, general population sample. Methods Autistic social/communication traits (ASTs) were measured in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children using the Social and Communication Disorders Checklist (SCDC) at ages 7, 10, 13 and 16 (N = 9744). We used Growth Mixture Modelling (GMM) to identify groups defined by their AST trajectories. Measures of ASD diagnosis, sex, IQ and mental health (internalising and externalising) were used to investigate external validity of the derived trajectory groups. Results The selected GMM model identified four AST trajectory groups: (i) Persistent High (2.3% of sample), (ii) Persistent Low (83.5%), (iii) Increasing (7.3%) and (iv) Decreasing (6.9%) trajectories. The Increasing group, in which females were a slight majority (53.2%), showed dramatic increases in SCDC scores during adolescence, accompanied by escalating internalising and externalising difficulties. Two-thirds (63.6%) of the Decreasing group were male. Conclusions Clinicians should note that for some young people autism-trait-like social difficulties first emerge during adolescence accompanied by problems with mood, anxiety, conduct and attention. A converse, majority-male group shows decreasing social difficulties during adolescence.
  • Petras, K., Ten Oever, S., Dalal, S. S., & Goffaux, V. (2021). Information redundancy across spatial scales modulates early visual cortical processing. NeuroImage, 244: 118613. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118613.

    Abstract

    Visual images contain redundant information across spatial scales where low spatial frequency contrast is informative towards the location and likely content of high spatial frequency detail. Previous research suggests that the visual system makes use of those redundancies to facilitate efficient processing. In this framework, a fast, initial analysis of low-spatial frequency (LSF) information guides the slower and later processing of high spatial frequency (HSF) detail. Here, we used multivariate classification as well as time-frequency analysis of MEG responses to the viewing of intact and phase scrambled images of human faces to demonstrate that the availability of redundant LSF information, as found in broadband intact images, correlates with a reduction in HSF representational dominance in both early and higher-level visual areas as well as a reduction of gamma-band power in early visual cortex. Our results indicate that the cross spatial frequency information redundancy that can be found in all natural images might be a driving factor in the efficient integration of fine image details.

    Additional information

    supplementary materials
  • Poletiek, F. H., Monaghan, P., van de Velde, M., & Bocanegra, B. R. (2021). The semantics-syntax interface: Learning grammatical categories and hierarchical syntactic structure through semantics. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(7), 1141-1155. doi:10.1037/xlm0001044.

    Abstract

    Language is infinitely productive because syntax defines dependencies between grammatical categories of words and constituents, so there is interchangeability of these words and constituents within syntactic structures. Previous laboratory-based studies of language learning have shown that complex language structures like hierarchical center embeddings (HCE) are very hard to learn, but these studies tend to simplify the language learning task, omitting semantics and focusing either on learning dependencies between individual words or on acquiring the category membership of those words. We tested whether categories of words and dependencies between these categories and between constituents, could be learned simultaneously in an artificial language with HCE’s, when accompanied by scenes illustrating the sentence’s intended meaning. Across four experiments, we showed that participants were able to learn the HCE language varying words across categories and category-dependencies, and constituents across constituents-dependencies. They also were able to generalize the learned structure to novel sentences and novel scenes that they had not previously experienced. This simultaneous learning resulting in a productive complex language system, may be a consequence of grounding complex syntax acquisition in semantics.
  • Postema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M. and 85 morePostema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M., Chantiluke, K. C., Christakou, A., Coghill, D., Conzelmann, A., Cubillo, A. I., Cupertino, R. B., De Zeeuw, P., Doyle, A. E., Durston, S., Earl, E. A., Epstein, J. N., Ethofer, T., Fair, D. A., Fallgatter, A. J., Faraone, S. V., Frodl, T., Gabel, M. C., Gogberashvili, T., Grevet, E. H., Haavik, J., Harrison, N. A., Hartman, C. A., Heslenfeld, D. J., Hoekstra, P. J., Hohmann, S., Høvik, M. F., Jernigan, T. L., Kardatzki, B., Karkashadze, G., Kelly, C., Kohls, G., Konrad, K., Kuntsi, J., Lazaro, L., Lera-Miguel, S., Lesch, K.-P., Louza, M. R., Lundervold, A. J., Malpas, C. B., Mattos, P., McCarthy, H., Namazova-Baranova, L., Nicolau, R., Nigg, J. T., Novotny, S. E., Oberwelland Weiss, E., O'Gorman Tuura, R. L., Oosterlaan, J., Oranje, B., Paloyelis, Y., Pauli, P., Picon, F. A., Plessen, K. J., Ramos-Quiroga, J. A., Reif, A., Reneman, L., Rosa, P. G. P., Rubia, K., Schrantee, A., Schweren, L. J. S., Seitz, J., Shaw, P., Silk, T. J., Skokauskas, N., Soliva Vila, J. C., Stevens, M. C., Sudre, G., Tamm, L., Tovar-Moll, F., Van Erp, T. G. M., Vance, A., Vilarroya, O., Vives-Gilabert, Y., Von Polier, G. G., Walitza, S., Yoncheva, Y. N., Zanetti, M. V., Ziegler, G. C., Glahn, D. C., Jahanshad, N., Medland, S. E., ENIGMA ADHD Working Group, Thompson, P. M., Fisher, S. E., Franke, B., & Francks, C. (2021). Analysis of structural brain asymmetries in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in 39 datasets. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 62(10), 1202-1219. doi:10.1111/jcpp.13396.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    jcpp13396-sup-0001-supinfo.pdf
  • Postema, M. (2021). Left-right asymmetry of the human brain: Associations with neurodevelopmental disorders and genetic factors. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Pouw, W., De Jonge-Hoekstra, L., Harrison, S. J., Paxton, A., & Dixon, J. A. (2021). Gesture-speech physics in fluent speech and rhythmic upper limb movements. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1491(1), 89-105. doi:10.1111/nyas.14532.

    Abstract

    Communicative hand gestures are often coordinated with prosodic aspects of speech, and salient moments of gestural movement (e.g., quick changes in speed) often co-occur with salient moments in speech (e.g., near peaks in fundamental frequency and intensity). A common understanding is that such gesture and speech coordination is culturally and cognitively acquired, rather than having a biological basis. Recently, however, the biomechanical physical coupling of arm movements to speech movements has been identified as a potentially important factor in understanding the emergence of gesture-speech coordination. Specifically, in the case of steady-state vocalization and mono-syllable utterances, forces produced during gesturing are transferred onto the tensioned body, leading to changes in respiratory-related activity and thereby affecting vocalization F0 and intensity. In the current experiment (N = 37), we extend this previous line of work to show that gesture-speech physics impacts fluent speech, too. Compared with non-movement, participants who are producing fluent self-formulated speech, while rhythmically moving their limbs, demonstrate heightened F0 and amplitude envelope, and such effects are more pronounced for higher-impulse arm versus lower-impulse wrist movement. We replicate that acoustic peaks arise especially during moments of peak-impulse (i.e., the beat) of the movement, namely around deceleration phases of the movement. Finally, higher deceleration rates of higher-mass arm movements were related to higher peaks in acoustics. These results confirm a role for physical-impulses of gesture affecting the speech system. We discuss the implications of gesture-speech physics for understanding of the emergence of communicative gesture, both ontogenetically and phylogenetically.

    Additional information

    data and analyses
  • Pouw, W., Wit, J., Bögels, S., Rasenberg, M., Milivojevic, B., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). Semantically related gestures move alike: Towards a distributional semantics of gesture kinematics. In V. G. Duffy (Ed.), Digital human modeling and applications in health, safety, ergonomics and risk management. human body, motion and behavior:12th International Conference, DHM 2021, Held as Part of the 23rd HCI International Conference, HCII 2021 (pp. 269-287). Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-77817-0_20.
  • Pouw, W., Dingemanse, M., Motamedi, Y., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). A systematic investigation of gesture kinematics in evolving manual languages in the lab. Cognitive Science, 45(7): e13014. doi:10.1111/cogs.13014.

    Abstract

    Silent gestures consist of complex multi-articulatory movements but are now primarily studied through categorical coding of the referential gesture content. The relation of categorical linguistic content with continuous kinematics is therefore poorly understood. Here, we reanalyzed the video data from a gestural evolution experiment (Motamedi, Schouwstra, Smith, Culbertson, & Kirby, 2019), which showed increases in the systematicity of gesture content over time. We applied computer vision techniques to quantify the kinematics of the original data. Our kinematic analyses demonstrated that gestures become more efficient and less complex in their kinematics over generations of learners. We further detect the systematicity of gesture form on the level of thegesture kinematic interrelations, which directly scales with the systematicity obtained on semantic coding of the gestures. Thus, from continuous kinematics alone, we can tap into linguistic aspects that were previously only approachable through categorical coding of meaning. Finally, going beyond issues of systematicity, we show how unique gesture kinematic dialects emerged over generations as isolated chains of participants gradually diverged over iterations from other chains. We, thereby, conclude that gestures can come to embody the linguistic system at the level of interrelationships between communicative tokens, which should calibrate our theories about form and linguistic content.
  • Pouw, W., Proksch, S., Drijvers, L., Gamba, M., Holler, J., Kello, C., Schaefer, R. S., & Wiggins, G. A. (2021). Multilevel rhythms in multimodal communication. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 376: 20200334. doi:10.1098/rstb.2020.0334.

    Abstract

    It is now widely accepted that the brunt of animal communication is conducted via several modalities, e.g. acoustic and visual, either simultaneously or sequentially. This is a laudable multimodal turn relative to traditional accounts of temporal aspects of animal communication which have focused on a single modality at a time. However, the fields that are currently contributing to the study of multimodal communication are highly varied, and still largely disconnected given their sole focus on a particular level of description or their particular concern with human or non-human animals. Here, we provide an integrative overview of converging findings that show how multimodal processes occurring at neural, bodily, as well as social interactional levels each contribute uniquely to the complex rhythms that characterize communication in human and non-human animals. Though we address findings for each of these levels independently, we conclude that the most important challenge in this field is to identify how processes at these different levels connect.
  • Preisig, B., Riecke, L., Sjerps, M. J., Kösem, A., Kop, B. R., Bramson, B., Hagoort, P., & Hervais-Adelman, A. (2021). Selective modulation of interhemispheric connectivity by transcranial alternating current stimulation influences binaural integration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(7): e2015488118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2015488118.

    Abstract

    Brain connectivity plays a major role in the encoding, transfer, and integration of sensory information. Interregional synchronization of neural oscillations in the γ-frequency band has been suggested as a key mechanism underlying perceptual integration. In a recent study, we found evidence for this hypothesis showing that the modulation of interhemispheric oscillatory synchrony by means of bihemispheric high-density transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-TACS) affects binaural integration of dichotic acoustic features. Here, we aimed to establish a direct link between oscillatory synchrony, effective brain connectivity, and binaural integration. We experimentally manipulated oscillatory synchrony (using bihemispheric γ-TACS with different interhemispheric phase lags) and assessed the effect on effective brain connectivity and binaural integration (as measured with functional MRI and a dichotic listening task, respectively). We found that TACS reduced intrahemispheric connectivity within the auditory cortices and antiphase (interhemispheric phase lag 180°) TACS modulated connectivity between the two auditory cortices. Importantly, the changes in intra- and interhemispheric connectivity induced by TACS were correlated with changes in perceptual integration. Our results indicate that γ-band synchronization between the two auditory cortices plays a functional role in binaural integration, supporting the proposed role of interregional oscillatory synchrony in perceptual integration.
  • Pronina, M., Hübscher, I., Holler, J., & Prieto, P. (2021). Interactional training interventions boost children’s expressive pragmatic abilities: Evidence from a novel multidimensional testing approach. Cognitive Development, 57: 101003. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2020.101003.

    Abstract

    This study investigates the effectiveness of training preschoolers in order to enhance their social cognition and pragmatic skills. Eighty-three 3–4-year-olds were divided into three groups and listened to stories enriched with mental state terms. Then, whereas the control group engaged in non-reflective activities, the two experimental groups were guided by a trainer to reflect on mental states depicted in the stories. In one of these groups, the children were prompted to not only talk about these states but also “embody” them through prosodic and gestural cues. Results showed that while there were no significant effects on Theory of Mind, emotion understanding, and mental state verb comprehension, the experimental groups significantly improved their pragmatic skill scores pretest-to-posttest. These results suggest that interactional interventions can contribute to preschoolers’ pragmatic development, demonstrate the value of the new embodied training, and highlight the importance of multidimensional testing for the evaluation of intervention effects.
  • Puebla, G., Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2021). The relational processing limits of classic and contemporary neural network models of language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(2), 240-254. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1821906.

    Abstract

    Whether neural networks can capture relational knowledge is a matter of long-standing controversy. Recently, some researchers have argued that (1) classic connectionist models can handle relational structure and (2) the success of deep learning approaches to natural language processing suggests that structured representations are unnecessary to model human language. We tested the Story Gestalt model, a classic connectionist model of text comprehension, and a Sequence-to-Sequence with Attention model, a modern deep learning architecture for natural language processing. Both models were trained to answer questions about stories based on abstract thematic roles. Two simulations varied the statistical structure of new stories while keeping their relational structure intact. The performance of each model fell below chance at least under one manipulation. We argue that both models fail our tests because they can't perform dynamic binding. These results cast doubts on the suitability of traditional neural networks for explaining relational reasoning and language processing phenomena.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Räsänen, O., Seshadri, S., Lavechin, M., Cristia, A., & Casillas, M. (2021). ALICE: An open-source tool for automatic measurement of phoneme, syllable, and word counts from child-centered daylong recordings. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 818-835. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01460-x.

    Abstract

    Recordings captured by wearable microphones are a standard method for investigating young children’s language environments. A key measure to quantify from such data is the amount of speech present in children’s home environments. To this end, the LENA recorder and software—a popular system for measuring linguistic input—estimates the number of adult words that children may hear over the course of a recording. However, word count estimation is challenging to do in a language-independent manner; the relationship between observable acoustic patterns and language-specific lexical entities is far from uniform across human languages. In this paper, we ask whether some alternative linguistic units, namely phone(me)s or syllables, could be measured instead of, or in parallel with, words in order to achieve improved cross-linguistic applicability and comparability of an automated system for measuring child language input. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of measuring different units from theoretical and technical points of view. We also investigate the practical applicability of measuring such units using a novel system called Automatic LInguistic unit Count Estimator (ALICE) together with audio from seven child-centered daylong audio corpora from diverse cultural and linguistic environments. We show that language-independent measurement of phoneme counts is somewhat more accurate than syllables or words, but all three are highly correlated with human annotations on the same data. We share an open-source implementation of ALICE for use by the language research community, allowing automatic phoneme, syllable, and word count estimation from child-centered audio recordings.
  • Ravignani, A., & De Boer, B. (2021). Joint origins of speech and music: Testing evolutionary hypotheses on modern humans. Semiotica, 239, 169-176. doi:10.1515/sem-2019-0048.

