Publications

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  • Howe, L., Lawson, D. J., Davies, N. M., St Pourcain, B., Lewis, S. J., Smith, G. D., & Hemani, G. (2019). Genetic evidence for assortative mating on alcohol consumption in the UK Biobank. Nature Communications, 10: 5039. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12424-x.

    Abstract

    Alcohol use is correlated within spouse-pairs, but it is difficult to disentangle effects of alcohol consumption on mate-selection from social factors or the shared spousal environment. We hypothesised that genetic variants related to alcohol consumption may, via their effect on alcohol behaviour, influence mate selection. Here, we find strong evidence that an individual’s self-reported alcohol consumption and their genotype at rs1229984, a missense variant in ADH1B, are associated with their partner’s self-reported alcohol use. Applying Mendelian randomization, we estimate that a unit increase in an individual’s weekly alcohol consumption increases partner’s alcohol consumption by 0.26 units (95% C.I. 0.15, 0.38; P = 8.20 × 10−6). Furthermore, we find evidence of spousal genotypic concordance for rs1229984, suggesting that spousal concordance for alcohol consumption existed prior to cohabitation. Although the SNP is strongly associated with ancestry, our results suggest some concordance independent of population stratification. Our findings suggest that alcohol behaviour directly influences mate selection.
  • Hubbard, R. J., Rommers, J., Jacobs, C. L., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Downstream behavioral and electrophysiological consequences of word prediction on recognition memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 291. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00291.

    Abstract

    When people process language, they can use context to predict upcoming information, influencing processing and comprehension as seen in both behavioral and neural measures. Although numerous studies have shown immediate facilitative effects of confirmed predictions, the downstream consequences of prediction have been less explored. In the current study, we examined those consequences by probing participants’ recognition memory for words after they read sets of sentences. Participants read strongly and weakly constraining sentences with expected or unexpected endings (“I added my name to the list/basket”), and later were tested on their memory for the sentence endings while EEG was recorded. Critically, the memory test contained words that were predictable (“list”) but were never read (participants saw “basket”). Behaviorally, participants showed successful discrimination between old and new items, but false alarmed to the expected-item lures more often than to new items, showing that predicted words or concepts can linger, even when predictions are disconfirmed. Although false alarm rates did not differ by constraint, event-related potentials (ERPs) differed between false alarms to strongly and weakly predictable words. Additionally, previously unexpected (compared to previously expected) endings that appeared on the memory test elicited larger N1 and LPC amplitudes, suggesting greater attention and episodic recollection. In contrast, highly predictable sentence endings that had been read elicited reduced LPC amplitudes during the memory test. Thus, prediction can facilitate processing in the moment, but can also lead to false memory and reduced recollection for predictable information.
  • Huettig, F., & Guerra, E. (2019). Effects of speech rate, preview time of visual context, and participant instructions reveal strong limits on prediction in language processing. Brain Research, 1706, 196-208. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.11.013.

    Abstract

    There is a consensus among language researchers that people can predict upcoming language. But do people always predict when comprehending language? Notions that “brains … are essentially prediction machines” certainly suggest so. In three eye-tracking experiments we tested this view. Participants listened to simple Dutch sentences (‘Look at the displayed bicycle’) while viewing four objects (a target, e.g. a bicycle, and three unrelated distractors). We used the identical visual stimuli and the same spoken sentences but varied speech rates, preview time, and participant instructions. Target nouns were preceded by definite gender-marked determiners, which allowed participants to predict the target object because only the targets but not the distractors agreed in gender with the determiner. In Experiment 1, participants had four seconds preview and sentences were presented either in a slow or a normal speech rate. Participants predicted the targets as soon as they heard the determiner in both conditions. Experiment 2 was identical except that participants were given only a one second preview. Participants predicted the targets only in the slow speech condition. Experiment 3 was identical to Experiment 2 except that participants were explicitly told to predict. This led only to a small prediction effect in the normal speech condition. Thus, a normal speech rate only afforded prediction if participants had an extensive preview. Even the explicit instruction to predict the target resulted in only a small anticipation effect with a normal speech rate and a short preview. These findings are problematic for theoretical proposals that assume that prediction pervades cognition.
  • Huettig, F., & Pickering, M. (2019). Literacy advantages beyond reading: Prediction of spoken language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23(6), 464-475. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.03.008.

    Abstract

    Literacy has many obvious benefits—it exposes the reader to a wealth of new information and enhances syntactic knowledge. However, we argue that literacy has an additional, often overlooked, benefit: it enhances people’s ability to predict spoken language thereby aiding comprehension. Readers are under pressure to process information more quickly than listeners, and reading provides excellent conditions, in particular a stable environment, for training the predictive system. It also leads to increased awareness of words as linguistic units, and more fine-grained phonological and additional orthographic representations, which sharpen lexical representations and facilitate predicted representations to be retrieved. Thus, reading trains core processes and representations involved in language prediction that are common to both reading and listening.
  • Huisman, J. L. A., Majid, A., & Van Hout, R. (2019). The geographical configuration of a language area influences linguistic diversity. PLoS One, 14(6): e0217363. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217363.

    Abstract

    Like the transfer of genetic variation through gene flow, language changes constantly as a result of its use in human interaction. Contact between speakers is most likely to happen when they are close in space, time, and social setting. Here, we investigated the role of geographical configuration in this process by studying linguistic diversity in Japan, which comprises a large connected mainland (less isolation, more potential contact) and smaller island clusters of the Ryukyuan archipelago (more isolation, less potential contact). We quantified linguistic diversity using dialectometric methods, and performed regression analyses to assess the extent to which distance in space and time predict contemporary linguistic diversity. We found that language diversity in general increases as geographic distance increases and as time passes—as with biodiversity. Moreover, we found that (I) for mainland languages, linguistic diversity is most strongly related to geographic distance—a so-called isolation-by-distance pattern, and that (II) for island languages, linguistic diversity reflects the time since varieties separated and diverged—an isolation-by-colonisation pattern. Together, these results confirm previous findings that (linguistic) diversity is shaped by distance, but also goes beyond this by demonstrating the critical role of geographic configuration.
  • Hulten, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Udden, J., Lam, N. H. L., & Hagoort, P. (2019). How the brain makes sense beyond the processing of single words – An MEG study. NeuroImage, 186, 586-594. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.035.

    Abstract

    Human language processing involves combinatorial operations that make human communication stand out in the animal kingdom. These operations rely on a dynamic interplay between the inferior frontal and the posterior temporal cortices. Using source reconstructed magnetoencephalography, we tracked language processing in the brain, in order to investigate how individual words are interpreted when part of sentence context. The large sample size in this study (n = 68) allowed us to assess how event-related activity is associated across distinct cortical areas, by means of inter-areal co-modulation within an individual. We showed that, within 500 ms of seeing a word, the word's lexical information has been retrieved and unified with the sentence context. This does not happen in a strictly feed-forward manner, but by means of co-modulation between the left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC) and left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC), for each individual word. The co-modulation of LIFC and LPTC occurs around 400 ms after the onset of each word, across the progression of a sentence. Moreover, these core language areas are supported early on by the attentional network. The results provide a detailed description of the temporal orchestration related to single word processing in the context of ongoing language.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S1053811918321165-mmc1.pdf
  • Iacozza, S., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2019). How in-group bias influences source memory for words learned from in-group and out-group speakers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 308. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00308.

    Abstract

    Individuals rapidly extract information about others’ social identity, including whether or not they belong to their in-group. Group membership status has been shown to affect how attentively people encode information conveyed by those others. These findings are highly relevant for the field of psycholinguistics where there exists an open debate on how words are represented in the mental lexicon and how abstract or context-specific these representations are. Here, we used a novel word learning paradigm to test our proposal that the group membership status of speakers also affects how speaker-specific representations of novel words are. Participants learned new words from speakers who either attended their own university (in-group speakers) or did not (out-group speakers) and performed a task to measure their individual in-group bias. Then, their source memory of the new words was tested in a recognition test to probe the speaker-specific content of the novel lexical representations and assess how it related to individual in-group biases. We found that speaker group membership and participants’ in-group bias affected participants’ decision biases. The stronger the in-group bias, the more cautious participants were in their decisions. This was particularly applied to in-group related decisions. These findings indicate that social biases can influence recognition threshold. Taking a broader scope, defining how information is represented is a topic of great overlap between the fields of memory and psycholinguistics. Nevertheless, researchers from these fields tend to stay within the theoretical and methodological borders of their own field, missing the chance to deepen their understanding of phenomena that are of common interest. Here we show how methodologies developed in the memory field can be implemented in language research to shed light on an important theoretical issue that relates to the composition of lexical representations.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Ioumpa, K., Graham, S. A., Clausner, T., Fisher, S. E., Van Lier, R., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). Enhanced self-reported affect and prosocial behaviour without differential physiological responses in mirror-sensory synaesthesia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 374: 20190395. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0395.

    Abstract

    Mirror-sensory synaesthetes mirror the pain or touch that they observe in other people on their own bodies. This type of synaesthesia has been associated with enhanced empathy. We investigated whether the enhanced empathy of people with mirror-sensory synesthesia influences the experience of situations involving touch or pain and whether it affects their prosocial decision making. Mirror-sensory synaesthetes (N = 18, all female), verified with a touch-interference paradigm, were compared with a similar number of age-matched control individuals (all female). Participants viewed arousing images depicting pain or touch; we recorded subjective valence and arousal ratings, and physiological responses, hypothesizing more extreme reactions in synaesthetes. The subjective impact of positive and negative images was stronger in synaesthetes than in control participants; the stronger the reported synaesthesia, the more extreme the picture ratings. However, there was no evidence for differential physiological or hormonal responses to arousing pictures. Prosocial decision making was assessed with an economic game assessing altruism, in which participants had to divide money between themselves and a second player. Mirror-sensory synaesthetes donated more money than non-synaesthetes, showing enhanced prosocial behaviour, and also scored higher on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index as a measure of empathy. Our study demonstrates the subjective impact of mirror-sensory synaesthesia and its stimulating influence on prosocial behaviour.