    Abstract

    How music and speech evolved is a mystery. Several hypotheses on their origins, including one on their joint origins, have been put forward but rarely tested. Here we report and comment on the first experiment testing the hypothesis that speech and music bifurcated from a common system. We highlight strengths of the reported experiment, point out its relatedness to animal work, and suggest three alternative interpretations of its results. We conclude by sketching a future empirical programme extending this work.
  • Ravignani, A. (2021). Isochrony, vocal learning and the acquisition of rhythm and melody. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 44: e88. doi:10.1017/S0140525X20001478.

    Abstract

    A cross-species perspective can extend and provide testable predictions for Savage et al.’s framework. Rhythm and melody, I argue, could bootstrap each other in the evolution of musicality. Isochrony may function as a temporal grid to support rehearsing and learning modulated, pitched vocalizations. Once this melodic plasticity is acquired, focus can shift back to refining rhythm processing and beat induction.
  • Raviv, L., De Heer Kloots, M., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). What makes a language easy to learn? A preregistered study on how systematic structure and community size affect language learnability. Cognition, 210: 104620. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104620.

    Abstract

    Cross-linguistic differences in morphological complexity could have important consequences for language learning. Specifically, it is often assumed that languages with more regular, compositional, and transparent grammars are easier to learn by both children and adults. Moreover, it has been shown that such grammars are more likely to evolve in bigger communities. Together, this suggests that some languages are acquired faster than others, and that this advantage can be traced back to community size and to the degree of systematicity in the language. However, the causal relationship between systematic linguistic structure and language learnability has not been formally tested, despite its potential importance for theories on language evolution, second language learning, and the origin of linguistic diversity. In this pre-registered study, we experimentally tested the effects of community size and systematic structure on adult language learning. We compared the acquisition of different yet comparable artificial languages that were created by big or small groups in a previous communication experiment, which varied in their degree of systematic linguistic structure. We asked (a) whether more structured languages were easier to learn; and (b) whether languages created by the bigger groups were easier to learn. We found that highly systematic languages were learned faster and more accurately by adults, but that the relationship between language learnability and linguistic structure was typically non-linear: high systematicity was advantageous for learning, but learners did not benefit from partly or semi-structured languages. Community size did not affect learnability: languages that evolved in big and small groups were equally learnable, and there was no additional advantage for languages created by bigger groups beyond their degree of systematic structure. Furthermore, our results suggested that predictability is an important advantage of systematic structure: participants who learned more structured languages were better at generalizing these languages to new, unfamiliar meanings, and different participants who learned the same more structured languages were more likely to produce similar labels. That is, systematic structure may allow speakers to converge effortlessly, such that strangers can immediately understand each other.
  • Rebuschat, P., Monaghan, P., & Schoetensack, C. (2021). Learning vocabulary and grammar from cross-situational statistics. Cognition, 206: 104475. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104475.

    Abstract

    Across multiple situations, child and adult learners are sensitive to co-occurrences between individual words and their referents in the environment, which provide a means by which the ambiguity of word-world mappings may be resolved (Monaghan & Mattock, 2012; Scott & Fisher, 2012; Smith & Yu, 2008; Yu & Smith, 2007). In three studies, we tested whether cross-situational learning is sufficiently powerful to support simultaneous learning the referents for words from multiple grammatical categories, a more realistic reflection of more complex natural language learning situations. In Experiment 1, adult learners heard sentences comprising nouns, verbs, adjectives, and grammatical markers indicating subject and object roles, and viewed a dynamic scene to which the sentence referred. In Experiments 2 and 3, we further increased the uncertainty of the referents by presenting two scenes alongside each sentence. In all studies, we found that cross-situational statistical learning was sufficiently powerful to facilitate acquisition of both vocabulary and grammar from complex sentence-to-scene correspondences, simulating the situations that more closely resemble the challenge facing the language learner.

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  • Redl, T. (2021). Masculine generic pronouns: Investigating the processing of an unintended gender cue. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Redl, T., Frank, S. L., De Swart, P., & De Hoop, H. (2021). The male bias of a generically-intended masculine pronoun: Evidence from eye-tracking and sentence evaluation. PLoS One, 16(4): e0249309. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0249309.

    Abstract

    Two experiments tested whether the Dutch possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ gives rise to a gender inference and thus causes a male bias when used generically in sentences such as Everyone was putting on his shoes. Experiment 1 (N = 120, 48 male) was a conceptual replication of a previous eye-tracking study that had not found evidence of a male bias. The results of the current eye-tracking experiment showed the generically-intended masculine pronoun to trigger a gender inference and cause a male bias, but for male participants and in stereotypically neutral stereotype contexts only. No evidence for a male bias was thus found in stereotypically female and male context nor for female participants altogether. Experiment 2 (N = 80, 40 male) used the same stimuli as Experiment 1, but employed the sentence evaluation paradigm. No evidence of a male bias was found in Experiment 2. Taken together, the results suggest that the generically-intended masculine pronoun zijn ‘his’ can cause a male bias for male participants even when the referents are previously introduced by inclusive and grammatically gender-unmarked iedereen ‘everyone’. This male bias surfaces with eye-tracking, which taps directly into early language processing, but not in offline sentence evaluations. Furthermore, the results suggest that the intended generic reading of the masculine possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ is more readily available for women than for men.

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    data
  • Reifegerste, J., Meyer, A. S., Zwitserlood, P., & Ullman, M. T. (2021). Aging affects steaks more than knives: Evidence that the processing of words related to motor skills is relatively spared in aging. Brain and Language, 218: 104941. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2021.104941.

    Abstract

    Lexical-processing declines are a hallmark of aging. However, the extent of these declines may vary as a function of different factors. Motivated by findings from neurodegenerative diseases and healthy aging, we tested whether ‘motor-relatedness’ (the degree to which words are associated with particular human body movements) might moderate such declines. We investigated this question by examining data from three experiments. The experiments were carried out in different languages (Dutch, German, English) using different tasks (lexical decision, picture naming), and probed verbs and nouns, in all cases controlling for potentially confounding variables (e.g., frequency, age-of-acquisition, imageability). Whereas ‘non-motor words’ (e.g., steak) showed age-related performance decreases in all three experiments, ‘motor words’ (e.g., knife) yielded either smaller decreases (in one experiment) or no decreases (in two experiments). The findings suggest that motor-relatedness can attenuate or even prevent age-related lexical declines, perhaps due to the relative sparing of neural circuitry underlying such words.

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  • de Reus, K., Soma, M., Anichini, M., Gamba, M., de Heer Kloots, M., Lense, M., Bruno, J. H., Trainor, L., & Ravignani, A. (2021). Rhythm in dyadic interactions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 376: 20200337. doi:10.1098/rstb.2020.0337.

    Abstract

    This review paper discusses rhythmic dyadic interactions in social and sexual contexts. We report rhythmic interactions during communication within dyads, as found in humans, non-human primates, non-primate mammals, birds, anurans and insects. Based on the patterns observed, we infer adaptive explanations for the observed rhythm interactions and identify knowledge gaps. Across species, the social environment during ontogeny is a key factor in shaping adult signal repertoires and timing mechanisms used to regulate interactions. The degree of temporal coordination is influenced by the dynamic and strength of the dyadic interaction. Most studies of temporal structure in interactive signals mainly focus on one modality (acoustic and visual); we suggest more work should be performed on multimodal signals. Multidisciplinary approaches combining cognitive science, ethology and ecology should shed more light on the exact timing mechanisms involved. Taken together, rhythmic signalling behaviours are widespread and critical in regulating social interactions across taxa.
  • Rhie, A., McCarthy, S. A., Fedrigo, O., Damas, J., Formenti, G., Koren, S., Uliano-Silva, M., Chow, W., Fungtammasan, A., Kim, J., Lee, C., Ko, B. J., Chaisson, M., Gedman, G. L., Cantin, L. J., Thibaud-Nissen, F., Haggerty, L., Bista, I., Smith, M., Haase, B. and 107 moreRhie, A., McCarthy, S. A., Fedrigo, O., Damas, J., Formenti, G., Koren, S., Uliano-Silva, M., Chow, W., Fungtammasan, A., Kim, J., Lee, C., Ko, B. J., Chaisson, M., Gedman, G. L., Cantin, L. J., Thibaud-Nissen, F., Haggerty, L., Bista, I., Smith, M., Haase, B., Mountcastle, J., Winkler, S., Paez, S., Howard, J., Vernes, S. C., Lama, T. M., Grutzner, F., Warren, W. C., Balakrishnan, C. N., Burt, D., George, J. M., Biegler, M. T., Iorns, D., Digby, A., Eason, D., Robertson, B., Edwards, T., Wilkinson, M., Turner, G., Meyer, A., Kautt, A. F., Franchini, P., Detrich, H. W., Svardal, H., Wagner, M., Naylor, G. J. P., Pippel, M., Malinsky, M., Mooney, M., Simbirsky, M., Hannigan, B. T., Pesout, T., Houck, M., Misuraca, A., Kingan, S. B., Hall, R., Kronenberg, Z., Sović, I., Dunn, C., Ning, Z., Hastie, A., Lee, J., Selvaraj, S., Green, R. E., Putnam, N. H., Gut, I., Ghurye, J., Garrison, E., Sims, Y., Collins, J., Pelan, S., Torrance, J., Tracey, A., Wood, J., Dagnew, R. E., Guan, D., London, S. E., Clayton, D. F., Mello, C. V., Friedrich, S. R., Lovell, P. V., Osipova, E., Al-Ajli, F. O., Secomandi, S., Kim, H., Theofanopoulou, C., Hiller, M., Zhou, Y., Harris, R. S., Makova, K. D., Medvedev, P., Hoffman, J., Masterson, P., Clark, K., Martin, F., Howe, K., Flicek, P., Walenz, B. P., Kwak, W., Clawson, H., Diekhans, M., Nassar, L., Paten, B., Kraus, R. H. S., Crawford, A. J., Gilbert, M. T. P., Zhang, G., Venkatesh, B., Murphy, R. W., Koepfli, K.-P., Shapiro, B., Johnson, W. E., Di Palma, F., Marques-Bonet, T., Teeling, E. C., Warnow, T., Graves, J. M., Ryder, O. A., Haussler, D., O’Brien, S. J., Korlach, J., Lewin, H. A., Howe, K., Myers, E. W., Durbin, R., Phillippy, A. M., & Jarvis, E. D. (2021). Towards complete and error-free genome assemblies of all vertebrate species. Nature, 592, 737-746. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03451-0.

    Abstract

    High-quality and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for the application of genomics to biology, disease, and biodiversity conservation. However, such assemblies are available for only a few non-microbial species1,2,3,4. To address this issue, the international Genome 10K (G10K) consortium5,6 has worked over a five-year period to evaluate and develop cost-effective methods for assembling highly accurate and nearly complete reference genomes. Here we present lessons learned from generating assemblies for 16 species that represent six major vertebrate lineages. We confirm that long-read sequencing technologies are essential for maximizing genome quality, and that unresolved complex repeats and haplotype heterozygosity are major sources of assembly error when not handled correctly. Our assemblies correct substantial errors, add missing sequence in some of the best historical reference genomes, and reveal biological discoveries. These include the identification of many false gene duplications, increases in gene sizes, chromosome rearrangements that are specific to lineages, a repeated independent chromosome breakpoint in bat genomes, and a canonical GC-rich pattern in protein-coding genes and their regulatory regions. Adopting these lessons, we have embarked on the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP), an international effort to generate high-quality, complete reference genomes for all of the roughly 70,000 extant vertebrate species and to help to enable a new era of discovery across the life sciences.
  • Rodd, J., Decuyper, C., Bosker, H. R., & Ten Bosch, L. (2021). A tool for efficient and accurate segmentation of speech data: Announcing POnSS. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 744-756. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01449-6.

    Abstract

    Despite advances in automatic speech recognition (ASR), human input is still essential to produce research-grade segmentations of speech data. Con- ventional approaches to manual segmentation are very labour-intensive. We introduce POnSS, a browser-based system that is specialized for the task of segmenting the onsets and offsets of words, that combines aspects of ASR with limited human input. In developing POnSS, we identified several sub- tasks of segmentation, and implemented each of these as separate interfaces for the annotators to interact with, to streamline their task as much as possible. We evaluated segmentations made with POnSS against a base- line of segmentations of the same data made conventionally in Praat. We observed that POnSS achieved comparable reliability to segmentation us- ing Praat, but required 23% less annotator time investment. Because of its greater efficiency without sacrificing reliability, POnSS represents a distinct methodological advance for the segmentation of speech data.
  • Rojas-Berscia, L. M., Lehecka, T., Claassen, S. A., Peute, A. A. K., Escobedo, M. P., Escobedo, S. P., Tangoa, A. H., & Pizango, E. Y. (2021). Embedding in Shawi narrations: A quantitative analysis of embedding in a post-colonial Amazonian indigenous society. Language in Society. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0047404521000634.

    Abstract

    In this article, we provide the first quantitative account of the frequent use of embedding in Shawi, a Kawapanan language spoken in Peruvian Northwestern Amazonia. We collected a corpus of ninety-two Frog Stories (Mayer 1969) from three different field sites in 2015 and 2016. Using the glossed corpus as our data, we conducted a generalised mixed model analysis, where we predicted the use of embedding with several macrosocial variables, such as gender, age, and education level. We show that bilingualism (Amazonian Spanish-Shawi) and education, mostly restricted by complex gender differences in Shawi communities, play a significant role in the establishment of linguistic preferences in narration. Moreover, we argue that the use of embedding reflects the impact of the mestizo1 society from the nineteenth century until today in Santa Maria de Cahuapanas, reshaping not only Shawi demographics but also linguistic practices
  • Rossi, G., & Stivers, T. (2021). Category-sensitive actions in interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 84(1), 49-74. doi:10.1177/0190272520944595.

    Abstract

    This article is concerned with how social categories (e.g., wife, mother, sister, tenant, guest) become visible through the actions that individuals perform in social interaction. Using audio and video recordings of social interaction as data and conversation analysis as a method, we examine how individuals display their rights or constraints to perform certain actions by virtue of occupying a certain social category. We refer to actions whose performance is sensitive to membership in a certain social category as category-sensitive actions. Most of the time, the social boundaries surrounding these actions remain invisible because participants in interaction typically act in ways that are consistent with their social status and roles. In this study, however, we specifically examine instances where category boundaries become visible as participants approach, expose, or transgress them. Our focus is on actions with relatively stringent category sensitivity such as requests, offers, invitations, or handling one’s possessions. Ultimately, we believe these are the tip of an iceberg that potentially includes most, if not all, actions.
  • Rossi, G. (2021). Conversation analysis (CA). In J. Stanlaw (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781118786093.iela0080.

    Abstract

    Conversation analysis (CA) is an approach to the study of language and social interaction that puts at center stage its sequential development. The chain of initiating and responding actions that characterizes any interaction is a source of internal evidence for the meaning of social behavior as it exposes the understandings that participants themselves give of what one another is doing. Such an analysis requires the close and repeated inspection of audio and video recordings of naturally occurring interaction, supported by transcripts and other forms of annotation. Distributional regularities are complemented by a demonstration of participants' orientation to deviant behavior. CA has long maintained a constructive dialogue and reciprocal influence with linguistic anthropology. This includes a recent convergence on the cross-linguistic and cross-cultural study of social interaction.
  • De Rue, N. P. W. D., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2021). Contrast and conflict in Dutch vowels. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15: 629648. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.629648.

    Abstract

    The nature of phonological representations has been extensively studied in phonology and psycholinguistics. While full specification is still the norm in psycholinguistic research, underspecified representations may better account for perceptual asymmetries. In this paper, we report on a mismatch negativity (MMN) study with Dutch listeners who took part in a passive oddball paradigm to investigate when the brain notices the difference between expected and observed vowels. In particular, we tested neural discrimination (indicating perceptual discrimination) of the tense mid vowel pairs /o/-/ø/ (place contrast), /e/-/ø/ (labiality or rounding contrast), and /e/-/o/ (place and labiality contrast). Our results show (a) a perceptual asymmetry for place in the /o/-/ø/ contrast, supporting underspecification of [CORONAL] and replicating earlier results for German, and (b) a perceptual asymmetry for labiality for the /e/-/ø/ contrast, which was not reported in the German study. A labial deviant [ø] (standard /e/) yielded a larger MMN than a deviant [e] (standard /ø/). No asymmetry was found for the two-feature contrast. This study partly replicates a similar MMN study on German vowels, and partly presents new findings indicating cross-linguistic differences. Although the vowel inventory of Dutch and German is to a large extent comparable, their (morpho)phonological systems are different, which is reflected in processing.

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  • Ruggeri, K., Većkalov, B., Bojanić, L., Andersen, T. L., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Ayacaxli, N., Barea-Arroyo, P., Berge, M. L., Bjørndal, L. D., Bursalıoğlu, A., Bühler, V., Čadek, M., Çetinçelik, M., Clay, G., Cortijos-Bernabeu, A., Damnjanović, K., Dugue, T. M., Esberg, M., Esteban-Serna, C., Felder, E. N. and 63 moreRuggeri, K., Većkalov, B., Bojanić, L., Andersen, T. L., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Ayacaxli, N., Barea-Arroyo, P., Berge, M. L., Bjørndal, L. D., Bursalıoğlu, A., Bühler, V., Čadek, M., Çetinçelik, M., Clay, G., Cortijos-Bernabeu, A., Damnjanović, K., Dugue, T. M., Esberg, M., Esteban-Serna, C., Felder, E. N., Friedemann, M., Frontera-Villanueva, D. I., Gale, P., Garcia-Garzon, E., Geiger, S. J., George, L., Girardello, A., Gracheva, A., Gracheva, A., Guillory, M., Hecht, M., Herte, K., Hubená, B., Ingalls, W., Jakob, L., Janssens, M., Jarke, H., Kácha, O., Kalinova, K. N., Karakasheva, R., Khorrami, P. R., Lep, Ž., Lins, S., Lofthus, I. S., Mamede, S., Mareva, S., Mascarenhas, M. F., McGill, L., Morales-Izquierdo, S., Moltrecht, B., Mueller, T. S., Musetti, M., Nelsson, J., Otto, T., Paul, A. F., Pavlović, I., Petrović, M. B., Popović, D., Prinz, G. M., Razum, J., Sakelariev, I., Samuels, V., Sanguino, I., Say, N., Schuck, J., Soysal, I., Todsen, A. L., Tünte, M. R., Vdovic, M., Vintr, J., Vovko, M., Vranka, M. A., Wagner, L., Wilkins, L., Willems, M., Wisdom, E., Yosifova, A., Zeng, S., Ahmed, M. A., Dwarkanath, T., Cikara, M., Lees, J., & Folke, T. (2021). The general fault in our fault lines. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 1369-1380. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01092-x.

    Abstract

    Pervading global narratives suggest that political polarization is increasing, yet the accuracy of such group meta-perceptions has been drawn into question. A recent US study suggests that these beliefs are inaccurate and drive polarized beliefs about out-groups. However, it also found that informing people of inaccuracies reduces those negative beliefs. In this work, we explore whether these results generalize to other countries. To achieve this, we replicate two of the original experiments with 10,207 participants across 26 countries. We focus on local group divisions, which we refer to as fault lines. We find broad generalizability for both inaccurate meta-perceptions and reduced negative motive attribution through a simple disclosure intervention. We conclude that inaccurate and negative group meta-perceptions are exhibited in myriad contexts and that informing individuals of their misperceptions can yield positive benefits for intergroup relations. Such generalizability highlights a robust phenomenon with implications for political discourse worldwide.

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  • San Jose, A., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Modeling the distributional dynamics of attention and semantic interference in word production. Cognition, 211: 104636. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104636.

    Abstract

    In recent years, it has become clear that attention plays an important role in spoken word production. Some of this evidence comes from distributional analyses of reaction time (RT) in regular picture naming and picture-word interference. Yet we lack a mechanistic account of how the properties of RT distributions come to reflect attentional processes and how these processes may in turn modulate the amount of conflict between lexical representations. Here, we present a computational account according to which attentional lapses allow for existing conflict to build up unsupervised on a subset of trials, thus modulating the shape of the resulting RT distribution. Our process model resolves discrepancies between outcomes of previous studies on semantic interference. Moreover, the model's predictions were confirmed in a new experiment where participants' motivation to remain attentive determined the size and distributional locus of semantic interference in picture naming. We conclude that process modeling of RT distributions importantly improves our understanding of the interplay between attention and conflict in word production. Our model thus provides a framework for interpreting distributional analyses of RT data in picture naming tasks.
  • Santin, M., Van Hout, A., & Flecken, M. (2021). Event endings in memory and language. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(5), 625-648. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1868542.

    Abstract

    Memory is fundamental for comprehending and segmenting the flow of activity around us into units called “events”. Here, we investigate the effect of the movement dynamics of actions (ceased, ongoing) and the inner structure of events (with or without object-state change) on people's event memory. Furthermore, we investigate how describing events, and the meaning and form of verb predicates used (denoting a culmination moment, or not, in single verbs or verb-satellite constructions), affects event memory. Before taking a surprise recognition task, Spanish and Mandarin speakers (who lexicalise culmination in different verb predicate forms) watched short videos of events, either in a non-verbal (probe-recognition) or a verbal experiment (event description). Results show that culminated events (i.e. ceased change-of-state events) were remembered best across experiments. Language use showed to enhance memory overall. Further, the form of the verb predicates used for denoting culmination had a moderate effect on memory.
  • Sauppe, S., & Flecken, M. (2021). Speaking for seeing: Sentence structure guides visual event apprehension. Cognition, 206: 104516. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104516.

    Abstract

    Human experience and communication are centred on events, and event apprehension is a rapid process that draws on the visual perception and immediate categorization of event roles (“who does what to whom”). We demonstrate a role for syntactic structure in visual information uptake for event apprehension. An event structure foregrounding either the agent or patient was activated during speaking, transiently modulating the apprehension of subsequently viewed unrelated events. Speakers of Dutch described pictures with actives and passives (agent and patient foregrounding, respectively). First fixations on pictures of unrelated events that were briefly presented (for 300 ms) next were influenced by the active or passive structure of the previously produced sentence. Going beyond the study of how single words cue object perception, we show that sentence structure guides the viewpoint taken during rapid event apprehension.

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  • Scala, M., Anijs, M., Battini, R., Madia, F., Capra, V., Scudieri, P., Verrotti, A., Zara, F., Minetti, C., Vernes, S. C., & Striano, P. (2021). Hyperkinetic stereotyped movements in a boy with biallelic CNTNAP2 variants. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 47: 208. doi:10.1186/s13052-021-01162-w.

    Abstract

    Background Heterozygous variants in CNTNAP2 have been implicated in a wide range of neurological phenotypes, including intellectual disability (ID), epilepsy, autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), and impaired language. However, heterozygous variants can also be found in unaffected individuals. Biallelic CNTNAP2 variants are rarer and cause a well-defined genetic syndrome known as CASPR2 deficiency disorder, a condition characterised by ID, early-onset refractory epilepsy, language impairment, and autistic features. Case-report A 7-year-old boy presented with hyperkinetic stereotyped movements that started during early infancy and persisted over childhood. Abnormal movements consisted of rhythmic and repetitive shaking of the four limbs, with evident stereotypic features. Additional clinical features included ID, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), ASD, and speech impairment, consistent with CASPR2 deficiency disorder. Whole-genome array comparative genomic hybridization detected a maternally inherited 0.402 Mb duplication, which involved intron 1, exon 2, and intron 2 of CNTNAP2 (c.97 +?_209-?dup). The affected region in intron 1 contains a binding site for the transcription factor FOXP2, potentially leading to abnormal CNTNAP2 expression regulation. Sanger sequencing of the coding region of CNTNAP2 also identified a paternally-inherited missense variant c.2752C > T, p.(Leu918Phe). Conclusion This case expands the molecular and phenotypic spectrum of CASPR2 deficiency disorder, suggesting that Hyperkinetic stereotyped movements may be a rare, yet significant, clinical feature of this complex neurological disorder. Furthermore, the identification of an in-frame, largely non-coding duplication in CNTNAP2 points to a sophisticated underlying molecular mechanism, likely involving impaired FOXP2 binding.

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  • Schilberg, L., Ten Oever, S., Schuhmann, T., & Sack, A. T. (2021). Phase and power modulations on the amplitude of TMS-induced motor evoked potentials. PLoS One, 16(9): e0255815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0255815.

    Abstract

    The evaluation of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-induced motor evoked potentials (MEPs) promises valuable information about fundamental brain related mechanisms and may serve as a diagnostic tool for clinical monitoring of therapeutic progress or surgery procedures. However, reports about spontaneous fluctuations of MEP amplitudes causing high intra-individual variability have led to increased concerns about the reliability of this measure. One possible cause for high variability of MEPs could be neuronal oscillatory activity, which reflects fluctuations of membrane potentials that systematically increase and decrease the excitability of neuronal networks. Here, we investigate the dependence of MEP amplitude on oscillation power and phase by combining the application of single pulse TMS over the primary motor cortex with concurrent recordings of electromyography and electroencephalography. Our results show that MEP amplitude is correlated to alpha phase, alpha power as well as beta phase. These findings may help explain corticospinal excitability fluctuations by highlighting the modulatory effect of alpha and beta phase on MEPs. In the future, controlling for such a causal relationship may allow for the development of new protocols, improve this method as a (diagnostic) tool and increase the specificity and efficacy of general TMS applications.

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    data and supporting information
  • Schubotz, L. (2021). Effects of aging and cognitive abilities on multimodal language production and comprehension in context. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Schubotz, L., Holler, J., Drijvers, L., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). Aging and working memory modulate the ability to benefit from visible speech and iconic gestures during speech-in-noise comprehension. Psychological Research, 85, 1997-2011. doi:10.1007/s00426-020-01363-8.

    Abstract

    When comprehending speech-in-noise (SiN), younger and older adults benefit from seeing the speaker’s mouth, i.e. visible speech. Younger adults additionally benefit from manual iconic co-speech gestures. Here, we investigate to what extent younger and older adults benefit from perceiving both visual articulators while comprehending SiN, and whether this is modulated by working memory and inhibitory control. Twenty-eight younger and 28 older adults performed a word recognition task in three visual contexts: mouth blurred (speech-only), visible speech, or visible speech + iconic gesture. The speech signal was either clear or embedded in multitalker babble. Additionally, there were two visual-only conditions (visible speech, visible speech + gesture). Accuracy levels for both age groups were higher when both visual articulators were present compared to either one or none. However, older adults received a significantly smaller benefit than younger adults, although they performed equally well in speech-only and visual-only word recognition. Individual differences in verbal working memory and inhibitory control partly accounted for age-related performance differences. To conclude, perceiving iconic gestures in addition to visible speech improves younger and older adults’ comprehension of SiN. Yet, the ability to benefit from this additional visual information is modulated by age and verbal working memory. Future research will have to show whether these findings extend beyond the single word level.

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  • Seijdel, N., Loke, J., Van de Klundert, R., Van der Meer, M., Quispel, E., Van Gaal, S., De Haan, E. H., & Scholte, H. S. (2021). On the necessity of recurrent processing during object recognition: It depends on the need for scene segmentation. Journal of Neuroscience, 41(29), 6281-6289. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2851-20.2021.

    Abstract

    Although feedforward activity may suffice for recognizing objects in isolation, additional visual operations that aid object recognition might be needed for real-world scenes. One such additional operation is figure-ground segmentation, extracting the relevant features and locations of the target object while ignoring irrelevant features. In this study of 60 human participants (female and male), we show objects on backgrounds of increasing complexity to investigate whether recurrent computations are increasingly important for segmenting objects from more complex backgrounds. Three lines of evidence show that recurrent processing is critical for recognition of objects embedded in complex scenes. First, behavioral results indicated a greater reduction in performance after masking objects presented on more complex backgrounds, with the degree of impairment increasing with increasing background complexity. Second, electroencephalography (EEG) measurements showed clear differences in the evoked response potentials between conditions around time points beyond feedforward activity, and exploratory object decoding analyses based on the EEG signal indicated later decoding onsets for objects embedded in more complex backgrounds. Third, deep convolutional neural network performance confirmed this interpretation. Feedforward and less deep networks showed a higher degree of impairment in recognition for objects in complex backgrounds compared with recurrent and deeper networks. Together, these results support the notion that recurrent computations drive figure-ground segmentation of objects in complex scenes.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The incredible speed of object recognition suggests that it relies purely on a fast feedforward buildup of perceptual activity. However, this view is contradicted by studies showing that disruption of recurrent processing leads to decreased object recognition performance. Here, we resolve this issue by showing that how object recognition is resolved and whether recurrent processing is crucial depends on the context in which it is presented. For objects presented in isolation or in simple environments, feedforward activity could be sufficient for successful object recognition. However, when the environment is more complex, additional processing seems necessary to select the elements that belong to the object and by that segregate them from the background.
  • Seijdel, N., Scholte, H. S., & de Haan, E. H. (2021). Visual features drive the category-specific impairments on categorization tasks in a patient with object agnosia. Neuropsychologia, 161: 108017. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.108017.