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  • Iyer, S., Sam, F. S., DiPrimio, N., Preston, G., Verheijen, J., Murthy, K., Parton, Z., Tsang, H., Lao, J., Morava, E., & Perlstein, E. O. (2019). Repurposing the aldose reductase inhibitor and diabetic neuropathy drug epalrestat for the congenital disorder of glycosylation PMM2-CDG. Disease models & mechanisms, 12(11): UNSP dmm040584. doi:10.1242/dmm.040584.

    Abstract

    Phosphomannomutase 2 deficiency, or PMM2-CDG, is the most common congenital disorder of glycosylation and affects over 1000 patients globally. There are no approved drugs that treat the symptoms or root cause of PMM2-CDG. To identify clinically actionable compounds that boost human PMM2 enzyme function, we performed a multispecies drug repurposing screen using a novel worm model of PMM2-CDG, followed by PMM2 enzyme functional studies in PMM2-CDG patient fibroblasts. Drug repurposing candidates from this study, and drug repurposing candidates from a previously published study using yeast models of PMM2-CDG, were tested for their effect on human PMM2 enzyme activity in PMM2-CDG fibroblasts. Of the 20 repurposing candidates discovered in the worm-based phenotypic screen, 12 were plant-based polyphenols. Insights from structure-activity relationships revealed epalrestat, the only antidiabetic aldose reductase inhibitor approved for use in humans, as a first-in-class PMM2 enzyme activator. Epalrestat increased PMM2 enzymatic activity in four PMM2-CDG patient fibroblast lines with genotypes R141H/F119L, R141H/E139K, R141H/N216I and R141H/F183S. PMM2 enzyme activity gains ranged from 30% to 400% over baseline, depending on genotype. Pharmacological inhibition of aldose reductase by epalrestat may shunt glucose from the polyol pathway to glucose-1,6-bisphosphate, which is an endogenous stabilizer and coactivator of PMM2 homodimerization. Epalrestat is a safe, oral and brain penetrant drug that was approved 27 years ago in Japan to treat diabetic neuropathy in geriatric populations. We demonstrate that epalrestat is the first small molecule activator ofPMM2 enzyme activity with the potential to treat peripheral neuropathy and correct the underlying enzyme deficiency in a majority of pediatric and adult PMM2-CDG patients.

    Supplementary material

    DMM040584supp.pdf
  • Janssen, C., Segers, E., McQueen, J. M., & Verhoeven, L. (2019). Comparing effects of instruction on word meaning and word form on early literacy abilities in kindergarten. Early Education and Development, 30(3), 375-399. doi:10.1080/10409289.2018.1547563.

    Abstract

    Research Findings: The present study compared effects of explicit instruction on and practice with the phonological form of words (form-focused instruction) versus explicit instruction on and practice with the meaning of words (meaning-focused instruction). Instruction was given via interactive storybook reading in the kindergarten classroom of children learning Dutch. We asked whether the 2 types of instruction had different effects on vocabulary development and 2 precursors of reading ability—phonological awareness and letter knowledge—and we examined effects on these measures of the ability to learn new words with minimal acoustic-phonetic differences. Learners showed similar receptive target-word vocabulary gain after both types of instruction, but learners who received form-focused vocabulary instruction showed more gain in semantic knowledge of target vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge than learners who received meaning-focused vocabulary instruction. Level of ability to learn pairs of words with minimal acoustic-phonetic differences predicted gain in semantic knowledge of target vocabulary and in letter knowledge in the form-focused instruction group only. Practice or Policy: A focus on the form of words during instruction appears to have benefits for young children learning vocabulary.
  • Janssen, R., Moisik, S. R., & Dediu, D. (2019). The effects of larynx height on vowel production are mitigated by the active control of articulators. Journal of Phonetics, 74, 1-17. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2019.02.002.

    Abstract

    The influence of larynx position on vowel articulation is an important topic in understanding speech production, the present-day distribution of linguistic diversity and the evolution of speech and language in our lineage. We introduce here a realistic computer model of the vocal tract, constructed from actual human MRI data, which can learn, using machine learning techniques, to control the articulators in such a way as to produce speech sounds matching as closely as possible to a given set of target vowels. We systematically control the vertical position of the larynx and we quantify the differences between the target and produced vowels for each such position across multiple replications. We report that, indeed, larynx height does affect the accuracy of reproducing the target vowels and the distinctness of the produced vowel system, that there is a “sweet spot” of larynx positions that are optimal for vowel production, but that nevertheless, even extreme larynx positions do not result in a collapsed or heavily distorted vowel space that would make speech unintelligible. Together with other lines of evidence, our results support the view that the vowel space of human languages is influenced by our larynx position, but that other positions of the larynx may also be fully compatible with speech.

    Supplementary material

    Research Data via Github
  • Jongman, S. R., Piai, V., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Planning for language production: The electrophysiological signature of attention to the cue to speak. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1690153.

    Abstract

    In conversation, speech planning can overlap with listening to the interlocutor. It has been postulated that once there is enough information to formulate a response, planning is initiated and the response is maintained in working memory. Concurrently, the auditory input is monitored for the turn end such that responses can be launched promptly. In three EEG experiments, we aimed to identify the neural signature of phonological planning and monitoring by comparing delayed responding to not responding (reading aloud, repetition and lexical decision). These comparisons consistently resulted in a sustained positivity and beta power reduction over posterior regions. We argue that these effects reflect attention to the sequence end. Phonological planning and maintenance were not detected in the neural signature even though it is highly likely these were taking place. This suggests that EEG must be used cautiously to identify response planning when the neural signal is overridden by attention effects
  • Joo, H., Jang, J., Kim, S., Cho, T., & Cutler, A. (2019). Prosodic structural effects on coarticulatory vowel nasalization in Australian English in comparison to American English. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 835-839). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    This study investigates effects of prosodic factors (prominence, boundary) on coarticulatory Vnasalization in Australian English (AusE) in CVN and NVC in comparison to those in American English (AmE). As in AmE, prominence was found to lengthen N, but to reduce V-nasalization, enhancing N’s nasality and V’s orality, respectively (paradigmatic contrast enhancement). But the prominence effect in CVN was more robust than that in AmE. Again similar to findings in AmE, boundary induced a reduction of N-duration and V-nasalization phrase-initially (syntagmatic contrast enhancement), and increased the nasality of both C and V phrasefinally. But AusE showed some differences in terms of the magnitude of V nasalization and N duration. The results suggest that the linguistic contrast enhancements underlie prosodic-structure modulation of coarticulatory V-nasalization in comparable ways across dialects, while the fine phonetic detail indicates that the phonetics-prosody interplay is internalized in the individual dialect’s phonetic grammar.
  • Kamermans, K. L., Pouw, W., Fassi, L., Aslanidou, A., Paas, F., & Hostetter, A. B. (2019). The role of gesture as simulated action in reinterpretation of mental imagery. Acta Psychologica, 197, 131-142. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.05.004.

    Abstract

    In two experiments, we examined the role of gesture in reinterpreting a mental image. In Experiment 1, we found that participants gestured more about a figure they had learned through manual exploration than about a figure they had learned through vision. This supports claims that gestures emerge from the activation of perception-relevant actions during mental imagery. In Experiment 2, we investigated whether such gestures have a causal role in affecting the quality of mental imagery. Participants were randomly assigned to gesture, not gesture, or engage in a manual interference task as they attempted to reinterpret a figure they had learned through manual exploration. We found that manual interference significantly impaired participants' success on the task. Taken together, these results suggest that gestures reflect mental imaginings of interactions with a mental image and that these imaginings are critically important for mental manipulation and reinterpretation of that image. However, our results suggest that enacting the imagined movements in gesture is not critically important on this particular task.
  • Kamermans, K. L., Pouw, W., Mast, F. W., & Paas, F. (2019). Reinterpretation in visual imagery is possible without visual cues: A validation of previous research. Psychological Research, 83(6), 1237-1250. doi:10.1007/s00426-017-0956-5.

    Abstract

    Is visual reinterpretation of bistable figures (e.g., duck/rabbit figure) in visual imagery possible? Current consensus suggests that it is in principle possible because of converging evidence of quasi-pictorial functioning of visual imagery. Yet, studies that have directly tested and found evidence for reinterpretation in visual imagery, allow for the possibility that reinterpretation was already achieved during memorization of the figure(s). One study resolved this issue, providing evidence for reinterpretation in visual imagery (Mast and Kosslyn, Cognition 86:57-70, 2002). However, participants in that study performed reinterpretations with aid of visual cues. Hence, reinterpretation was not performed with mental imagery alone. Therefore, in this study we assessed the possibility of reinterpretation without visual support. We further explored the possible role of haptic cues to assess the multimodal nature of mental imagery. Fifty-three participants were consecutively presented three to be remembered bistable 2-D figures (reinterpretable when rotated 180 degrees), two of which were visually inspected and one was explored hapticly. After memorization of the figures, a visually bistable exemplar figure was presented to ensure understanding of the concept of visual bistability. During recall, 11 participants (out of 36; 30.6%) who did not spot bistability during memorization successfully performed reinterpretations when instructed to mentally rotate their visual image, but additional haptic cues during mental imagery did not inflate reinterpretation ability. This study validates previous findings that reinterpretation in visual imagery is possible.
  • Kaufeld, G., Naumann, W., Meyer, A. S., Bosker, H. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Contextual speech rate influences morphosyntactic prediction and integration. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1701691.