    Abstract

    Object and scene recognition both require mapping of incoming sensory information to existing conceptual knowledge about the world. A notable finding in brain-damaged patients is that they may show differentially impaired performance for specific categories, such as for “living exemplars”. While numerous patients with category-specific impairments have been reported, the explanations for these deficits remain controversial. In the current study, we investigate the ability of a brain injured patient with a well-established category-specific impairment of semantic memory to perform two categorization experiments: ‘natural’ vs. ‘manmade’ scenes (experiment 1) and objects (experiment 2). Our findings show that the pattern of categorical impairment does not respect the natural versus manmade distinction. This suggests that the impairments may be better explained by differences in visual features, rather than by category membership. Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs) as ‘artificial animal models’ we further explored this idea. Results indicated that DCNNs with ‘lesions’ in higher order layers showed similar response patterns, with decreased relative performance for manmade scenes (experiment 1) and natural objects (experiment 2), even though they have no semantic category knowledge, apart from a mapping between pictures and labels. Collectively, these results suggest that the direction of category-effects to a large extent depends, at least in MS′ case, on the degree of perceptual differentiation called for, and not semantic knowledge.

    Additional information

    data and code
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (2021). Essentials of semantic syntax: An appetiser. Cadernos de Linguística, 2(1). doi:10.25189/2675-4916.2021.v2.n1.id290.

    Abstract

    Semantic Syntax (SeSyn), originally called Generative Semantics, is an offshoot of Chomskyan generative grammar (ChoGG), rejected by Chomsky and his school in the late 1960s. SeSyn is the theory of algorithmical grammars producing the well-formed sentences of a language L from the corresponding semantic input, the Semantic Analysis (SA), represented as a traditional tree structure diagram in a specific formal language of incremental predicate logic with quantifying and qualifying operators (including the truth functions), and with all lexical items filled in. A SeSyn-type grammar is thus by definition transformational, but not generative. The SA originates in cognition in a manner that is still largely mysterious, but its actual form can be distilled from the Surface Structure (SS) of the sentences of L following the principles set out in SeSyn. In this presentation we provide a more or less technical résumé of the SeSyn theory. A comparison is made with ChoGG-type grammars, which are rejected on account of their intrinsic unsuitability as a cognitive-realist grammar model. The ChoGG model follows the pattern of a 1930s neopositivist Carnap-type grammar for formal logical languages. Such grammars are random sentence generators, whereas, obviously, (nonpathological) humans are not. A ChoGG-type grammar is fundamentally irreconcilable with a mentalist-realist theory of grammar. The body of the paper consists in a demonstration of the production of an English and a French sentence, the latter containing a classic instance of the cyclic rule of Predicate Raising (PR), essential in the general theory of clausal complementation yet steadfastly repudiated in ChoGG for reasons that have never been clarified. The processes and categories defined in SeSyn are effortlessly recognised in languages all over the world, whether indigenous or languages of a dominant culture—taking into account language-specific values for the general theoretical parameters involved. This property makes SeSyn particularly relevant for linguistic typology, which now ranks as the most promising branch of linguistics but has so far conspicuously lacked an adequate theoretical basis.
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (2021). Saving the square of opposition. History and Philosophy of Logic, 42(1), 72-96. doi:10.1080/01445340.2020.1865782.

    Abstract

    Contrary to received opinion, the Aristotelian Square of Opposition (square) is logically sound, differing from standard modern predicate logic (SMPL) only in that it restricts the universe U of cognitively constructible situations by banning null predicates, making it less unnatural than SMPL. U-restriction strengthens the logic without making it unsound. It also invites a cognitive approach to logic. Humans are endowed with a cognitive predicate logic (CPL), which checks the process of cognitive modelling (world construal) for consistency. The square is considered a first approximation to CPL, with a cognitive set-theoretic semantics. Not being cognitively real, the null set Ø is eliminated from the semantics of CPL. Still rudimentary in Aristotle’s On Interpretation (Int), the square was implicitly completed in his Prior Analytics (PrAn), thereby introducing U-restriction. Abelard’s reconstruction of the logic of Int is logically and historically correct; the loca (Leaking O-Corner Analysis) interpretation of the square, defended by some modern logicians, is logically faulty and historically untenable. Generally, U-restriction, not redefining the universal quantifier, as in Abelard and loca, is the correct path to a reconstruction of CPL. Valuation Space modelling is used to compute the effects of U-restriction.
  • Severijnen, G. G. A., Bosker, H. R., Piai, V., & McQueen, J. M. (2021). Listeners track talker-specific prosody to deal with talker-variability. Brain Research, 1769: 147605. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2021.147605.

    Abstract

    One of the challenges in speech perception is that listeners must deal with considerable segmental and suprasegmental variability in the acoustic signal due to differences between talkers. Most previous studies have focused on how listeners deal with segmental variability. In this EEG experiment, we investigated whether listeners track talker-specific usage of suprasegmental cues to lexical stress to recognize spoken words correctly. In a three-day training phase, Dutch participants learned to map non-word minimal stress pairs onto different object referents (e.g., USklot meant “lamp”; usKLOT meant “train”). These non-words were produced by two male talkers. Critically, each talker used only one suprasegmental cue to signal stress (e.g., Talker A used only F0 and Talker B only intensity). We expected participants to learn which talker used which cue to signal stress. In the test phase, participants indicated whether spoken sentences including these non-words were correct (“The word for lamp is…”). We found that participants were slower to indicate that a stimulus was correct if the non-word was produced with the unexpected cue (e.g., Talker A using intensity). That is, if in training Talker A used F0 to signal stress, participants experienced a mismatch between predicted and perceived phonological word-forms if, at test, Talker A unexpectedly used intensity to cue stress. In contrast, the N200 amplitude, an event-related potential related to phonological prediction, was not modulated by the cue mismatch. Theoretical implications of these contrasting results are discussed. The behavioral findings illustrate talker-specific prediction of prosodic cues, picked up through perceptual learning during training.
  • Sha, Z., Schijven, D., & Francks, C. (2021). Patterns of brain asymmetry associated with polygenic risks for autism and schizophrenia implicate language and executive functions but not brain masculinization. Molecular Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/s41380-021-01204-z.

    Abstract

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia have been conceived as partly opposing disorders in terms of systemizing versus empathizing cognitive styles, with resemblances to male versus female average sex differences. Left-right asymmetry of the brain is an important aspect of its organization that shows average differences between the sexes, and can be altered in both ASD and schizophrenia. Here we mapped multivariate associations of polygenic risk scores for ASD and schizophrenia with asymmetries of regional cerebral cortical surface area, thickness and subcortical volume measures in 32,256 participants from the UK Biobank. Polygenic risks for the two disorders were positively correlated (r=0.08, p=7.13×10-50), and both were higher in females compared to males, consistent with biased participation against higher-risk males. Each polygenic risk score was associated with multivariate brain asymmetry after adjusting for sex, ASD r=0.03, p=2.17×10-9, schizophrenia r=0.04, p=2.61×10-11, but the multivariate patterns were mostly distinct for the two polygenic risks, and neither resembled average sex differences. Annotation based on meta-analyzed functional imaging data showed that both polygenic risks were associated with asymmetries of regions important for language and executive functions, consistent with behavioural associations that arose in phenome-wide association analysis. Overall, the results indicate that distinct patterns of subtly altered brain asymmetry may be functionally relevant manifestations of polygenic risks for ASD and schizophrenia, but do not support brain masculinization or feminization in their etiologies.
  • Sha, Z., Schijven, D., Carrion Castillo, A., Joliot, M., Mazoyer, B., Fisher, S. E., Crivello, F., & Francks, C. (2021). The genetic architecture of structural left–right asymmetry of the human brain. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 1226-1236. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01069-w.

    Abstract

    Left–right hemispheric asymmetry is an important aspect of healthy brain organization for many functions including language, and it can be altered in cognitive and psychiatric disorders. No mechanism has yet been identified for establishing the human brain’s left–right axis. We performed multivariate genome-wide association scanning of cortical regional surface area and thickness asymmetries, and subcortical volume asymmetries, using data from 32,256 participants from the UK Biobank. There were 21 significant loci associated with different aspects of brain asymmetry, with functional enrichment involving microtubule-related genes and embryonic brain expression. These findings are consistent with a known role of the cytoskeleton in left–right axis determination in other organs of invertebrates and frogs. Genetic variants associated with brain asymmetry overlapped with those associated with autism, educational attainment and schizophrenia. Comparably large datasets will likely be required in future studies, to replicate and further clarify the associations of microtubule-related genes with variation in brain asymmetry, behavioural and psychiatric traits.
  • Sha, Z., Pepe, A., Schijven, D., Carrion Castillo, A., Roe, J. M., Westerhausen, R., Joliot, M., Fisher, S. E., Crivello, F., & Francks, C. (2021). Handedness and its genetic influences are associated with structural asymmetries of the cerebral cortex in 31,864 individuals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(47): e2113095118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2113095118.

    Abstract

    Roughly 10% of the human population is left-handed, and this rate is increased in some brain-related disorders. The neuroanatomical correlates of hand preference have remained equivocal. We resampled structural brain image data from 28,802 right-handers and 3,062 left-handers (UK Biobank population dataset) to a symmetrical surface template, and mapped asymmetries for each of 8,681 vertices across the cerebral cortex in each individual. Left-handers compared to right-handers showed average differences of surface area asymmetry within the fusiform cortex, the anterior insula, the anterior middle cingulate cortex, and the precentral cortex. Meta-analyzed functional imaging data implicated these regions in executive functions and language. Polygenic disposition to left-handedness was associated with two of these regional asymmetries, and 18 loci previously linked with left-handedness by genome-wide screening showed associations with one or more of these asymmetries. Implicated genes included six encoding microtubule-related proteins: TUBB, TUBA1B, TUBB3, TUBB4A, MAP2, and NME7—mutations in the latter can cause left to right reversal of the visceral organs. There were also two cortical regions where average thickness asymmetry was altered in left-handedness: on the postcentral gyrus and the inferior occipital cortex, functionally annotated with hand sensorimotor and visual roles. These cortical thickness asymmetries were not heritable. Heritable surface area asymmetries of language-related regions may link the etiologies of hand preference and language, whereas nonheritable asymmetries of sensorimotor cortex may manifest as consequences of hand preference.
  • Shapland, C. Y., Verhoef, E., Smith, G. D., Fisher, S. E., Verhulst, B., Dale, P. S., & St Pourcain, B. (2021). Multivariate genome-wide covariance analyses of literacy, language and working memory skills reveal distinct etiologies. npj Science of Learning, 6: 23. doi:10.1038/s41539-021-00101-y.

    Abstract

    Several abilities outside literacy proper are associated with reading and spelling, both phenotypically and genetically, though our knowledge of multivariate genomic covariance structures is incomplete. Here, we introduce structural models describing genetic and residual influences between traits to study multivariate links across measures of literacy, phonological awareness, oral language, and phonological working memory (PWM) in unrelated UK youth (8-13 years, N=6,453). We find that all phenotypes share a large proportion of underlying genetic variation, although especially oral language and PWM reveal substantial differences in their genetic variance composition with substantial trait-specific genetic influences. Multivariate genetic and residual trait covariance showed concordant patterns, except for marked differences between oral language and literacy/phonological awareness, where strong genetic links contrasted near-zero residual overlap. These findings suggest differences in etiological mechanisms, acting beyond a pleiotropic set of genetic variants, and implicate variation in trait modifiability even among phenotypes that have high genetic correlations.

    Additional information

    supplementary information
  • Shkaravska, O., & Van Eekelen, M. (2021). Polynomial solutions of algebraic difference equations and homogeneous symmetric polynomials. Journal of Symbolic Computation, 103, 22-45. doi:10.1016/j.jsc.2019.10.022.

    Abstract

    This article addresses the problem of computing an upper bound of the degree d of a polynomial solution P(x) of an algebraic differ- ence equation of the form Gx)(P(x −τ1), . . . , P(x −τs) + G0(x) = 0 when such P(x) with the coefficients in a field K of character- istic zero exists and where G is a non-linear s-variable polynomial with coefficients in K[x] and G0 is a polynomial with coefficients in K. It will be shown that if G is a quadratic polynomial with constant coefficients then one can construct a countable family of polynomi- als fl(u0) such that if there exists a (minimal) index l0 with fl0(u0) being a non-zero polynomial, then the degree d is one of its roots or d ≤ l0, or d < deg(G0). Moreover, the existence of such l0 will be proven for K being the field of real numbers. These results are based on the properties of the modules generated by special fami- lies of homogeneous symmetric polynomials. A sufficient condition for the existence of a similar bound of the degree of a polynomial solution for an algebraic difference equation with G of arbitrary total degree and with variable coefficients will be proven as well.
  • Slivac, K., Hervais-Adelman, A., Hagoort, P., & Flecken, M. (2021). Linguistic labels cue biological motion perception and misperception. Scientific Reports, 11: 17239. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-96649-1.

    Abstract

    Linguistic labels exert a particularly strong top-down influence on perception. The potency of this influence has been ascribed to their ability to evoke category-diagnostic features of concepts. In doing this, they facilitate the formation of a perceptual template concordant with those features, effectively biasing perceptual activation towards the labelled category. In this study, we employ a cueing paradigm with moving, point-light stimuli across three experiments, in order to examine how the number of biological motion features (form and kinematics) encoded in lexical cues modulates the efficacy of lexical top-down influence on perception. We find that the magnitude of lexical influence on biological motion perception rises as a function of the number of biological motion-relevant features carried by both cue and target. When lexical cues encode multiple biological motion features, this influence is robust enough to mislead participants into reporting erroneous percepts, even when a masking level yielding high performance is used.
  • Slonimska, A., Ozyurek, A., & Capirci, O. (2021). Using depiction for efficient communication in LIS (Italian Sign Language). Language and Cognition, 13(3), 367 -396. doi:10.1017/langcog.2021.7.

    Abstract

    Meanings communicated with depictions constitute an integral part of how speakers and signers actually use language (Clark, 2016). Recent studies have argued that, in sign languages, depicting strategy like constructed action (CA), in which a signer enacts the referent, is used for referential purposes in narratives. Here, we tested the referential function of CA in a more controlled experimental setting and outside narrative context. Given the iconic properties of CA we hypothesized that this strategy could be used for efficient information transmission. Thus, we asked if use of CA increased with the increase in the information required to be communicated. Twenty-three deaf signers of LIS described unconnected images, which varied in the amount of information represented, to another player in a director–matcher game. Results revealed that participants used CA to communicate core information about the images and also increased the use of CA as images became informatively denser. The findings show that iconic features of CA can be used for referential function in addition to its depictive function outside narrative context and to achieve communicative efficiency.
  • Smeets, C. J. L. M., Ma, K. Y., Fisher, S. E., & Verbeek, D. S. (2021). Cerebellar developmental deficits underlie neurodegenerative disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 23. Brain Pathology, 31(2), 239-252. doi:10.1111/bpa.12905.

    Abstract

    Spinocerebellar ataxia type 23 (SCA23) is a late‐onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by slowly progressive gait and limb ataxia, for which there is no therapy available. It is caused by pathogenic variants in PDYN, which encodes prodynorphin (PDYN). PDYN is processed into the opioid peptides α‐neoendorphin and dynorphins (Dyn) A and B; inhibitory neurotransmitters that function in pain signaling, stress‐induced responses and addiction. Variants causing SCA23 mostly affect Dyn A, leading to loss of secondary structure and increased peptide stability. PDYNR212W mice express human PDYN containing the SCA23 variant p.R212W. These mice show progressive motor deficits from 3 months of age, climbing fiber (CF) deficits from 3 months of age, and Purkinje cell (PC) loss from 12 months of age. A mouse model for SCA1 showed similar CF deficits, and a recent study found additional developmental abnormalities, namely increased GABAergic interneuron connectivity and non‐cell autonomous disruption of PC function. As SCA23 mice show a similar pathology to SCA1 mice in adulthood, we hypothesized that SCA23 may also follow SCA1 pathology during development. Examining PDYNR212W cerebella during development, we uncovered developmental deficits from 2 weeks of age, namely a reduced number of GABAergic synapses on PC soma, possibly leading to the observed delay in early phase CF elimination between 2 and 3 weeks of age. Furthermore, CFs did not reach terminal height, leaving proximal PC dendrites open to be occupied by parallel fibers (PFs). The observed increase in vGlut1 protein—a marker for PF‐PC synapses—indicates that PFs indeed take over CF territory and have increased connectivity with PCs. Additionally, we detected altered expression of several critical Ca2+ channel subunits, potentially contributing to altered Ca2+ transients in PDYNR212W cerebella. These findings indicate that developmental abnormalities contribute to the SCA23 pathology and uncover a developmental role for PDYN in the cerebellum.
  • Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2021). The effect of orthographic systems on the developing reading system: Typological and computational analyses. Psychological Review, 128(1), 125-159. doi:10.1037/rev0000257.

    Abstract

    Orthographic systems vary dramatically in the extent to which they encode a language’s phonological and lexico-semantic structure. Studies of the effects of orthographic transparency suggest that such variation is likely to have major implications for how the reading system operates. However, such studies have been unable to examine in isolation the contributory effect of transparency on reading due to co-varying linguistic or socio-cultural factors. We first investigated the phonological properties of languages using the range of the world’s orthographic systems (alphabetic; alphasyllabic; consonantal; syllabic; logographic), and found that, once geographical proximity is taken into account, phonological properties do not relate to orthographic system. We then explored the processing implications of orthographic variation by training a connectionist implementation of the triangle model of reading on the range of orthographic systems whilst controlling for phonological and semantic structure. We show that the triangle model is effective as a universal model of reading, able to replicate key behavioural and neuroscientific results. Importantly, the model also generates new predictions deriving from an explicit description of the effects of orthographic transparency on how reading is realised and defines the consequences of orthographic systems on reading processes.
  • Snijders Blok, L., Vino, A., Den Hoed, J., Underhill, H. R., Monteil, D., Li, H., Reynoso Santos, F. J., Chung, W. K., Amaral, M. D., Schnur, R. E., Santiago-Sim, T., Si, Y., Brunner, H. G., Kleefstra, T., & Fisher, S. E. (2021). Heterozygous variants that disturb the transcriptional repressor activity of FOXP4 cause a developmental disorder with speech/language delays and multiple congenital abnormalities. Genetics in Medicine, 23, 534-542. doi:10.1038/s41436-020-01016-6.

    Abstract

    Heterozygous pathogenic variants in various FOXP genes cause specific developmental disorders. The phenotype associated with heterozygous variants in FOXP4 has not been previously described. We assembled a cohort of eight individuals with heterozygous and mostly de novo variants in FOXP4: seven individuals with six different missense variants and one individual with a frameshift variant. We collected clinical data to delineate the phenotypic spectrum, and used in silico analyses and functional cell-based assays to assess pathogenicity of the variants. We collected clinical data for six individuals: five individuals with a missense variant in the forkhead box DNA-binding domain of FOXP4, and one individual with a truncating variant. Overlapping features included speech and language delays, growth abnormalities, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, cervical spine abnormalities, and ptosis. Luciferase assays showed loss-of-function effects for all these variants, and aberrant subcellular localization patterns were seen in a subset. The remaining two missense variants were located outside the functional domains of FOXP4, and showed transcriptional repressor capacities and localization patterns similar to the wild-type protein. Collectively, our findings show that heterozygous loss-of-function variants in FOXP4 are associated with an autosomal dominant neurodevelopmental disorder with speech/language delays, growth defects, and variable congenital abnormalities.
  • Snijders Blok, L., Goosen, Y. M., Haaften, L., Hulst, K., Fisher, S. E., Brunner, H. G., Egger, J. I. M., & Kleefstra, T. (2021). Speech‐language profiles in the context of cognitive and adaptive functioning inSATB2‐associated syndrome. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 20(7): e12761. doi:10.1111/gbb.12761.

    Abstract

    SATB2-associated syndrome (SAS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by heterozygous pathogenic variants in the SATB2 gene, and is typically characterized by intellectual disability and severely impaired communication skills. The goal of this study was to contribute to the understanding of speech and language impairments in SAS, in the context of general developmental skills and cognitive and adaptive functioning. We performed detailed oral motor, speech and language profiling in combination with neuropsychological assessments in 23 individuals with a molecularly confirmed SAS diagnosis: 11 primarily verbal individuals and 12 primarily nonverbal individuals, independent of their ages. All individuals had severe receptive language delays. For all verbal individuals, we were able to define underlying speech conditions. While childhood apraxia of speech was most prevalent, oral motor problems appeared frequent as well and were more present in the nonverbal group than in the verbal group. For seven individuals, age-appropriate Wechsler indices could be derived, showing that the level of intellectual functioning of these individuals varied from moderate–mild ID to mild ID-borderline intellectual functioning. Assessments of adaptive functioning with the Vineland Screener showed relatively high scores on the domain “daily functioning” and relatively low scores on the domain “communication” in most individuals. Altogether, this study provides a detailed delineation of oral motor, speech and language skills and neuropsychological functioning in individuals with SAS, and can provide families and caregivers with information to guide diagnosis, management and treatment approaches.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Sønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S. and 84 moreSønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S., Ciufolini, S., Craig, M. C., Crespo‐Facorro, B., Cunningham, A. C., Dale, A. M., Dazzan, P., De Zubicaray, G. I., Djurovic, S., Doherty, J. L., Donohoe, G., Draganski, B., Durdle, C. A., Ehrlich, S., Emanuel, B. S., Espeseth, T., Fisher, S. E., Ge, T., Glahn, D. C., Grabe, H. J., Gur, R. E., Gutman, B. A., Haavik, J., Håberg, A. K., Hansen, L. A., Hashimoto, R., Hibar, D. P., Holmes, A. J., Hottenga, J., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Jalbrzikowski, M., Knowles, E. E. M., Kushan, L., Linden, D. E. J., Liu, J., Lundervold, A. J., Martin‐Brevet, S., Martínez, K., Mather, K. A., Mathias, S. R., McDonald‐McGinn, D. M., McRae, A. F., Medland, S. E., Moberget, T., Modenato, C., Monereo Sánchez, J., Moreau, C. A., Mühleisen, T. W., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Prieto, C., Ragothaman, A., Reinbold, C. S., Reis Marques, T., Repetto, G. M., Reymond, A., Roalf, D. R., Rodriguez‐Herreros, B., Rucker, J. J., Sachdev, P. S., Schmitt, J. E., Schofield, P. R., Silva, A. I., Stefansson, H., Stein, D. J., Tamnes, C. K., Tordesillas‐Gutiérrez, D., Ulfarsson, M. O., Vajdi, A., Van 't Ent, D., Van den Bree, M. B. M., Vassos, E., Vázquez‐Bourgon, J., Vila‐Rodriguez, F., Walters, G. B., Wen, W., Westlye, L. T., Wittfeld, K., Zackai, E. H., Stefánsson, K., Jacquemont, S., Thompson, P. M., Bearden, C. E., Andreassen, O. A., the ENIGMA-CNV Working Group, & the ENIGMA 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Group (2021). Effects of copy number variations on brain structure and risk for psychiatric illness: Large‐scale studies from the ENIGMAworking groups on CNVs. Human Brain Mapping. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/hbm.25354.

    Abstract

    The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis copy number variant (ENIGMA‐CNV) and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Groups (22q‐ENIGMA WGs) were created to gain insight into the involvement of genetic factors in human brain development and related cognitive, psychiatric and behavioral manifestations. To that end, the ENIGMA‐CNV WG has collated CNV and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from ~49,000 individuals across 38 global research sites, yielding one of the largest studies to date on the effects of CNVs on brain structures in the general population. The 22q‐ENIGMA WG includes 12 international research centers that assessed over 533 individuals with a confirmed 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 40 with 22q11.2 duplications, and 333 typically developing controls, creating the largest‐ever 22q11.2 CNV neuroimaging data set. In this review, we outline the ENIGMA infrastructure and procedures for multi‐site analysis of CNVs and MRI data. So far, ENIGMA has identified effects of the 22q11.2, 16p11.2 distal, 15q11.2, and 1q21.1 distal CNVs on subcortical and cortical brain structures. Each CNV is associated with differences in cognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits, with characteristic patterns of brain structural abnormalities. Evidence of gene‐dosage effects on distinct brain regions also emerged, providing further insight into genotype–phenotype relationships. Taken together, these results offer a more comprehensive picture of molecular mechanisms involved in typical and atypical brain development. This “genotype‐first” approach also contributes to our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of brain disorders. Finally, we outline future directions to better understand effects of CNVs on brain structure and behavior.
  • Sønderby, I. E., Van der Meer, D., Moreau, C., Kaufmann, T., Walters, G. B., Ellegaard, M., Abdellaoui, A., Ames, D., Amunts, K., Andersson, M., Armstrong, N. J., Bernard, M., Blackburn, N. B., Blangero, J., Boomsma, D. I., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Bülow, R., Bøen, R., Cahn, W. and 125 moreSønderby, I. E., Van der Meer, D., Moreau, C., Kaufmann, T., Walters, G. B., Ellegaard, M., Abdellaoui, A., Ames, D., Amunts, K., Andersson, M., Armstrong, N. J., Bernard, M., Blackburn, N. B., Blangero, J., Boomsma, D. I., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Bülow, R., Bøen, R., Cahn, W., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Ching, C. R. K., Cichon, S., Ciufolini, S., Crespo-Facorro, B., Curran, J. E., Dale, A. M., Dalvie, S., Dazzan, P., De Geus, E. J. C., De Zubicaray, G. I., De Zwarte, S. M. C., Desrivieres, S., Doherty, J. L., Donohoe, G., Draganski, B., Ehrlich, S., Eising, E., Espeseth, T., Fejgin, K., Fisher, S. E., Fladby, T., Frei, O., Frouin, V., Fukunaga, M., Gareau, T., Ge, T., Glahn, D. C., Grabe, H. J., Groenewold, N. A., Gústafsson, Ó., Haavik, J., Haberg, A. K., Hall, J., Hashimoto, R., Hehir-Kwa, J. Y., Hibar, D. P., Hillegers, M. H. J., Hoffmann, P., Holleran, L., Holmes, A. J., Homuth, G., Hottenga, J.-J., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Ikeda, M., Jahanshad, N., Jockwitz, C., Johansson, S., Jönsson, E. G., Jørgensen, N. R., Kikuchi, M., Knowles, E. E. M., Kumar, K., Le Hellard, S., Leu, C., Linden, D. E., Liu, J., Lundervold, A., Lundervold, A. J., Maillard, A. M., Martin, N. G., Martin-Brevet, S., Mather, K. A., Mathias, S. R., McMahon, K. L., McRae, A. F., Medland, S. E., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Moberget, T., Modenato, C., Monereo Sánchez, J., Morris, D. W., Mühleisen, T. W., Murray, R. M., Nielsen, J., Nordvik, J. E., Nyberg, L., Olde Loohuis, L. M., Ophoff, R. A., Owen, M. J., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Peralta, J. M., Pike, B., Prieto, C., Quinlan, E. B., Reinbold, C. S., Reis Marques, T., Rucker, J. J. H., Sachdev, P. S., Sando, S. B., Schofield, P. R., Schork, A. J., Schumann, G., Shin, J., Shumskaya, E., Silva, A. I., Sisodiya, S. M., Steen, V. M., Stein, D. J., Strike, L. T., Suzuki, I. K., Tamnes, C. K., Teumer, A., Thalamuthu, A., Tordesillas-Gutiérrez, D., Uhlmann, A., Úlfarsson, M. Ö., Van 't Ent, D., Van den Bree, M. B. M., Vanderhaeghen, P., Vassos, E., Wen, W., Wittfeld, K., Wright, M. J., Agartz, I., Djurovic, S., Westlye, L. T., Stefánsson, H., Stefánsson, K., Jacquemont, S., Thompson, P. M., Andreassen, O. A., & the ENIGMA-CNV working group (2021). 1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans. Translational Psychiatry, 11: 182. doi:10.1038/s41398-021-01213-0.