    Abstract

    Understanding spoken language requires the integration and weighting of multiple cues, and may call on cue integration mechanisms that have been studied in other areas of perception. In the current study, we used eye-tracking (visual-world paradigm) to examine how contextual speech rate (a lower-level, perceptual cue) and morphosyntactic knowledge (a higher-level, linguistic cue) are iteratively combined and integrated. Results indicate that participants used contextual rate information immediately, which we interpret as evidence of perceptual inference and the generation of predictions about upcoming morphosyntactic information. Additionally, we observed that early rate effects remained active in the presence of later conflicting lexical information. This result demonstrates that (1) contextual speech rate functions as a cue to morphosyntactic inferences, even in the presence of subsequent disambiguating information; and (2) listeners iteratively use multiple sources of information to draw inferences and generate predictions during speech comprehension. We discuss the implication of these demonstrations for theories of language processing
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). Knowledge-based and signal-based cues are weighted flexibly during spoken language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xlm0000744.

    Abstract

    During spoken language comprehension, listeners make use of both knowledge-based and signal-based sources of information, but little is known about how cues from these distinct levels of representational hierarchy are weighted and integrated online. In an eye-tracking experiment using the visual world paradigm, we investigated the flexible weighting and integration of morphosyntactic gender marking (a knowledge-based cue) and contextual speech rate (a signal-based cue). We observed that participants used the morphosyntactic cue immediately to make predictions about upcoming referents, even in the presence of uncertainty about the cue’s reliability. Moreover, we found speech rate normalization effects in participants’ gaze patterns even in the presence of preceding morphosyntactic information. These results demonstrate that cues are weighted and integrated flexibly online, rather than adhering to a strict hierarchy. We further found rate normalization effects in the looking behavior of participants who showed a strong behavioral preference for the morphosyntactic gender cue. This indicates that rate normalization effects are robust and potentially automatic. We discuss these results in light of theories of cue integration and the two-stage model of acoustic context effects
  • Kaufhold, S. P., & Van Leeuwen, E. J. C. (2019). Why intergroup variation matters for understanding behaviour. Biology Letters, 15(11): 20190695. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2019.0695.

    Abstract

    Intergroup variation (IGV) refers to variation between different groups of the same species. While its existence in the behavioural realm has been expected and evidenced, the potential effects of IGV are rarely considered in studies that aim to shed light on the evolutionary origins of human socio-cognition, especially in our closest living relatives—the great apes. Here, by taking chimpanzees as a point of reference, we argue that (i) IGV could plausibly explain inconsistent research findings across numerous topics of inquiry (experimental/behavioural studies on chimpanzees), (ii) understanding the evolutionary origins of behaviour requires an accurate assessment of species' modes of behaving across different socio-ecological contexts, which necessitates a reliable estimation of variation across intraspecific groups, and (iii) IGV in the behavioural realm is increasingly likely to be expected owing to the progressive identification of non-human animal cultures. With these points, and by extrapolating from chimpanzees to generic guidelines, we aim to encourage researchers to explicitly consider IGV as an explanatory variable in future studies attempting to understand the socio-cognitive and evolutionary determinants of behaviour in group-living animals.
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2019). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830919880217.

    Abstract

    Prominence, the expression of informational weight within utterances, can be signaled by prosodic highlighting (head-prominence, as in English) or by position (as in Korean edge-prominence). Prominence confers processing advantages, even if conveyed only by discourse manipulations. Here we compared processing of prominence in English and Korean, using a task that indexes processing success, namely recognition memory. In each language, participants’ memory was tested for target words heard in sentences in which they were prominent due to prosody, position, both or neither. Prominence produced recall advantage, but the relative effects differed across language. For Korean listeners the positional advantage was greater, but for English listeners prosodic and syntactic prominence had equivalent and additive effects. In a further experiment semantic and phonological foils tested depth of processing of the recall targets. Both foil types were correctly rejected, suggesting that semantic processing had not reached the level at which word form was no longer available. Together the results suggest that prominence processing is primarily driven by universal effects of information structure; but language-specific differences in frequency of experience prompt different relative advantages of prominence signal types. Processing efficiency increases in each case, however, creating more accurate and more rapidly contactable memory representations.
  • Kempen, G., & Harbusch, K. (2019). Mutual attraction between high-frequency verbs and clause types with finite verbs in early positions: Corpus evidence from spoken English, Dutch, and German. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(9), 1140-1151. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1642498.

    Abstract

    We report a hitherto unknown statistical relationship between the corpus frequency of finite verbs and their fixed linear positions (early vs. late) in finite clauses of English, Dutch, and German. Compared to the overall frequency distribution of verb lemmas in the corpora, high-frequency finite verbs are overused in main clauses, at the expense of nonfinite verbs. This finite versus nonfinite split of high-frequency verbs is basically absent from subordinate clauses. Furthermore, this “main-clause bias” (MCB) of high-frequency verbs is more prominent in German and Dutch (SOV languages) than in English (an SVO language). We attribute the MCB and its varying effect sizes to faster accessibility of high-frequency finite verbs, which (1) increases the probability for these verbs to land in clauses mandating early verb placement, and (2) boosts the activation of clause plans that assign verbs to early linear positions (in casu: clauses with SVO as opposed to SOV order).

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1642498_sm1530.pdf
  • Wu, Q., Kidd, E., & Goodhew, S. C. (2019). The spatial mapping of concepts in English and Mandarin. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 31(7), 703-724. doi:10.1080/20445911.2019.1663354.

    Abstract

    English speakers have been shown to map abstract concepts in space, which occurs on both the vertical and horizontal dimensions. For example, words such as God are associated with up and right spatial locations, and words such as Satan with down and left. If the tendency to map concepts in space is a universal property of human cognition, then it is likely that such mappings may be at least partly culturally-specific, since many concepts are themselves language-specific and therefore cultural conventions. Here we investigated whether Mandarin speakers report spatial mapping of concepts, and how these mappings compare with English speakers (i.e. are words with the same meaning associated with the same spatial locations). Across two studies, results showed that both native English and Mandarin speakers reported spatial mapping of concepts, and that the distribution of mappings was highly similar for the two groups. Theoretical implications are discussed.
  • Kim, N., Brehm, L., & Yoshida, M. (2019). The online processing of noun phrase ellipsis and mechanisms of antecedent retrieval. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(2), 190-213. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1513542.

    Abstract

    We investigate whether grammatical information is accessed in processing noun phrase ellipsis (NPE) and other anaphoric constructions. The first experiment used an agreement attraction paradigm to reveal that ungrammatical plural verbs following NPE with an antecedent containing a plural modifier (e.g. Derek’s key to the boxes … and Mary’s_ probably *are safe in the drawer) show similar facilitation to non-elided NPs. The second experiment used the same paradigm to examine a coordination construction without anaphoric elements, and the third examined anaphoric one. Agreement attraction was not observed in either experiment, suggesting that processing NPE is different from processing non-anaphoric coordination constructions or anaphoric one. Taken together, the results indicate that the parser is sensitive to grammatical distinctions at the ellipsis site where it prioritises and retrieves the head at the initial stage of processing and retrieves the local noun within the modifier phrase only when it is necessary in parsing NPE.

    Supplementary material

    Kim_Brehm_Yoshida_2018sup.pdf
  • De Kleijn, R., Wijnen, M., & Poletiek, F. H. (2019). The effect of context-dependent information and sentence constructions on perceived humanness of an agent in a Turing test. Knowledge-Based Systems, 163, 794-799. doi:10.1016/j.knosys.2018.10.006.

    Abstract

    In a Turing test, a judge decides whether their conversation partner is either a machine or human. What cues does the judge use to determine this? In particular, are presumably unique features of human language actually perceived as humanlike? Participants rated the humanness of a set of sentences that were manipulated for grammatical construction: linear right-branching or hierarchical center-embedded and their plausibility with regard to world knowledge. We found that center-embedded sentences are perceived as less humanlike than right-branching sentences and more plausible sentences are regarded as more humanlike. However, the effect of plausibility of the sentence on perceived humanness is smaller for center-embedded sentences than for right-branching sentences. Participants also rated a conversation with either correct or incorrect use of the context by the agent. No effect of context use was found. Also, participants rated a full transcript of either a real human or a real chatbot, and we found that chatbots were reliably perceived as less humanlike than real humans, in line with our expectation. We did, however, find individual differences between chatbots and humans.
  • Klingler, E., De la Rossa, A., Fièvre, S., Devaraju, K., Abe, P., & Jabaudon, D. (2019). A translaminar genetic logic for the circuit identity of intracortically projecting neurons. Current Biology, 29(2), 332-339. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.071.