    Abstract

    Low-frequency 1q21.1 distal deletion and duplication copy number variant (CNV) carriers are predisposed to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Human carriers display a high prevalence of micro- and macrocephaly in deletion and duplication carriers, respectively. The underlying brain structural diversity remains largely unknown. We systematically called CNVs in 38 cohorts from the large-scale ENIGMA-CNV collaboration and the UK Biobank and identified 28 1q21.1 distal deletion and 22 duplication carriers and 37,088 non-carriers (48% male) derived from 15 distinct magnetic resonance imaging scanner sites. With standardized methods, we compared subcortical and cortical brain measures (all) and cognitive performance (UK Biobank only) between carrier groups also testing for mediation of brain structure on cognition. We identified positive dosage effects of copy number on intracranial volume (ICV) and total cortical surface area, with the largest effects in frontal and cingulate cortices, and negative dosage effects on caudate and hippocampal volumes. The carriers displayed distinct cognitive deficit profiles in cognitive tasks from the UK Biobank with intermediate decreases in duplication carriers and somewhat larger in deletion carriers—the latter potentially mediated by ICV or cortical surface area. These results shed light on pathobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, by demonstrating gene dose effect on specific brain structures and effect on cognitive function.

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  • Speed, L., Chen, J., Huettig, F., & Majid, A. (2021). Classifier categories reflect, but do not affect conceptual organization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(4), 625-640. doi:10.1037/xlm0000967.

    Abstract

    Do we structure object-related conceptual information according to real-world sensorimotor experience, or can it also be shaped by linguistic information? This study investigates whether a feature of language coded in grammar—numeral classifiers—affects the conceptual representation of objects. We compared speakers of Mandarin (a classifier language) with speakers of Dutch (a language without classifiers) on how they judged object similarity in four studies. In the first three studies, participants had to rate how similar a target object was to four comparison objects, one of which shared a classifier with the target. Objects were presented as either words or pictures. Overall, the target object was always rated as most similar to the object with the shared classifier, but this was the case regardless of the language of the participant. In a final study employing a successive pile-sorting task, we also found that the underlying object concepts were similar for speakers of Mandarin and Dutch. Speakers of a non-classifier language are therefore sensitive to the same conceptual similarities that underlie classifier systems in a classifier language. Classifier systems may therefore reflect conceptual structure, rather than shape it.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2021). Word segmentation cues in German child-directed speech: A corpus analysis. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830920979016.

    Abstract

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

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  • Stevelink, R., Luykx, J. J., Lin, B. D., Leu, C., Lal, D., Smith, A. W., Schijven, D., Carpay, J. A., Rademaker, K., Baldez, R., A., R., Devinsky, O., Braun, K. P. J., Jansen, F. E., Smit, D. J. A., Koeleman, B. P. C., International League Against Epilepsy Consortium on Complex Epilepsies, & Epi25 Collaborative (2021). Shared genetic basis between genetic generalized epilepsy and background electroencephalographic oscillations. Epilepsia, 62(7), 1518-1527. doi:10.1111/epi.16922.

    Abstract

    Abstract Objective Paroxysmal epileptiform abnormalities on electroencephalography (EEG) are the hallmark of epilepsies, but it is uncertain to what extent epilepsy and background EEG oscillations share neurobiological underpinnings. Here, we aimed to assess the genetic correlation between epilepsy and background EEG oscillations. Methods Confounding factors, including the heterogeneous etiology of epilepsies and medication effects, hamper studies on background brain activity in people with epilepsy. To overcome this limitation, we compared genetic data from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on epilepsy (n = 12 803 people with epilepsy and 24 218 controls) with that from a GWAS on background EEG (n = 8425 subjects without epilepsy), in which background EEG oscillation power was quantified in four different frequency bands: alpha, beta, delta, and theta. We replicated our findings in an independent epilepsy replication dataset (n = 4851 people with epilepsy and 20 428 controls). To assess the genetic overlap between these phenotypes, we performed genetic correlation analyses using linkage disequilibrium score regression, polygenic risk scores, and Mendelian randomization analyses. Results Our analyses show strong genetic correlations of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) with background EEG oscillations, primarily in the beta frequency band. Furthermore, we show that subjects with higher beta and theta polygenic risk scores have a significantly higher risk of having generalized epilepsy. Mendelian randomization analyses suggest a causal effect of GGE genetic liability on beta oscillations. Significance Our results point to shared biological mechanisms underlying background EEG oscillations and the susceptibility for GGE, opening avenues to investigate the clinical utility of background EEG oscillations in the diagnostic workup of epilepsy.

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  • Stoehr, A., Benders, T., Van Hell, J. G., & Fikkert, P. (2021). Feature generalization in Dutch–German bilingual and monolingual children’s speech production. First Language. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/01427237211058937.

    Abstract

    Dutch and German employ voicing contrasts, but Dutch lacks the ‘voiced’ dorsal plosive /ɡ/. We exploited this accidental phonological gap, measuring the presence of prevoicing and voice onset time durations during speech production to determine (1) whether preliterate bilingual Dutch–German and monolingual Dutch-speaking children aged 3;6–6;0 years generalized voicing to /ɡ/ in Dutch; and (2) whether there was evidence for featural cross-linguistic influence from Dutch to German in bilingual children, testing monolingual German-speaking children as controls. Bilingual and monolingual children’s production of /ɡ/ provided partial evidence for feature generalization: in Dutch, both bilingual and monolingual children either recombined Dutch voicing and place features to produce /ɡ/, suggesting feature generalization, or resorted to producing familiar /k/, suggesting segment-level adaptation within their Dutch phonological system. In German, bilingual children’s production of /ɡ/ was influenced by Dutch although the Dutch phoneme inventory lacks /ɡ/. This suggests that not only segments but also voicing features can exert cross-linguistic influence. Taken together, phonological features appear to play a crucial role in aspects of bilingual and monolingual children’s speech production.

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  • Sutcliffe, D. J., Dinasarapu, A. R., Visser, J. E., Den Hoed, J., Seifar, F., Joshi, P., Ceballos-Picot, I., Sardar, T., Hess, E. J., Sun, Y. V., Wen, Z., Zwick, M. E., & Jinnah, H. A. (2021). Induced pluripotent stem cells from subjects with Lesch-Nyhan disease. Scientific Reports, 11: 8523. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-87955-9.

    Abstract

    Lesch-Nyhan disease (LND) is an inherited disorder caused by pathogenic variants in the HPRT1 gene, which encodes the purine recycling enzyme hypoxanthine–guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGprt). We generated 6 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from 3 individuals with LND, along with 6 control lines from 3 normal individuals. All 12 lines had the characteristics of pluripotent stem cells, as assessed by immunostaining for pluripotency markers, expression of pluripotency genes, and differentiation into the 3 primary germ cell layers. Gene expression profiling with RNAseq demonstrated significant heterogeneity among the lines. Despite this heterogeneity, several anticipated abnormalities were readily detectable across all LND lines, including reduced HPRT1 mRNA. Several unexpected abnormalities were also consistently detectable across the LND lines, including decreases in FAR2P1 and increases in RNF39. Shotgun proteomics also demonstrated several expected abnormalities in the LND lines, such as absence of HGprt protein. The proteomics study also revealed several unexpected abnormalities across the LND lines, including increases in GNAO1 decreases in NSE4A. There was a good but partial correlation between abnormalities revealed by the RNAseq and proteomics methods. Finally, functional studies demonstrated LND lines had no HGprt enzyme activity and resistance to the toxic pro-drug 6-thioguanine. Intracellular purines in the LND lines were normal, but they did not recycle hypoxanthine. These cells provide a novel resource to reveal insights into the relevance of heterogeneity among iPSC lines and applications for modeling LND.

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  • Tartaro, G., Takashima, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2021). Consolidation as a mechanism for word learning in sequential bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(5), 864-878. doi:10.1017/S1366728921000286.

    Abstract

    First-language research suggests that new words, after initial episodic-memory encoding, are consolidated and hence become lexically integrated. We asked here if lexical consolidation, about word forms and meanings, occurs in a second language. Italian–English sequential bilinguals learned novel English-like words (e.g., apricon, taught to mean “stapler”). fMRI analyses failed to reveal a predicted shift, after consolidation time, from hippocampal to temporal neocortical activity. In a pause-detection task, responses to existing phonological competitors of learned words (e.g., apricot for apricon) were slowed down if the words had been learned two days earlier (i.e., after consolidation time) but not if they had been learned the same day. In a lexical-decision task, new words primed responses to semantically-related existing words (e.g., apricon-paper) whether the words were learned that day or two days earlier. Consolidation appears to support integration of words into the bilingual lexicon, possibly more rapidly for meanings than for forms.

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  • Ten Oever, S., & Martin, A. E. (2021). An oscillating computational model can track pseudo-rhythmic speech by using linguistic predictions. eLife, 10: e68066. doi:10.7554/eLife.68066.

    Abstract

    Neuronal oscillations putatively track speech in order to optimize sensory processing. However, it is unclear how isochronous brain oscillations can track pseudo-rhythmic speech input. Here we propose that oscillations can track pseudo-rhythmic speech when considering that speech time is dependent on content-based predictions flowing from internal language models. We show that temporal dynamics of speech are dependent on the predictability of words in a sentence. A computational model including oscillations, feedback, and inhibition is able to track pseudo-rhythmic speech input. As the model processes, it generates temporal phase codes, which are a candidate mechanism for carrying information forward in time. The model is optimally sensitive to the natural temporal speech dynamics and can explain empirical data on temporal speech illusions. Our results suggest that speech tracking does not have to rely only on the acoustics but could also exploit ongoing interactions between oscillations and constraints flowing from internal language models.
  • Ten Oever, S., Sack, A. T., Oehrn, C. R., & Axmacher, N. (2021). An engram of intentionally forgotten information. Nature Communications, 12: 6443. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-26713-x.

    Abstract

    Successful forgetting of unwanted memories is crucial for goal-directed behavior and mental wellbeing. While memory retention strengthens memory traces, it is unclear what happens to memory traces of events that are actively forgotten. Using intracranial EEG recordings from lateral temporal cortex, we find that memory traces for actively forgotten information are partially preserved and exhibit unique neural signatures. Memory traces of successfully remembered items show stronger encoding-retrieval similarity in gamma frequency patterns. By contrast, encoding-retrieval similarity of item-specific memory traces of actively forgotten items depend on activity at alpha/beta frequencies commonly associated with functional inhibition. Additional analyses revealed selective modification of item-specific patterns of connectivity and top-down information flow from dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to lateral temporal cortex in memory traces of intentionally forgotten items. These results suggest that intentional forgetting relies more on inhibitory top-down connections than intentional remembering, resulting in inhibitory memory traces with unique neural signatures and representational formats.

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  • Tilmatine, M., Hubers, F., & Hintz, F. (2021). Exploring individual differences in recognizing idiomatic expressions in context. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 37. doi:10.5334/joc.183.

    Abstract

    Written language comprehension requires readers to integrate incoming information with stored mental knowledge to construct meaning. Literally plausible idiomatic expressions can activate both figurative and literal interpretations, which convey different meanings. Previous research has shown that contexts biasing the figurative or literal interpretation of an idiom can facilitate its processing. Moreover, there is evidence that processing of idiomatic expressions is subject to individual differences in linguistic knowledge and cognitive-linguistic skills. It is therefore conceivable that individuals vary in the extent to which they experience context-induced facilitation in processing idiomatic expressions. To explore the interplay between reader-related variables and contextual facilitation, we conducted a self-paced reading experiment. We recruited participants who had recently completed a battery of 33 behavioural tests measuring individual differences in linguistic knowledge, general cognitive skills and linguistic processing skills. In the present experiment, a subset of these participants read idiomatic expressions that were either presented in isolation or preceded by a figuratively or literally biasing context. We conducted analyses on the reading times of idiom-final nouns and the word thereafter (spill-over region) across the three conditions, including participants’ scores from the individual differences battery. Our results showed no main effect of the preceding context, but substantial variation in contextual facilitation between readers. We observed main effects of participants’ word reading ability and non-verbal intelligence on reading times as well as an interaction between condition and linguistic knowledge. We encourage interested researchers to exploit the present dataset for follow-up studies on individual differences in idiom processing.
  • Tilot, A. K., Khramtsova, E. A., Liang, D., Grasby, K. L., Jahanshad, N., Painter, J., Colodro-Conde, L., Bralten, J., Hibar, D. P., Lind, P. A., Liu, S., Brotman, S. M., Thompson, P. M., Medland, S. E., Macciardi, F., Stranger, B. E., Davis, L. K., Fisher, S. E., & Stein, J. L. (2021). The evolutionary history of common genetic variants influencing human cortical surface area. Cerebral Cortex, 31(4), 1873-1887. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa327.

    Abstract

    Structural brain changes along the lineage leading to modern Homo sapiens contributed to our distinctive cognitive and social abilities. However, the evolutionarily relevant molecular variants impacting key aspects of neuroanatomy are largely unknown. Here, we integrate evolutionary annotations of the genome at diverse timescales with common variant associations from large-scale neuroimaging genetic screens. We find that alleles with evidence of recent positive polygenic selection over the past 2000–3000 years are associated with increased surface area (SA) of the entire cortex, as well as specific regions, including those involved in spoken language and visual processing. Therefore, polygenic selective pressures impact the structure of specific cortical areas even over relatively recent timescales. Moreover, common sequence variation within human gained enhancers active in the prenatal cortex is associated with postnatal global SA. We show that such variation modulates the function of a regulatory element of the developmentally relevant transcription factor HEY2 in human neural progenitor cells and is associated with structural changes in the inferior frontal cortex. These results indicate that non-coding genomic regions active during prenatal cortical development are involved in the evolution of human brain structure and identify novel regulatory elements and genes impacting modern human brain structure.
  • Todorova, L. (2021). Language bias in visually driven decisions: Computational neurophysiological mechanisms. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Torres Borda, L., Jadoul, Y., Rasilo, H., Salazar Casals, A., & Ravignani, A. (2021). Vocal plasticity in harbour seal pups. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 376(1840): 20200456. doi:10.1098/rstb.2020.0456.

    Abstract

    Vocal plasticity can occur in response to environmental and biological factors, including conspecifics' vocalizations and noise. Pinnipeds are one of the few mammalian groups capable of vocal learning, and are therefore relevant to understanding the evolution of vocal plasticity in humans and other animals. Here, we investigate the vocal plasticity of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina), a species with vocal learning abilities observed in adulthood but not puppyhood. To evaluate early mammalian vocal development, we tested 1–3 weeks-old seal pups. We tailored noise playbacks to this species and age to induce seal pups to shift their fundamental frequency (f0), rather than adapt call amplitude or temporal characteristics. We exposed individual pups to low- and high-intensity bandpass-filtered noise, which spanned—and masked—their typical range of f0; simultaneously, we recorded pups' spontaneous calls. Unlike most mammals, pups modified their vocalizations by lowering their f0 in response to increased noise. This modulation was precise and adapted to the particular experimental manipulation of the noise condition. In addition, higher levels of noise induced less dispersion around the mean f0, suggesting that pups may have actively focused their phonatory efforts to target lower frequencies. Noise did not seem to affect call amplitude. However, one seal showed two characteristics of the Lombard effect known for human speech in noise: significant increase in call amplitude and flattening of spectral tilt. Our relatively low noise levels may have favoured f0 modulation while inhibiting amplitude adjustments. This lowering of f0 is unusual, as most animals commonly display no such f0 shift. Our data represent a relatively rare case in mammalian neonates, and have implications for the evolution of vocal plasticity and vocal learning across species, including humans.

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  • Tourtouri, E. N., Delogu, F., & Crocker, M. W. (2021). Rational Redundancy in Referring Expressions: Evidence from Event-related Potentials. Cognitive Science, 45(12): e13071. doi:10.1111/cogs.13071.

    Abstract

    In referential communication, Grice's Maxim of Quantity is thought to imply that utterances conveying unnecessary information should incur comprehension difficulties. There is, however, considerable evidence that speakers frequently encode redundant information in their referring expressions, raising the question as to whether such overspecifications hinder listeners' processing. Evidence from previous work is inconclusive, and mostly comes from offline studies. In this article, we present two event-related potential (ERP) experiments, investigating the real-time comprehension of referring expressions that contain redundant adjectives in complex visual contexts. Our findings provide support for both Gricean and bounded-rational accounts. We argue that these seemingly incompatible results can be reconciled if common ground is taken into account. We propose a bounded-rational account of overspecification, according to which even redundant words can be beneficial to comprehension to the extent that they facilitate the reduction of listeners' uncertainty regarding the target referent.
  • Trompenaars, T. (2021). Bringing stories to life: Animacy in narrative and processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Trompenaars, T., Kaluge, T. A., Sarabi, R., & De Swart, P. (2021). Cognitive animacy and its relation to linguistic animacy: Evidence from Japanese and Persian. Language Sciences, 86: 101399. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2021.101399.

    Abstract

    Animacy, commonly defined as the distinction between living and non-living entities, is a useful notion in cognitive science and linguistics employed to describe and predict variation in psychological and linguistic behaviour. In the (psycho)linguistics literature we find linguistic animacy dichotomies which are (implicitly) assumed to correspond to biological dichotomies. We argue this is problematic, as it leaves us without a cognitively grounded, universal description for non-prototypical cases. We show that ‘animacy’ in language can be better understood as universally emerging from a gradual, cognitive property by collecting animacy ratings for a great range of nouns from Japanese and Persian. We used these cognitive ratings in turn to predict linguistic variation in these languages traditionally explained through dichotomous distinctions. We show that whilst (speakers of) languages may subtly differ in their conceptualisation of animacy, universality may be found in the process of mapping conceptual animacy to linguistic variation.
  • Trujillo, J. P., & Holler, J. (2021). The kinematics of social action: Visual signals provide cues for what interlocutors do in conversation. Brain Sciences, 11: 996. doi:10.3390/brainsci11080996.

    Abstract

    During natural conversation, people must quickly understand the meaning of what the other speaker is saying. This concerns not just the semantic content of an utterance, but also the social action (i.e., what the utterance is doing—requesting information, offering, evaluating, checking mutual understanding, etc.) that the utterance is performing. The multimodal nature of human language raises the question of whether visual signals may contribute to the rapid processing of such social actions. However, while previous research has shown that how we move reveals the intentions underlying instrumental actions, we do not know whether the intentions underlying fine-grained social actions in conversation are also revealed in our bodily movements. Using a corpus of dyadic conversations combined with manual annotation and motion tracking, we analyzed the kinematics of the torso, head, and hands during the asking of questions. Manual annotation categorized these questions into six more fine-grained social action types (i.e., request for information, other-initiated repair, understanding check, stance or sentiment, self-directed, active participation). We demonstrate, for the first time, that the kinematics of the torso, head and hands differ between some of these different social action categories based on a 900 ms time window that captures movements starting slightly prior to or within 600 ms after utterance onset. These results provide novel insights into the extent to which our intentions shape the way that we move, and provide new avenues for understanding how this phenomenon may facilitate the fast communication of meaning in conversational interaction, social action, and conversation

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  • Trujillo, J. P., Ozyurek, A., Holler, J., & Drijvers, L. (2021). Speakers exhibit a multimodal Lombard effect in noise. Scientific Reports, 11: 16721. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-95791-0.

    Abstract

    In everyday conversation, we are often challenged with communicating in non-ideal settings, such as in noise. Increased speech intensity and larger mouth movements are used to overcome noise in constrained settings (the Lombard effect). How we adapt to noise in face-to-face interaction, the natural environment of human language use, where manual gestures are ubiquitous, is currently unknown. We asked Dutch adults to wear headphones with varying levels of multi-talker babble while attempting to communicate action verbs to one another. Using quantitative motion capture and acoustic analyses, we found that (1) noise is associated with increased speech intensity and enhanced gesture kinematics and mouth movements, and (2) acoustic modulation only occurs when gestures are not present, while kinematic modulation occurs regardless of co-occurring speech. Thus, in face-to-face encounters the Lombard effect is not constrained to speech but is a multimodal phenomenon where the visual channel carries most of the communicative burden.

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  • Trujillo, J. P., Ozyurek, A., Kan, C. C., Sheftel-Simanova, I., & Bekkering, H. (2021). Differences in the production and perception of communicative kinematics in autism. Autism Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/aur.2611.

    Abstract

    In human communication, social intentions and meaning are often revealed in the way we move. In this study, we investigate the flexibility of human communication in terms of kinematic modulation in a clinical population, namely, autistic individuals. The aim of this study was twofold: to assess (a) whether communicatively relevant kinematic features of gestures differ between autistic and neurotypical individuals, and (b) if autistic individuals use communicative kinematic modulation to support gesture recognition. We tested autistic and neurotypical individuals on a silent gesture production task and a gesture comprehension task. We measured movement during the gesture production task using a Kinect motion tracking device in order to determine if autistic individuals differed from neurotypical individuals in their gesture kinematics. For the gesture comprehension task, we assessed whether autistic individuals used communicatively relevant kinematic cues to support recognition. This was done by using stick-light figures as stimuli and testing for a correlation between the kinematics of these videos and recognition performance. We found that (a) silent gestures produced by autistic and neurotypical individuals differ in communicatively relevant kinematic features, such as the number of meaningful holds between movements, and (b) while autistic individuals are overall unimpaired at recognizing gestures, they processed repetition and complexity, measured as the amount of submovements perceived, differently than neurotypicals do. These findings highlight how subtle aspects of neurotypical behavior can be experienced differently by autistic individuals. They further demonstrate the relationship between movement kinematics and social interaction in high-functioning autistic individuals.

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  • Trujillo, J. P., Levinson, S. C., & Holler, J. (2021). Visual information in computer-mediated interaction matters: Investigating the association between the availability of gesture and turn transition timing in conversation. In M. Kurosu (Ed.), Human-Computer Interaction. Design and User Experience Case Studies. HCII 2021 (pp. 643-657). Cham: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-78468-3_44.

    Abstract

    Natural human interaction involves the fast-paced exchange of speaker turns. Crucially, if a next speaker waited with planning their turn until the current speaker was finished, language production models would predict much longer turn transition times than what we observe. Next speakers must therefore prepare their turn in parallel to listening. Visual signals likely play a role in this process, for example by helping the next speaker to process the ongoing utterance and thus prepare an appropriately-timed response. To understand how visual signals contribute to the timing of turn-taking, and to move beyond the mostly qualitative studies of gesture in conversation, we examined unconstrained, computer-mediated conversations between 20 pairs of participants while systematically manipulating speaker visibility. Using motion tracking and manual gesture annotation, we assessed 1) how visibility affected the timing of turn transitions, and 2) whether use of co-speech gestures and 3) the communicative kinematic features of these gestures were associated with changes in turn transition timing. We found that 1) decreased visibility was associated with less tightly timed turn transitions, and 2) the presence of gestures was associated with more tightly timed turn transitions across visibility conditions. Finally, 3) structural and salient kinematics contributed to gesture’s facilitatory effect on turn transition times. Our findings suggest that speaker visibility--and especially the presence and kinematic form of gestures--during conversation contributes to the temporal coordination of conversational turns in computer-mediated settings. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that it is possible to use naturalistic conversation and still obtain controlled results.
  • Tsoukala, C. (2021). Bilingual sentence production and code-switching: Neural network simulations. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Tsoukala, C., Frank, S. L., Van Den Bosch, A., Valdés Kroff, J., & Broersma, M. (2021). Modeling the auxiliary phrase asymmetry in code-switched Spanish–English. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(2), 271-280. doi:10.1017/S1366728920000449.

    Abstract

    Spanish–English bilinguals rarely code-switch in the perfect structure between the Spanish auxiliary haber (“to have”) and the participle (e.g., “Ella ha voted”; “She has voted”). However, they are somewhat likely to switch in the progressive structure between the Spanish auxiliary estar (“to be”) and the participle (“Ella está voting”; “She is voting”). This phenomenon is known as the “auxiliary phrase asymmetry”. One hypothesis as to why this occurs is that estar has more semantic weight as it also functions as an independent verb, whereas haber is almost exclusively used as an auxiliary verb. To test this hypothesis, we employed a connectionist model that produces spontaneous code-switches. Through simulation experiments, we showed that i) the asymmetry emerges in the model and that ii) the asymmetry disappears when using haber also as a main verb, which adds semantic weight. Therefore, the lack of semantic weight of haber may indeed cause the asymmetry.
  • Tsoukala, C., Broersma, M., Van den Bosch, A., & Frank, S. L. (2021). Simulating code-switching using a neural network model of bilingual sentence production. Computational Brain & Behavior, 4, 87-100. doi:10.1007/s42113-020-00088-6.

    Abstract

    Code-switching is the alternation from one language to the other during bilingual speech. We present a novel method of researching this phenomenon using computational cognitive modeling. We trained a neural network of bilingual sentence production to simulate early balanced Spanish–English bilinguals, late speakers of English who have Spanish as a dominant native language, and late speakers of Spanish who have English as a dominant native language. The model produced code-switches even though it was not exposed to code-switched input. The simulations predicted how code-switching patterns differ between early balanced and late non-balanced bilinguals; the balanced bilingual simulation code-switches considerably more frequently, which is in line with what has been observed in human speech production. Additionally, we compared the patterns produced by the simulations with two corpora of spontaneous bilingual speech and identified noticeable commonalities and differences. To our knowledge, this is the first computational cognitive model simulating the code-switched production of non-balanced bilinguals and comparing the simulated production of balanced and non-balanced bilinguals with that of human bilinguals.

    Additional information

    dual-path model
  • Vágvölgyi, R., Bergström, K., Bulajić, A., Klatte, M., Fernandes, T., Grosche, M., Huettig, F., Rüsseler, J., & Lachmann, T. (2021). Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 159-179. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00074-9.

    Abstract

    A considerable amount of the population in more economically developed countries are functionally illiterate (i.e., low literate). Despite some years of schooling and basic reading skills, these individuals cannot properly read and write and, as a consequence have problems to understand even short texts. An often-discussed approach (Greenberg et al., 1997) assumes weak phonological processing skills coupled with untreated developmental dyslexia as possible causes of functional illiteracy. Although there is some data suggesting commonalities between low literacy and developmental dyslexia, it is still not clear, whether these reflect shared consequences (i.e., cognitive and behavioral profile) or shared causes. The present systematic review aims at exploring the similarities and differences identified in empirical studies investigating both functional illiterate and developmental dyslexic samples. Nine electronic databases were searched in order to identify all quantitative studies published in English or German. Although a broad search strategy and few limitations were applied, only 5 studies have been identified adequate from the resulting 9269 references. The results point to the lack of studies directly comparing functional illiterate with developmental dyslexic samples. Moreover, a huge variance has been identified between the studies in how they approached the concept of functional illiteracy, particularly when it came to critical categories such the applied definition, terminology, criteria for inclusion in the sample, research focus, and outcome measures. The available data highlight the need for more direct comparisons in order to understand what extent functional illiteracy and dyslexia share common characteristics.

    Additional information

    supplementary materials
  • Van Tiel, B., Deliens, G., Geelhand, P., Murillo Oosterwijk, A., & Kissine, M. (2021). Strategic deception in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51, 255-266. doi:10.1007/s10803-020-04525-0.

    Abstract

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is often associated with impaired perspective-taking skills. Deception is an important indicator of perspective-taking, and therefore may be thought to pose difficulties to people with ASD (e.g., Baron-Cohen in J Child Psychol Psychiatry 3:1141–1155, 1992). To test this hypothesis, we asked participants with and without ASD to play a computerised deception game. We found that participants with ASD were equally likely—and in complex cases of deception even more likely—to deceive and detect deception, and learned deception at a faster rate. However, participants with ASD initially deceived less frequently, and were slower at detecting deception. These results suggest that people with ASD readily engage in deception but may do so through conscious and effortful reasoning about other people’s perspectiv
  • Van Bergen, G., & Hogeweg, L. (2021). Managing interpersonal discourse expectations: a comparative analysis of contrastive discourse particles in Dutch. Linguistics, 59(2), 333-360. doi:10.1515/ling-2021-0020.

    Abstract

    In this article we investigate how speakers manage discourse expectations in dialogue by comparing the meaning and use of three Dutch discourse particles, i.e. wel, toch and eigenlijk, which all express a contrast between their host utterance and a discourse-based expectation. The core meanings of toch, wel and eigenlijk are formally distinguished on the basis of two intersubjective parameters: (i) whether the particle marks alignment or misalignment between speaker and addressee discourse beliefs, and (ii) whether the particle requires an assessment of the addressee’s representation of mutual discourse beliefs. By means of a quantitative corpus study, we investigate to what extent the intersubjective meaning distinctions between wel, toch and eigenlijk are reflected in statistical usage patterns across different social situations. Results suggest that wel, toch and eigenlijk are lexicalizations of distinct generalized politeness strategies when expressing contrast in social interaction. Our findings call for an interdisciplinary approach to discourse particles in order to enhance our understanding of their functions in language.
  • Van Paridon, J., & Thompson, B. (2021). subs2vec: Word embeddings from subtitles in 55 languages. Behavior Research Methods, 53(2), 629-655. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01406-3.