    Abstract

    Neurons of the neocortex are organized into six radial layers, which have appeared at different times during evolution, with the superficial layers representing a more recent acquisition. Input to the neocortex predominantly reaches superficial layers (SL, i.e., layers (L) 2-4), while output is generated in deep layers (DL, i.e., L5-6) [1]. Intracortical connections, which bridge input and output pathways, are key components of cortical circuits because they allow the propagation and processing of information within the neocortex. Two main types of intracortically projecting neurons (ICPN) can be distinguished by their axonal features: L4 spiny stellate neurons (SSN) with short axons projecting locally within cortical columns [2, 3, 4, 5], and SL and DL long-range projection neurons, including callosally projecting neurons (CPNSL and CPNDL) [5, 6]. Here, we investigate the molecular hallmarks that distinguish SSN, CPNSL, and CPNDL and relate their transcriptional signatures with their output connectivity. Specifically, taking advantage of the presence of CPN in both SL and DL, we identify lamina-independent genetic hallmarks of a constant projection motif (i.e., interhemispheric projection). By performing unbiased transcriptomic comparisons between CPNSL, CPNDL and SSN, we provide specific molecular profiles for each of these populations and show that target identity supersedes laminar position in defining ICPN transcriptional diversity. Together, these findings reveal a projection-based organization of transcriptional programs across cortical layers, which we propose reflects conserved strategy to protect canonical circuit structure (and hence function) across a diverse range of neuroanatomies.

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  • Kochari, A., & Flecken, M. (2019). Lexical prediction in language comprehension: A replication study of grammatical gender effects in Dutch. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(2), 239-253. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1524500.

    Abstract

    An important question in predictive language processing is the extent to which prediction effects can reliably be measured on pre-nominal material (e.g. articles before nouns). Here, we present a large sample (N = 58) close replication of a study by Otten and van Berkum (2009). They report ERP modulations in relation to the predictability of nouns in sentences, measured on gender-marked Dutch articles. We used nearly identical materials, procedures, and data analysis steps. We fail to replicate the original effect, but do observe a pattern consistent with the original data. Methodological differences between our replication and the original study that could potentially have contributed to the diverging results are discussed. In addition, we discuss the suitability of Dutch gender-marked determiners as a test-case for future studies of pre-activation of lexical items.
  • Koppen, K., Ernestus, M., & Van Mulken, M. (2019). The influence of social distance on speech behavior: Formality variation in casual speech. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 15(1), 139-165. doi:10.1515/cllt-2016-0056.

    Abstract

    An important dimension of linguistic variation is formality. This study investigates the role of social distance between interlocutors. Twenty-five native Dutch speakers retold eight short films to confederates, who acted either formally or informally. Speakers were familiarized with the informal confederates, whereas the formal confederates remained strangers. Results show that the two types of interlocutors elicited different versions of the same stories. Formal interlocutors (large social distance) elicited lower articulation rates, and more nouns and prepositions, both indicators of explicit information. Speakers addressing interlocutors to whom social distance was small, however, provided more explicit information with an involved character (i.e. adjectives with subjective meanings). They also used the word and more often as a gap filler or as a way to keep the floor. Furthermore, they were more likely to laugh and to use more interjections, first-person pronouns and direct speech, which are all indicators of involvement, empathy and subjectivity.

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  • De Kovel, C. G. F., Aftanas, L., Aleman, A., Alexander-Bloch, A. F., Baune, B. T., Brack, I., Bülow, R., Filho, G. B., Carballedo, A., Connolly, C. G., Cullen, K. R., Dannlowski, U., Davey, C. G., Dima, D., Dohm, K., Erwin-Grabner, T., Frodl, T., Fu, C. H., Hall, G. B., Glahn, D. C. and 58 moreDe Kovel, C. G. F., Aftanas, L., Aleman, A., Alexander-Bloch, A. F., Baune, B. T., Brack, I., Bülow, R., Filho, G. B., Carballedo, A., Connolly, C. G., Cullen, K. R., Dannlowski, U., Davey, C. G., Dima, D., Dohm, K., Erwin-Grabner, T., Frodl, T., Fu, C. H., Hall, G. B., Glahn, D. C., Godlewska, B., Gotlib, I. H., Goya-Maldonado, R., Grabe, H. J., Groenewold, N. A., Grotegerd, D., Gruber, O., Harris, M. A., Harrison, B. J., Hatton, S. N., Hickie, I. B., Ho, T. C., Jahanshad, N., Kircher, T., Krämer, B., Krug, A., Lagopoulos, J., Leehr, E. J., Li, M., MacMaster, F. P., MacQueen, G., McIntosh, A. M., McLellan, Q., Medland, S. E., Mueller, B. A., Nenadic, I., Osipov, E., Papmeyer, M., Portella, M. J., Reneman, L., Rosa, P. G., Sacchet, M. D., Schnell, K., Schrantee, A., Sim, K., Simulionyte, E., Sindermann, L., Singh, A., Stein, D. J., Ubani, B. N., der Wee, N. J. V., der Werff, S. J. V., Veer, I. M., Vives-Gilabert, Y., Völzke, H., Walter, H., Walter, M., Schreiner, M. W., Whalley, H., Winter, N., Wittfeld, K., Yang, T. T., Yüksel, D., Zaremba, D., Thompson, P. M., Veltman, D. J., Schmaal, L., & Francks, C. (2019). No alterations of brain structural asymmetry in major depressive disorder: An ENIGMA consortium analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 176(12), 1039-1049. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101144.

    Abstract

    Objective: Asymmetry is a subtle but pervasive aspect of the human brain, and it may be altered in several psychiatric conditions. MRI studies have shown subtle differences of brain anatomy between people with major depressive disorder and healthy control subjects, but few studies have specifically examined brain anatomical asymmetry in relation to this disorder, and results from those studies have remained inconclusive. At the functional level, some electroencephalography studies have indicated left fronto-cortical hypoactivity and right parietal hypoactivity in depressive disorders, so aspects of lateralized anatomy may also be affected. The authors used pooled individual-level data from data sets collected around the world to investigate differences in laterality in measures of cortical thickness, cortical surface area, and subcortical volume between individuals with major depression and healthy control subjects. Methods: The authors investigated differences in the laterality of thickness and surface area measures of 34 cerebral cortical regions in 2,256 individuals with major depression and 3,504 control subjects from 31 separate data sets, and they investigated volume asymmetries of eight subcortical structures in 2,540 individuals with major depression and 4,230 control subjects from 32 data sets. T1-weighted MRI data were processed with a single protocol using FreeSurfer and the Desikan-Killiany atlas. The large sample size provided 80% power to detect effects of the order of Cohen’s d=0.1. Results: The largest effect size (Cohen’s d) of major depression diagnosis was 0.085 for the thickness asymmetry of the superior temporal cortex, which was not significant after adjustment for multiple testing. Asymmetry measures were not significantly associated with medication use, acute compared with remitted status, first episode compared with recurrent status, or age at onset. Conclusions: Altered brain macro-anatomical asymmetry may be of little relevance to major depression etiology in most cases.
  • De Kovel, C. G. F., & Francks, C. (2019). The molecular genetics of hand preference revisited. Scientific Reports, 9: 5986. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42515-0.

    Abstract

    Hand preference is a prominent behavioural trait linked to human brain asymmetry. A handful of genetic variants have been reported to associate with hand preference or quantitative measures related to it. Most of these reports were on the basis of limited sample sizes, by current standards for genetic analysis of complex traits. Here we performed a genome-wide association analysis of hand preference in the large, population-based UK Biobank cohort (N = 331,037). We used gene-set enrichment analysis to investigate whether genes involved in visceral asymmetry are particularly relevant to hand preference, following one previous report. We found no evidence supporting any of the previously suggested variants or genes, nor that genes involved in visceral laterality have a role in hand preference. It remains possible that some of the previously reported genes or pathways are relevant to hand preference as assessed in other ways, or else are relevant within specific disorder populations. However, some or all of the earlier findings are likely to be false positives, and none of them appear relevant to hand preference as defined categorically in the general population. Our analysis did produce a small number of novel, significant associations, including one implicating the microtubule-associated gene MAP2 in handedness.
  • De Kovel, C. G. F., Carrion Castillo, A., & Francks, C. (2019). A large-scale population study of early life factors influencing left-handedness. Scientific Reports, 9: 584. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-37423-8.

    Abstract

    Hand preference is a conspicuous variation in human behaviour, with a worldwide proportion of around 90% of people preferring to use the right hand for many tasks, and 10% the left hand. We used the large cohort of the UK biobank (~500,000 participants) to study possible relations between early life factors and adult hand preference. The probability of being left-handed was affected by the year and location of birth, likely due to cultural effects. In addition, hand preference was affected by birthweight, being part of a multiple birth, season of birth, breastfeeding, and sex, with each effect remaining significant after accounting for all others. Analysis of genome-wide genotype data showed that left-handedness was very weakly heritable, but shared no genetic basis with birthweight. Although on average left-handers and right-handers differed for a number of early life factors, all together these factors had only a minimal predictive value for individual hand preference.

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    Supplementary information
  • Krebs, J., Wilbur, R. B., Alday, P. M., & Roehm, D. (2019). The impact of transitional movements and non-manual markings on the disambiguation of locally ambiguous argument structures in Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS). Language and Speech, 62(4), 652-680. doi:10.1177/0023830918801399.

    Abstract

    Previous studies of Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) word-order variations have demonstrated the human processing system’s tendency to interpret a sentence-initial (case-) ambiguous argument as the subject of the clause (“subject preference”). The electroencephalogram study motivating the current report revealed earlier reanalysis effects for object-subject compared to subject-object sentences, in particular, before the start of the movement of the agreement marking sign. The effects were bound to time points prior to when both arguments were referenced in space and/or the transitional hand movement prior to producing the disambiguating sign. Due to the temporal proximity of these time points, it was not clear which visual cues led to disambiguation; that is, whether non-manual markings (body/shoulder/head shift towards the subject position) or the transitional hand movement resolved ambiguity. The present gating study further supports that disambiguation in ÖGS is triggered by cues occurring before the movement of the disambiguating sign. Further, the present study also confirms the presence of the subject preference in ÖGS, showing again that signers and speakers draw on similar strategies during language processing independent of language modality. Although the ultimate role of the visual cues leading to disambiguation (i.e., non-manual markings and transitional movements) requires further investigation, the present study shows that they contribute crucial information about argument structure during online processing. This finding provides strong support for granting these cues some degree of linguistic status (at least in ÖGS).
  • Kuperberg, G., Weber, K., Delaney-Busch, N., Ustine, C., Stillerman, B., Hämäläinen, M., & Lau, E. (2019). Multimodal neuroimaging evidence for looser lexico-semantic connections in schizophrenia. Neuropsychologia, 124, 337-349. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.10.024.

    Abstract

    It has been hypothesized that schizophrenia is characterized by overly broad automatic activity within lexico-semantic networks. We used two complementary neuroimaging techniques, Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), in combination with a highly automatic indirect semantic priming paradigm, to spatiotemporally localize this abnormality in the brain. Eighteen people with schizophrenia and 20 demographically-matched control participants viewed target words (“bell”) preceded by directly related (“church”), indirectly related (“priest”), or unrelated (“pants”) prime words in MEG and fMRI sessions. To minimize top-down processing, the prime was masked, the target appeared only 140ms after prime onset, and participants simply monitored for words within a particular semantic category that appeared in filler trials. Both techniques revealed a significantly larger automatic indirect priming effect in people with schizophrenia than in control participants. MEG temporally localized this enhanced effect to the N400 time window (300-500ms) — the critical stage of accessing meaning from words. fMRI spatially localized the effect to the left temporal fusiform cortex, which plays a role in mapping of orthographic word-form on to meaning. There was no evidence of an enhanced automatic direct semantic priming effect in the schizophrenia group. These findings provide converging neural evidence for abnormally broad highly automatic lexico-semantic activity in schizophrenia. We argue that, rather than arising from an unconstrained spread of automatic activation across semantic memory, this broader automatic lexico-semantic activity stems from looser connections between the form and meaning of words.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S0028393218307310-mmc1.docx
  • Lameira, A. R., Eerola, T., & Ravignani, A. (2019). Coupled whole-body rhythmic entrainment between two chimpanzees. Scientific Reports, 9: 18914. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-55360-y.

    Abstract

    Dance is an icon of human expression. Despite astounding diversity around the world’s cultures and dazzling abundance of reminiscent animal systems, the evolution of dance in the human clade remains obscure. Dance requires individuals to interactively synchronize their whole-body tempo to their partner’s, with near-perfect precision. This capacity is motorically-heavy, engaging multiple neural circuitries, but also dependent on an acute socio-emotional bond between partners. Hitherto, these factors helped explain why no dance forms were present amongst nonhuman primates. Critically, evidence for conjoined full-body rhythmic entrainment in great apes that could help reconstruct possible proto-stages of human dance is still lacking. Here, we report an endogenously-effected case of ritualized dance-like behaviour between two captive chimpanzees – synchronized bipedalism. We submitted video recordings to rigorous time-series analysis and circular statistics. We found that individual step tempo was within the genus’ range of “solo” bipedalism. Between-individual analyses, however, revealed that synchronisation between individuals was non-random, predictable, phase concordant, maintained with instantaneous centi-second precision and jointly regulated, with individuals also taking turns as “pace-makers”. No function was apparent besides the behaviour’s putative positive social affiliation. Our analyses show a first case of spontaneous whole-body entrainment between two ape peers, thus providing tentative empirical evidence for phylogenies of human dance. Human proto-dance, we argue, may have been rooted in mechanisms of social cohesion among small groups that might have granted stress-releasing benefits via gait-synchrony and mutual-touch. An external sound/musical beat may have been initially uninvolved. We discuss dance evolution as driven by ecologically-, socially- and/or culturally-imposed “captivity”.

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  • Larsson, M., Richter, J., & Ravignani, A. (2019). Bipedal steps in the development of rhythmic behavior in humans. Music & Science, 2, 1-14. doi:10.1177/2059204319892617.

    Abstract

    We contrast two related hypotheses of the evolution of dance: H1: Maternal bipedal walking influenced the fetal experience of sound and associated movement patterns; H2: The human transition to bipedal gait produced more isochronous/predictable locomotion sound resulting in early music-like behavior associated with the acoustic advantages conferred by moving bipedally in pace. The cadence of walking is around 120 beats per minute, similar to the tempo of dance and music. Human walking displays long-term constancies. Dyads often subconsciously synchronize steps. The major amplitude component of the step is a distinctly produced beat. Human locomotion influences, and interacts with, emotions, and passive listening to music activates brain motor areas. Across dance-genres the footwork is most often performed in time to the musical beat. Brain development is largely shaped by early sensory experience, with hearing developed from week 18 of gestation. Newborns reacts to sounds, melodies, and rhythmic poems to which they have been exposed in utero. If the sound and vibrations produced by footfalls of a walking mother are transmitted to the fetus in coordination with the cadence of the motion, a connection between isochronous sound and rhythmical movement may be developed. Rhythmical sounds of the human mother locomotion differ substantially from that of nonhuman primates, while the maternal heartbeat heard is likely to have a similar isochronous character across primates, suggesting a relatively more influential role of footfall in the development of rhythmic/musical abilities in humans. Associations of gait, music, and dance are numerous. The apparent absence of musical and rhythmic abilities in nonhuman primates, which display little bipedal locomotion, corroborates that bipedal gait may be linked to the development of rhythmic abilities in humans. Bipedal stimuli in utero may primarily boost the ontogenetic development. The acoustical advantage hypothesis proposes a mechanism in the phylogenetic development.
  • Lattenkamp, E. Z., Shields, S. M., Schutte, M., Richter, J., Linnenschmidt, M., Vernes, S. C., & Wiegrebe, L. (2019). The vocal repertoire of pale spear-nosed bats in a social roosting context. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7: 116. doi:10.3389/fevo.2019.00116.

    Abstract

    Commonly known for their ability to echolocate, bats also use a wide variety of social vocalizations to communicate with one another. However, the full vocal repertoires of relatively few bat species have been studied thus far. The present study examined the vocal repertoire of the pale spear-nosed bat, Phyllostomus discolor, in a social roosting context. Based on visual examination of spectrograms and subsequent quantitative analysis of syllables, eight distinct syllable classes were defined, and their prevalence in different behavioral contexts was examined. Four more syllable classes were observed in low numbers and are described here as well. These results show that P. discolor possesses a rich vocal repertoire, which includes vocalizations comparable to previously reported repertoires of other bat species as well as vocalizations previously undescribed. Our data provide detailed information about the temporal and spectral characteristics of syllables emitted by P. discolor, allowing for a better understanding of the communicative system and related behaviors of this species. Furthermore, this vocal repertoire will serve as a basis for future research using P. discolor as a model organism for vocal communication and vocal learning and it will allow for comparative studies between bat species.

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    Supplementary material
  • Lev-Ari, S. (2019). People with larger social networks are better at predicting what someone will say but not how they will say it. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(1), 101-114. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1508733.

    Abstract

    Prediction of upcoming words facilitates language processing. Individual differences in social experience, however, might influence prediction ability by influencing input variability and representativeness. This paper explores how individual differences in social network size influence prediction and how this influence differs across linguistic levels. In Experiment 1, participants predicted likely sentence completions from several plausible endings differing in meaning or only form (e.g. work vs. job). In Experiment 2, participants’ pupil size was measured as they listened to sentences whose ending was the dominant one or deviated from it in either meaning or form. Both experiments show that people with larger social networks are better at predicting upcoming meanings but not the form they would take. The results thus show that people with different social experience process language differently, and shed light on how social dynamics interact with the structure of the linguistic level to influence learning of linguistic patterns.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1508733_sm8698.docx
  • Levelt, W. J. M. (2019). How Speech Evolved: Some Historical Remarks. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(8S), 2926-2931. doi:10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-CSMC7-19-0017.

    Abstract

    The evolution of speech and language has been a returning topic in the language sciences since the so-called “cognitive revolution.”
  • Levelt, W. J. M. (2019). On empirical methodology, constraints, and hierarchy in artificial grammar learning. Topics in Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/tops.12441.

    Abstract

    This paper considers the AGL literature from a psycholinguistic perspective. It first presents a taxonomy of the experimental familiarization test procedures used, which is followed by a consideration of shortcomings and potential improvements of the empirical methodology. It then turns to reconsidering the issue of grammar learning from the point of view of acquiring constraints, instead of the traditional AGL approach in terms of acquiring sets of rewrite rules. This is, in particular, a natural way of handling long‐distance dependences. The final section addresses an underdeveloped issue in the AGL literature, namely how to detect latent hierarchical structure in AGL response patterns.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2019). Natural forms of purposeful interaction among humans: What makes interaction effective? In K. A. Gluck, & J. E. Laird (Eds.), Interactive task learning: Humans, robots, and agents acquiring new tasks through natural interactions (pp. 111-126). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Toni, I. (2019). Key issues and future directions: Interactional foundations of language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 257-261). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2019). Interactional foundations of language: The interaction engine hypothesis. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 189-200). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Levshina, N. (2019). Token-based typology and word order entropy: A study based on universal dependencies. Linguistic Typology, 23(3), 533-572. doi:10.1515/lingty-2019-0025.