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a novel collection of word embeddings, numerical representations of lexical semantics, in 55 languages, trained on a large corpus of pseudo-conversational speech transcriptions from television shows and movies. The embeddings were trained on the OpenSubtitles corpus using the fastText implementation of the skipgram algorithm. Performance comparable with (and in some cases exceeding) embeddings trained on non-conversational (Wikipedia) text is reported on standard benchmark evaluation datasets. A novel evaluation method of particular relevance to psycholinguists is also introduced: prediction of experimental lexical norms in multiple languages. The models, as well as code for reproducing the models and all analyses reported in this paper (implemented as a user-friendly Python package), are freely available at: https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec.

    Additional information

    https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec
  • Van Paridon, J. (2021). Speaking while listening: Language processing in speech shadowing and translation. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Van der Meer, H. A., Sheftel‑Simanova, I., Kan, C. C., & Trujillo, J. P. (2021). Translation, cross-cultural adaptation, and validation of a Dutch version of the actions and feelings questionnaire in autistic and neurotypical adult. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10803-021-05082-w.

    Abstract

    The actions and feelings questionnaire (AFQ) provides a short, self-report measure of how well someone uses and understands visual communicative signals such as gestures. The objective of this study was to translate and cross-culturally adapt the AFQ into Dutch (AFQ-NL) and validate this new version in neurotypical and autistic populations. Translation and adaptation of the AFQ consisted of forward translation, synthesis, back translation, and expert review. In order to validate the AFQ-NL, we assessed convergent and divergent validity. We additionally assessed internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha. Validation and reliability outcomes were all satisfactory. The AFQ-NL is a valid adaptation that can be used for both autistic and neurotypical populations in the Netherlands.

    Additional information

    supplementary file 1
  • Van Heukelum, S., Tulva, K., Geers, F. E., van Dulm, S., Ruisch, I. H., Mill, J., Viana, J. F., Beckmann, C. F., Buitelaar, J. K., Poelmans, G., Glennon, J. C., Vogt, B. A., Havenith, M. N., & França, A. S. (2021). A central role for anterior cingulate cortex in the control of pathological aggression. Current Biology, 31, 2321-2333.e5. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2021.03.062.

    Abstract

    Controlling aggression is a crucial skill in social species like rodents and humans and has been associated with anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Here, we directly link the failed regulation of aggression in BALB/cJ mice to ACC hypofunction. We first show that ACC in BALB/cJ mice is structurally degraded: neuron density is decreased, with pervasive neuron death and reactive astroglia. Gene-set enrichment analysis suggested that this process is driven by neuronal degeneration, which then triggers toxic astrogliosis. cFos expression across ACC indicated functional consequences: during aggressive encounters, ACC was engaged in control mice, but not BALB/cJ mice. Chemogenetically activating ACC during aggressive encounters drastically suppressed pathological aggression but left species-typical aggression intact. The network effects of our chemogenetic perturbation suggest that this behavioral rescue is mediated by suppression of amygdala and hypothalamus and activation of mediodorsal thalamus. Together, these findings highlight the central role of ACC in curbing pathological aggression.
  • Van der Werf, O. J., Ten Oever, S., Schuhmann, T., & Sack, A. T. (2021). No evidence of rhythmic visuospatial attention at cued locations in a spatial cuing paradigm, regardless of their behavioural relevance. European Journal of Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/ejn.15353.

    Abstract

    Recent evidence suggests that visuospatial attentional performance is not stable over time but fluctuates in a rhythmic fashion. These attentional rhythms allow for sampling of different visuospatial locations in each cycle of this rhythm. However, it is still unclear in which paradigmatic circumstances rhythmic attention becomes evident. First, it is unclear at what spatial locations rhythmic attention occurs. Second, it is unclear how the behavioural relevance of each spatial location determines the rhythmic sampling patterns. Here, we aim to elucidate these two issues. Firstly, we aim to find evidence of rhythmic attention at the predicted (i.e. cued) location under moderately informative predictor value, replicating earlier studies. Secondly, we hypothesise that rhythmic attentional sampling behaviour will be affected by the behavioural relevance of the sampled location, ranging from non-informative to fully informative. To these aims, we used a modified Egly-Driver task with three conditions: a fully informative cue, a moderately informative cue (replication condition), and a non-informative cue. We did not find evidence of rhythmic sampling at cued locations, failing to replicate earlier studies. Nor did we find differences in rhythmic sampling under different predictive values of the cue. The current data does not allow for robust conclusions regarding the non-cued locations due to the absence of a priori hypotheses. Post-hoc explorative data analyses, however, clearly indicate that attention samples non-cued locations in a theta-rhythmic manner, specifically when the cued location bears higher behavioural relevance than the non-cued locations.
  • Ip, H. F., van der Laan, C. M., Krapohl, E. M. L., Brikell, I., Sánchez-Mora, C., Nolte, I. M., St Pourcain, B., Bolhuis, K., Palviainen, T., Zafarmand, H., Colodro-Conde, L., Gordon, S., Zayats, T., Aliev, F., Jiang, C., Wang, C. A., Saunders, G., Karhunen, V., Hammerschlag, A. R., Adkins, D. E. and 129 moreIp, H. F., van der Laan, C. M., Krapohl, E. M. L., Brikell, I., Sánchez-Mora, C., Nolte, I. M., St Pourcain, B., Bolhuis, K., Palviainen, T., Zafarmand, H., Colodro-Conde, L., Gordon, S., Zayats, T., Aliev, F., Jiang, C., Wang, C. A., Saunders, G., Karhunen, V., Hammerschlag, A. R., Adkins, D. E., Border, R., Peterson, R. E., Prinz, J. A., Thiering, E., Seppälä, I., Vilor-Tejedor, N., Ahluwalia, T. S., Day, F. R., Hottenga, J.-J., Allegrini, A. G., Rimfeld, K., Chen, Q., Lu, Y., Martin, J., Soler Artigas, M., Rovira, P., Bosch, R., Español, G., Ramos Quiroga, J. A., Neumann, A., Ensink, J., Grasby, K., Morosoli, J. J., Tong, X., Marrington, S., Middeldorp, C., Scott, J. G., Vinkhuyzen, A., Shabalin, A. A., Corley, R., Evans, L. M., Sugden, K., Alemany, S., Sass, L., Vinding, R., Ruth, K., Tyrrell, J., Davies, G. E., Ehli, E. A., Hagenbeek, F. A., De Zeeuw, E., Van Beijsterveldt, T. C., Larsson, H., Snieder, H., Verhulst, F. C., Amin, N., Whipp, A. M., Korhonen, T., Vuoksimaa, E., Rose, R. J., Uitterlinden, A. G., Heath, A. C., Madden, P., Haavik, J., Harris, J. R., Helgeland, Ø., Johansson, S., Knudsen, G. P. S., Njolstad, P. R., Lu, Q., Rodriguez, A., Henders, A. K., Mamun, A., Najman, J. M., Brown, S., Hopfer, C., Krauter, K., Reynolds, C., Smolen, A., Stallings, M., Wadsworth, S., Wall, T. L., Silberg, J. L., Miller, A., Keltikangas-Järvinen, L., Hakulinen, C., Pulkki-Råback, L., Havdahl, A., Magnus, P., Raitakari, O. T., Perry, J. R. B., Llop, S., Lopez-Espinosa, M.-J., Bønnelykke, K., Bisgaard, H., Sunyer, J., Lehtimäki, T., Arseneault, L., Standl, M., Heinrich, J., Boden, J., Pearson, J., Horwood, L. J., Kennedy, M., Poulton, R., Eaves, L. J., Maes, H. H., Hewitt, J., Copeland, W. E., Costello, E. J., Williams, G. M., Wray, N., Järvelin, M.-R., McGue, M., Iacono, W., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Whitehouse, A., Pennell, C. E., Klump, K. L., Burt, S. A., Dick, D. M., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Martin, N. G., Medland, S. E., Vrijkotte, T., Kaprio, J., Tiemeier, H., Davey Smith, G., Hartman, C. A., Oldehinkel, A. J., Casas, M., Ribasés, M., Lichtenstein, P., Lundström, S., Plomin, R., Bartels, M., Nivard, M. G., & Boomsma, D. I. (2021). Genetic association study of childhood aggression across raters, instruments, and age. Translational Psychiatry, 11: 413. doi:10.1038/s41398-021-01480-x.
  • Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Does neuronal recycling result in destructive competition? The influence of learning to read on the recognition of faces. Psychological Science, 32, 459-465. doi:10.1177/0956797620971652.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplemental material
  • Van Dijk, C. N. (2021). Cross-linguistic influence during real-time sentence processing in bilingual children and adults. PhD Thesis, Raboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Van Dijk, C. N., Van Wonderen, E., Koutamanis, E., Kootstra, G. J., Dijkstra, T., & Unsworth, S. (2021). Cross-linguistic influence in simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children: A meta-analysis. Journal of Child Language. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0305000921000337.

    Abstract

    Although cross-linguistic influence at the level of morphosyntax is one of the most intensively studied topics in child bilingualism, the circumstances under which it occurs remain unclear. In this meta-analysis, we measured the effect size of cross-linguistic influence and systematically assessed its predictors in 750 simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children in 17 unique language combinations across 26 experimental studies. We found a significant small to moderate average effect size of cross-linguistic influence, indicating that cross-linguistic influence is part and parcel of bilingual development. Language dominance, operationalized as societal language, was a significant predictor of cross-linguistic influence, whereas surface overlap, language domain and age were not. Perhaps an even more important finding was that definitions and operationalisations of cross-linguistic influence and its predictors varied considerably between studies. This could explain the absence of a comprehensive theory in the field. To solve this issue, we argue for a more uniform method of studying cross-linguistic influence.
  • Varola*, M., Verga*, L., Sroka, M., Villanueva, S., Charrier, I., & Ravignani, A. (2021). Can harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) discriminate familiar conspecific calls after long periods of separation? PeerJ, 9: e12431. doi:10.7717/peerj.12431.

    Abstract

    * - indicates joint first authorship - The ability to discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar calls may play a key role in pinnipeds’ communication and survival, as in the case of mother-pup interactions. Vocal discrimination abilities have been suggested to be more developed in pinniped species with the highest selective pressure such as the otariids; yet, in some group-living phocids, such as harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), mothers are also able to recognize their pup’s voice. Conspecifics’ vocal recognition in pups has never been investigated; however, the repeated interaction occurring between pups within the breeding season suggests that long-term vocal discrimination may occur. Here we explored this hypothesis by presenting three rehabilitated seal pups with playbacks of vocalizations from unfamiliar or familiar pups. It is uncommon for seals to come into rehabilitation for a second time in their lifespan, and this study took advantage of these rare cases. A simple visual inspection of the data plots seemed to show more reactions, and of longer duration, in response to familiar as compared to unfamiliar playbacks in two out of three pups. However, statistical analyses revealed no significant difference between the experimental conditions. We also found no significant asymmetry in orientation (left vs. right) towards familiar and unfamiliar sounds. While statistics do not support the hypothesis of an established ability to discriminate familiar vocalizations from unfamiliar ones in harbor seal pups, further investigations with a larger sample size are needed to confirm or refute this hypothesis.

    Additional information

    dataset
  • Vega-Mendoza, M., Pickering, M. J., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2021). Concurrent use of animacy and event-knowledge during comprehension: Evidence from event-related potentials. Neuropsychologia, 152: 107724. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107724.

    Abstract

    In two ERP experiments, we investigated whether readers prioritize animacy over real-world event-knowledge during sentence comprehension. We used the paradigm of Paczynski and Kuperberg (2012), who argued that animacy is prioritized based on the observations that the ‘related anomaly effect’ (reduced N400s for context-related anomalous words compared to unrelated words) does not occur for animacy violations, and that animacy violations but not relatedness violations elicit P600 effects. Participants read passive sentences with plausible agents (e.g., The prescription for the mental disorder was written by the psychiatrist) or implausible agents that varied in animacy and semantic relatedness (schizophrenic/guard/pill/fence). In Experiment 1 (with a plausibility judgment task), plausible sentences elicited smaller N400s relative to all types of implausible sentences. Crucially, animate words elicited smaller N400s than inanimate words, and related words elicited smaller N400s than unrelated words, but Bayesian analysis revealed substantial evidence against an interaction between animacy and relatedness. Moreover, at the P600 time-window, we observed more positive ERPs for animate than inanimate words and for related than unrelated words at anterior regions. In Experiment 2 (without judgment task), we observed an N400 effect with animacy violations, but no other effects. Taken together, the results of our experiments fail to support a prioritized role of animacy information over real-world event-knowledge, but they support an interactive, constraint-based view on incremental semantic processing.
  • Verdonschot, R. G., Han, J.-I., & Kinoshita, S. (2021). The proximate unit in Korean speech production: Phoneme or syllable? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74, 187-198. doi:10.1177/1747021820950239.

    Abstract

    We investigated the “proximate unit” in Korean, that is, the initial phonological unit selected in speech production by Korean speakers. Previous studies have shown mixed evidence indicating either a phoneme-sized or a syllable-sized unit. We conducted two experiments in which participants named pictures while ignoring superimposed non-words. In English, for this task, when the picture (e.g., dog) and distractor phonology (e.g., dark) initially overlap, typically the picture target is named faster. We used a range of conditions (in Korean) varying from onset overlap to syllabic overlap, and the results indicated an important role for the syllable, but not the phoneme. We suggest that the basic unit used in phonological encoding in Korean is different from Germanic languages such as English and Dutch and also from Japanese and possibly also Chinese. Models dealing with the architecture of language production can use these results when providing a framework suitable for all languages in the world, including Korean.
  • Verdonschot, R. G., Phu'o'ng, H. T. L., & Tamaoka, K. (2021). Phonological encoding in Vietnamese: An experimental investigation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/17470218211053244.

    Abstract

    In English, Dutch, and other Germanic languages the initial phonological unit used in word production has been shown to be the phoneme; conversely, others have revealed that in Chinese this is the atonal syllable and in Japanese the mora. The current paper is, to our knowledge, the first to report chronometric data on Vietnamese phonological encoding. Vietnamese, a tonal language, is of interest as, despite its Austroasiatic roots, it has clear similarities with Chinese through extended contact over a prolonged period. Four experiments (i.e., masked priming, phonological Stroop, picture naming with written distractors, picture naming with auditory distractors) have been conducted to investigate Vietnamese phonological encoding. Results show that in all four experiments both onset effects as well as whole syllable effects emerge. This indicates that the fundamental phonological encoding unit during Vietnamese language production is the phoneme despite its apparent similarities to Chinese. This result might have emerged due to tone assignment being a qualitatively different process in Vietnamese compared to Chinese.
  • Verga, L., & Ravignani, A. (2021). Strange seal sounds: Claps, slaps, and multimodal pinniped rhythms. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9: 644497. doi:10.3389/fevo.2021.644497.

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