    Abstract

    The present paper discusses the benefits and challenges of token-based typology, which takes into account the frequencies of words and constructions in language use. This approach makes it possible to introduce new criteria for language classification, which would be difficult or impossible to achieve with the traditional, type-based approach. This point is illustrated by several quantitative studies of word order variation, which can be measured as entropy at different levels of granularity. I argue that this variation can be explained by general functional mechanisms and pressures, which manifest themselves in language use, such as optimization of processing (including avoidance of ambiguity) and grammaticalization of predictable units occurring in chunks. The case studies are based on multilingual corpora, which have been parsed using the Universal Dependencies annotation scheme.

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    lingty-2019-0025ad.zip
  • Liang, S., Li, Y., Zhang, Z., Kong, X., Wang, Q., Deng, W., Li, X., Zhao, L., Li, M., Meng, Y., Huang, F., Ma, X., Li, X.-m., Greenshaw, A. J., Shao, J., & Li, T. (2019). Classification of first-episode schizophrenia using multimodal brain features: A combined structural and diffusion imaging study. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 45(3), 591-599. doi:10.1093/schbul/sby091.

    Abstract

    Schizophrenia is a common and complex mental disorder with neuroimaging alterations. Recent neuroanatomical pattern recognition studies attempted to distinguish individuals with schizophrenia by structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). 1, 2 Applications of cutting-edge machine learning approaches in structural neuroimaging studies have revealed potential pathways to classification of schizophrenia based on regional gray matter volume (GMV) or density or cortical thickness. 3–5 Additionally, cortical folding may have high discriminatory value in correctly identifying symptom severity in schizophrenia. 6 Regional GMV and cortical thickness have also been combined in attempts to differentiate individuals with schizophrenia from healthy controls (HCs). 7 Applications of machine learning algorithms to diffusion imaging data analysis to predict individuals with first-episode schizophrenia (FES) have achieved encouraging accuracy. 8–10 White matter (WM) abnormalities in schizophrenia as estimated by DTI appear to be present in the early stage of the disorder, most likely reflecting the developmental stage of the sample of interest.

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  • Liang, S., Wang, Q., Kong, X., Deng, W., Yang, X., Li, X., Zhang, Z., Zhang, J., Zhang, C., Li, X.-m., Ma, X., Shao, J., Greenshaw, A. J., & Li, T. (2019). White matter abnormalities in major depression bibotypes identified by Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Neuroscience Bulletin, 35(5), 867-876. doi:10.1007/s12264-019-00381-w.

    Abstract

    Identifying data-driven biotypes of major depressive disorder (MDD) has promise for the clarification of diagnostic heterogeneity. However, few studies have focused on white-matter abnormalities for MDD subtyping. This study included 116 patients with MDD and 118 demographically-matched healthy controls assessed by diffusion tensor imaging and neurocognitive evaluation. Hierarchical clustering was applied to the major fiber tracts, in conjunction with tract-based spatial statistics, to reveal white-matter alterations associated with MDD. Clinical and neurocognitive differences were compared between identified subgroups and healthy controls. With fractional anisotropy extracted from 20 fiber tracts, cluster analysis revealed 3 subgroups based on the patterns of abnormalities. Patients in each subgroup versus healthy controls showed a stepwise pattern of white-matter alterations as follows: subgroup 1 (25.9% of patient sample), widespread white-matter disruption; subgroup 2 (43.1% of patient sample), intermediate and more localized abnormalities in aspects of the corpus callosum and left cingulate; and subgroup 3 (31.0% of patient sample), possible mild alterations, but no statistically significant tract disruption after controlling for family-wise error. The neurocognitive impairment in each subgroup accompanied the white-matter alterations: subgroup 1, deficits in sustained attention and delayed memory; subgroup 2, dysfunction in delayed memory; and subgroup 3, no significant deficits. Three subtypes of white-matter abnormality exist in individuals with major depression, those having widespread abnormalities suffering more neurocognitive impairments, which may provide evidence for parsing the heterogeneity of the disorder and help optimize type-specific treatment approaches.

    Supplementary material

    12264_2019_381_MOESM1_ESM.pdf
  • Linnér, R. K., Biroli, P., Kong, E., Meddens, S. F. W., Wedow, R., Fontana, M. A., Lebreton, M., Tino, S. P., Abdellaoui, A., Hammerschlag, A. R., Nivard, M. G., Okbay, A., Rietveld, C. A., Timshel, P. N., Trzaskowski, M., De Vlaming, R., Zünd, C. L., Bao, Y., Buzdugan, L., Caplin, A. H., Chen, C.-Y., Eibich, P., Fontanillas, P., Gonzalez, J. R., Joshi, P. K., Karhunen, V., Kleinman, A., Levin, R. Z., Lill, C. M., Meddens, G. A., Muntané, G., Sanchez-Roige, S., Van Rooij, F. J., Taskesen, E., Wu, Y., Zhang, F., 23and Me Research Team, eQTLgen Consortium, International Cannabis Consortium, Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, Auton, A., Boardman, J. D., Clark, D. W., Conlin, A., Dolan, C. C., Fischbacher, U., Groenen, P. J. F., Harris, K. M., Hasler, G., Hofman, A., Ikram, M. A., Jain, S., Karlsson, R., Kessler, R. C., Kooyman, M., MacKillop, J., Männikkö, M., Morcillo-Suarez, C., McQueen, M. B., Schmidt, K. M., Smart, M. C., Sutter, M., Thurik, A. R., Uitterlinden, A. G., White, J., De Wit, H., Yang, J., Bertram, L., Boomsma, D. I., Esko, T., Fehr, E., Hinds, D. A., Johannesson, M., Kumari, M., Laibson, D., Magnusson, P. K. E., Meyer, M. N., Navarro, A., Palmer, A. A., Pers, T. H., Posthuma, D., Schunk, D., Stein, M. B., Svento, R., Tiemeier, H., Timmers, P. R. H. J., Turley, P., Ursano, R. J., Wagner, G. G., Wilson, J. F., Gratten, J., Lee, J. J., Cesarini, D., Benjamin, D. J., Koellinger, P. D., & Beauchamp, J. P. (2019). Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in over 1 million individuals identify hundreds of loci and shared genetic influences. Nature Genetics, 51, 245-257. doi:10.1038/s41588-018-0309-3.
  • Majid, A. (2019). Preface. In L. J. Speed, C. O'Meara, L. San Roque, & A. Majid (Eds.), Perception Metaphors (pp. vii-viii). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Mak, M., & Willems, R. M. (2019). Mental simulation during literary reading: Individual differences revealed with eye-tracking. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 511-535. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1552007.

    Abstract

    People engage in simulation when reading literary narratives. In this study, we tried to pinpoint how different kinds of simulation (perceptual and motor simulation, mentalising) affect reading behaviour. Eye-tracking (gaze durations, regression probability) and questionnaire data were collected from 102 participants, who read three literary short stories. In a pre-test, 90 additional participants indicated which parts of the stories were high in one of the three kinds of simulation-eliciting content. The results show that motor simulation reduces gaze duration (faster reading), whereas perceptual simulation and mentalising increase gaze duration (slower reading). Individual differences in the effect of simulation on gaze duration were found, which were related to individual differences in aspects of story world absorption and story appreciation. These findings suggest fundamental differences between different kinds of simulation and confirm the role of simulation in absorption and appreciation.
  • Mamus, E., Rissman, L., Majid, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Effects of blindfolding on verbal and gestural expression of path in auditory motion events. In A. K. Goel, C. M. Seifert, & C. C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 2275-2281). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Studies have claimed that blind people’s spatial representations are different from sighted people, and blind people display superior auditory processing. Due to the nature of auditory and haptic information, it has been proposed that blind people have spatial representations that are more sequential than sighted people. Even the temporary loss of sight—such as through blindfolding—can affect spatial representations, but not much research has been done on this topic. We compared blindfolded and sighted people’s linguistic spatial expressions and non-linguistic localization accuracy to test how blindfolding affects the representation of path in auditory motion events. We found that blindfolded people were as good as sighted people when localizing simple sounds, but they outperformed sighted people when localizing auditory motion events. Blindfolded people’s path related speech also included more sequential, and less holistic elements. Our results indicate that even temporary loss of sight influences spatial representations of auditory motion events
  • Mantegna, F., Hintz, F., Ostarek, M., Alday, P. M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Distinguishing integration and prediction accounts of ERP N400 modulations in language processing through experimental design. Neuropsychologia, 134: 107199. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.107199.

    Abstract

    Prediction of upcoming input is thought to be a main characteristic of language processing (e.g. Altmann & Mirkovic, 2009; Dell & Chang, 2014; Federmeier, 2007; Ferreira & Chantavarin, 2018; Pickering & Gambi, 2018; Hale, 2001; Hickok, 2012; Huettig 2015; Kuperberg & Jaeger, 2016; Levy, 2008; Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2016; Pickering & Garrod, 2013; Van Petten & Luka, 2012). One of the main pillars of experimental support for this notion comes from studies that have attempted to measure electrophysiological markers of prediction when participants read or listened to sentences ending in highly predictable words. The N400, a negative-going and centro-parietally distributed component of the ERP occurring approximately 400ms after (target) word onset, has been frequently interpreted as indexing prediction of the word (or the semantic representations and/or the phonological form of the predicted word, see Kutas & Federmeier, 2011; Nieuwland, 2019; Van Petten & Luka, 2012; for review). A major difficulty for interpreting N400 effects in language processing however is that it has been difficult to establish whether N400 target word modulations conclusively reflect prediction rather than (at least partly) ease of integration. In the present exploratory study, we attempted to distinguish lexical prediction (i.e. ‘top-down’ activation) from lexical integration (i.e. ‘bottom-up’ activation) accounts of ERP N400 modulations in language processing.
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2019). Predicate learning in neural systems: Using oscillations to discover latent structure. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 29, 77-83. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008.

    Abstract

    Humans learn to represent complex structures (e.g. natural language, music, mathematics) from experience with their environments. Often such structures are latent, hidden, or not encoded in statistics about sensory representations alone. Accounts of human cognition have long emphasized the importance of structured representations, yet the majority of contemporary neural networks do not learn structure from experience. Here, we describe one way that structured, functionally symbolic representations can be instantiated in an artificial neural network. Then, we describe how such latent structures (viz. predicates) can be learned from experience with unstructured data. Our approach exploits two principles from psychology and neuroscience: comparison of representations, and the naturally occurring dynamic properties of distributed computing across neuronal assemblies (viz. neural oscillations). We discuss how the ability to learn predicates from experience, to represent information compositionally, and to extrapolate knowledge to unseen data is core to understanding and modeling the most complex human behaviors (e.g. relational reasoning, analogy, language processing, game play).
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2019). Tensors and compositionality in neural systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375(1791): 20190306. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0306.

    Abstract

    Neither neurobiological nor process models of meaning composition specify the operator through which constituent parts are bound together into compositional structures. In this paper, we argue that a neurophysiological computation system cannot achieve the compositionality exhibited in human thought and language if it were to rely on a multiplicative operator to perform binding, as the tensor product (TP)-based systems that have been widely adopted in cognitive science, neuroscience and artificial intelligence do. We show via simulation and two behavioural experiments that TPs violate variable-value independence, but human behaviour does not. Specifically, TPs fail to capture that in the statements fuzzy cactus and fuzzy penguin, both cactus and penguin are predicated by fuzzy(x) and belong to the set of fuzzy things, rendering these arguments similar to each other. Consistent with that thesis, people judged arguments that shared the same role to be similar, even when those arguments themselves (e.g., cacti and penguins) were judged to be dissimilar when in isolation. By contrast, the similarity of the TPs representing fuzzy(cactus) and fuzzy(penguin) was determined by the similarity of the arguments, which in this case approaches zero. Based on these results, we argue that neural systems that use TPs for binding cannot approximate how the human mind and brain represent compositional information during processing. We describe a contrasting binding mechanism that any physiological or artificial neural system could use to maintain independence between a role and its argument, a prerequisite for compositionality and, thus, for instantiating the expressive power of human thought and language in a neural system.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental Material
  • Martin, A. E., & Baggio, G. (2019). Modeling meaning composition from formalism to mechanism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20190298. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0298.

    Abstract

    Human thought and language have extraordinary expressive power because meaningful parts can be assembled into more complex semantic structures. This partly underlies our ability to compose meanings into endlessly novel configurations, and sets us apart from other species and current computing devices. Crucially, human behaviour, including language use and linguistic data, indicates that composing parts into complex structures does not threaten the existence of constituent parts as independent units in the system: parts and wholes exist simultaneously yet independently from one another in the mind and brain. This independence is evident in human behaviour, but it seems at odds with what is known about the brain's exquisite sensitivity to statistical patterns: everyday language use is productive and expressive precisely because it can go beyond statistical regularities. Formal theories in philosophy and linguistics explain this fact by assuming that language and thought are compositional: systems of representations that separate a variable (or role) from its values (fillers), such that the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the values assigned to the variables. The debate on whether and how compositional systems could be implemented in minds, brains and machines remains vigorous. However, it has not yet resulted in mechanistic models of semantic composition: how, then, are the constituents of thoughts and sentences put and held together? We review and discuss current efforts at understanding this problem, and we chart possible routes for future research.
  • Martinez-Conde, S., Alexander, R. G., Blum, D., Britton, N., Lipska, B. K., Quirk, G. J., Swiss, J. I., Willems, R. M., & Macknik, S. L. (2019). The storytelling brain: How neuroscience stories help bridge the gap between research and society. The Journal of Neuroscience, 39(42), 8285-8290. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1180-19.2019.

    Abstract

    Active communication between researchers and society is necessary for the scientific community’s involvement in developing sciencebased policies. This need is recognized by governmental and funding agencies that compel scientists to increase their public engagement and disseminate research findings in an accessible fashion. Storytelling techniques can help convey science by engaging people’s imagination and emotions. Yet, many researchers are uncertain about how to approach scientific storytelling, or feel they lack the tools to undertake it. Here we explore some of the techniques intrinsic to crafting scientific narratives, as well as the reasons why scientific storytellingmaybe an optimal way of communicating research to nonspecialists.Wealso point out current communication gaps between science and society, particularly in the context of neurodiverse audiences and those that include neurological and psychiatric patients. Present shortcomings may turn into areas of synergy with the potential to link neuroscience education, research, and advocacy
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). How the tracking of habitual rate influences speech perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(1), 128-138. doi:10.1037/xlm0000579.

    Abstract

    Listeners are known to track statistical regularities in speech. Yet, which temporal cues are encoded is unclear. This study tested effects of talker-specific habitual speech rate and talker-independent average speech rate (heard over a longer period of time) on the perception of the temporal Dutch vowel contrast /A/-/a:/. First, Experiment 1 replicated that slow local (surrounding) speech contexts induce fewer long /a:/ responses than faster contexts. Experiment 2 tested effects of long-term habitual speech rate. One high-rate group listened to ambiguous vowels embedded in `neutral' speech from talker A, intermixed with speech from fast talker B. Another low-rate group listened to the same `neutral' speech from talker A, but to talker B being slow. Between-group comparison of the `neutral' trials showed that the high-rate group demonstrated a lower proportion of /a:/ responses, indicating that talker A's habitual speech rate sounded slower when B was faster. In Experiment 3, both talkers produced speech at both rates, removing the different habitual speech rates of talker A and B, while maintaining the average rate differing between groups. This time no global rate effect was observed. Taken together, the present experiments show that a talker's habitual rate is encoded relative to the habitual rate of another talker, carrying implications for episodic and constraint-based models of speech perception.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). Listeners normalize speech for contextual speech rate even without an explicit recognition task. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 146(1), 179-188. doi:10.1121/1.5116004.

    Abstract

    Speech can be produced at different rates. Listeners take this rate variation into account by normalizing vowel duration for contextual speech rate: An ambiguous Dutch word /m?t/ is perceived as short /mAt/ when embedded in a slow context, but long /ma:t/ in a fast context. Whilst some have argued that this rate normalization involves low-level automatic perceptual processing, there is also evidence that it arises at higher-level cognitive processing stages, such as decision making. Prior research on rate-dependent speech perception has only used explicit recognition tasks to investigate the phenomenon, involving both perceptual processing and decision making. This study tested whether speech rate normalization can be observed without explicit decision making, using a cross-modal repetition priming paradigm. Results show that a fast precursor sentence makes an embedded ambiguous prime (/m?t/) sound (implicitly) more /a:/-like, facilitating lexical access to the long target word "maat" in a (explicit) lexical decision task. This result suggests that rate normalization is automatic, taking place even in the absence of an explicit recognition task. Thus, rate normalization is placed within the realm of everyday spoken conversation, where explicit categorization of ambiguous sounds is rare.
  • Maslowski, M. (2019). Fast speech can sound slow: Effects of contextual speech rate on word recognition. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • McKone, E., Wan, L., Pidcock, M., Crookes, K., Reynolds, K., Dawel, A., Kidd, E., & Fiorentini, C. (2019). A critical period for faces: Other-race face recognition is improved by childhood but not adult social contact. Scientific Reports, 9: 12820. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-49202-0.

    Abstract

    Poor recognition of other-race faces is ubiquitous around the world. We resolve a longstanding contradiction in the literature concerning whether interracial social contact improves the other-race effect. For the first time, we measure the age at which contact was experienced. taking advantage of unusual demographics allowing dissociation of childhood from adult contact, results show sufficient childhood contact eliminated poor other-race recognition altogether (confirming inter-country adoption studies). Critically, however, the developmental window for easy acquisition of other-race faces closed by approximately 12 years of age and social contact as an adult — even over several years and involving many other-race friends — produced no improvement. Theoretically, this pattern of developmental change in plasticity mirrors that found in language, suggesting a shared origin grounded in the functional importance of both skills to social communication. Practically, results imply that, where parents wish to ensure their offspring develop the perceptual skills needed to recognise other-race people easily, childhood experience should be encouraged: just as an English-speaking person who moves to France as a child (but not an adult) can easily become a native speaker of French, we can easily become “native recognisers” of other-race faces via natural social exposure obtained in childhood, but not later
  • McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Key issues and future directions: Towards a comprehensive cognitive architecture for language use. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 85-96). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Meyer, A. S., Roelofs, A., & Brehm, L. (2019). Thirty years of Speaking: An introduction to the special issue. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(9), 1073-1084. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1652763.

    Abstract

    Thirty years ago, Pim Levelt published Speaking. During the 10th International Workshop on Language Production held at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen in July 2018, researchers reflected on the impact of the book in the field, developments since its publication, and current research trends. The contributions in this Special Issue are closely related to the presentations given at the workshop. In this editorial, we sketch the research agenda set by Speaking, review how different aspects of this agenda are taken up in the papers in this volume and outline directions for further research.
  • Meyer, L., Sun, Y., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Synchronous, but not entrained: Exogenous and endogenous cortical rhythms of speech and language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1693050.

    Abstract

    Research on speech processing is often focused on a phenomenon termed “entrainment”, whereby the cortex shadows rhythmic acoustic information with oscillatory activity. Entrainment has been observed to a range of rhythms present in speech; in addition, synchronicity with abstract information (e.g. syntactic structures) has been observed. Entrainment accounts face two challenges: First, speech is not exactly rhythmic; second, synchronicity with representations that lack a clear acoustic counterpart has been described. We propose that apparent entrainment does not always result from acoustic information. Rather, internal rhythms may have functionalities in the generation of abstract representations and predictions. While acoustics may often provide punctate opportunities for entrainment, internal rhythms may also live a life of their own to infer and predict information, leading to intrinsic synchronicity – not to be counted as entrainment. This possibility may open up new research avenues in the psycho– and neurolinguistic study of language processing and language development.
  • Mickan, A., McQueen, J. M., & Lemhöfer, K. (2019). Bridging the gap between second language acquisition research and memory science: The case of foreign language attrition. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 397. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00397.

    Abstract

    The field of second language acquisition (SLA) is by nature of its subject a highly interdisciplinary area of research. Learning a (foreign) language, for example, involves encoding new words, consolidating and committing them to long-term memory, and later retrieving them. All of these processes have direct parallels in the domain of human memory and have been thoroughly studied by researchers in that field. Yet, despite these clear links, the two fields have largely developed in parallel and in isolation from one another. The present paper aims to promote more cross-talk between SLA and memory science. We focus on foreign language (FL) attrition as an example of a research topic in SLA where the parallels with memory science are especially apparent. We discuss evidence that suggests that competition between languages is one of the mechanisms of FL attrition, paralleling the interference process thought to underlie forgetting in other domains of human memory. Backed up by concrete suggestions, we advocate the use of paradigms from the memory literature to study these interference effects in the language domain. In doing so, we hope to facilitate future cross-talk between the two fields, and to further our understanding of FL attrition as a memory phenomenon.
  • Middeldorp, C. M., Felix, J. F., Mahajan, A., EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) Consortium, Early Growth Genetics (EGG) consortium, & McCarthy, M. I. (2019). The Early Growth Genetics (EGG) and EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) consortia: Design, results and future prospects. European Journal of Epidemiology, 34(3), 279-300. doi:10.1007/s10654-019-00502-9.

    Abstract

    The impact of many unfavorable childhood traits or diseases, such as low birth weight and mental disorders, is not limited to childhood and adolescence, as they are also associated with poor outcomes in adulthood, such as cardiovascular disease. Insight into the genetic etiology of childhood and adolescent traits and disorders may therefore provide new perspectives, not only on how to improve wellbeing during childhood, but also how to prevent later adverse outcomes. To achieve the sample sizes required for genetic research, the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) and EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) consortia were established. The majority of the participating cohorts are longitudinal population-based samples, but other cohorts with data on early childhood phenotypes are also involved. Cohorts often have a broad focus and collect(ed) data on various somatic and psychiatric traits as well as environmental factors. Genetic variants have been successfully identified for multiple traits, for example, birth weight, atopic dermatitis, childhood BMI, allergic sensitization, and pubertal growth. Furthermore, the results have shown that genetic factors also partly underlie the association with adult traits. As sample sizes are still increasing, it is expected that future analyses will identify additional variants. This, in combination with the development of innovative statistical methods, will provide detailed insight on the mechanisms underlying the transition from childhood to adult disorders. Both consortia welcome new collaborations. Policies and contact details are available from the corresponding authors of this manuscript and/or the consortium websites.
  • Minutjukur, M., Tjitayi, K., Tjitayi, U., & Defina, R. (2019). Pitjantjatjara language change: Some observations and recommendations. Australian Aboriginal Studies, (1), 82-91.
  • Misersky, J., Majid, A., & Snijders, T. M. (2019). Grammatical gender in German influences how role-nouns are interpreted: Evidence from ERPs. Discourse Processes, 56(8), 643-654. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2018.1541382.

    Abstract

    Grammatically masculine role-nouns (e.g., Studenten-masc.‘students’) can refer to men and women, but may favor an interpretation where only men are considered the referent. If true, this has implications for a society aiming to achieve equal representation in the workplace since, for example, job adverts use such role descriptions. To investigate the interpretation of role-nouns, the present ERP study assessed grammatical gender processing in German. Twenty participants read sentences where a role-noun (masculine or feminine) introduced a group of people, followed by a congruent (masculine–men, feminine–women) or incongruent (masculine–women, feminine–men) continuation. Both for feminine-men and masculine-women continuations a P600 (500 to 800 ms) was observed; another positivity was already present from 300 to 500 ms for feminine-men continuations, but critically not for masculine-women continuations. The results imply a male-biased rather than gender-neutral interpretation of the masculine—despite widespread usage of the masculine as a gender-neutral form—suggesting masculine forms are inadequate for representing genders equally.
  • Moisik, S. R., Zhi Yun, D. P., & Dediu, D. (2019). Active adjustment of the cervical spine during pitch production compensates for shape: The ArtiVarK study. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 864-868). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    The anterior lordosis of the cervical spine is thought to contribute to pitch (fo) production by influencing cricoid rotation as a function of larynx height. This study examines the matter of inter-individual variation in cervical spine shape and whether this has an influence on how fo is produced along increasing or decreasing scales, using the ArtiVarK dataset, which contains real-time MRI pitch production data. We find that the cervical spine actively participates in fo production, but the amount of displacement depends on individual shape. In general, anterior spine motion (tending toward cervical lordosis) occurs for low fo, while posterior movement (tending towards cervical kyphosis) occurs for high fo.
  • Monaghan, P., & Roberts, S. G. (2019). Cognitive influences in language evolution: Psycholinguistic predictors of loan word borrowing. Cognition, 186, 147-158. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.02.007.

    Abstract

    Languages change due to social, cultural, and cognitive influences. In this paper, we provide an assessment of these cognitive influences on diachronic change in the vocabulary. Previously, tests of stability and change of vocabulary items have been conducted on small sets of words where diachronic change is imputed from cladistics studies. Here, we show for a substantially larger set of words that stability and change in terms of documented borrowings of words into English and into Dutch can be predicted by psycholinguistic properties of words that reflect their representational fidelity. We found that grammatical category, word length, age of acquisition, and frequency predict borrowing rates, but frequency has a non-linear relationship. Frequency correlates negatively with probability of borrowing for high-frequency words, but positively for low-frequency words. This borrowing evidence documents recent, observable diachronic change in the vocabulary enabling us to distinguish between change associated with transmission during language acquisition and change due to innovations by proficient speakers.
  • Monaghan, P., & Fletcher, M. (2019). Do sound symbolism effects for written words relate to individual phonemes or to phoneme features? Language and Cognition, 11(2), 235-255. doi:10.1017/langcog.2019.20.

    Abstract

    The sound of words has been shown to relate to the meaning that the words denote, an effect that extends beyond morphological properties of the word. Studies of these sound-symbolic relations have described this iconicity in terms of individual phonemes, or alternatively due to acoustic properties (expressed in phonological features) relating to meaning. In this study, we investigated whether individual phonemes or phoneme features best accounted for iconicity effects. We tested 92 participants’ judgements about the appropriateness of 320 nonwords presented in written form, relating to 8 different semantic attributes. For all 8 attributes, individual phonemes fitted participants’ responses better than general phoneme features. These results challenge claims that sound-symbolic effects for visually presented words can access broad, cross-modal associations between sound and meaning, instead the results indicate the operation of individual phoneme to meaning relations. Whether similar effects are found for nonwords presented auditorially remains an open question.
  • Mongelli, V., Meijs, E. L., Van Gaal, S., & Hagoort, P. (2019). No language unification without neural feedback: How awareness affects sentence processing. Neuroimage, 202: 116063. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116063.

    Abstract

    How does the human brain combine a finite number of words to form an infinite variety of sentences? According to the Memory, Unification and Control (MUC) model, sentence processing requires long-range feedback from the left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) to left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC). Single word processing however may only require feedforward propagation of semantic information from sensory regions to LPTC. Here we tested the claim that long-range feedback is required for sentence processing by reducing visual awareness of words using a masking technique. Masking disrupts feedback processing while leaving feedforward processing relatively intact. Previous studies have shown that masked single words still elicit an N400 ERP effect, a neural signature of semantic incongruency. However, whether multiple words can be combined to form a sentence under reduced levels of awareness is controversial. To investigate this issue, we performed two experiments in which we measured electroencephalography (EEG) while 40 subjects performed a masked priming task. Words were presented either successively or simultaneously, thereby forming a short sentence that could be congruent or incongruent with a target picture. This sentence condition was compared with a typical single word condition. In the masked condition we only found an N400 effect for single words, whereas in the unmasked condition we observed an N400 effect for both unmasked sentences and single words. Our findings suggest that long-range feedback processing is required for sentence processing, but not for single word processing.
  • Morgan, T. J. H., Acerbi, A., & Van Leeuwen, E. J. C. (2019). Copy-the-majority of instances or individuals? Two approaches to the majority and their consequences for conformist decision-making. PLoS One, 14(1): e021074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210748.

    Abstract

    Cultural evolution is the product of the psychological mechanisms that underlie individual decision making. One commonly studied learning mechanism is a disproportionate preference for majority opinions, known as conformist transmission. While most theoretical and experimental work approaches the majority in terms of the number of individuals that perform a behaviour or hold a belief, some recent experimental studies approach the majority in terms of the number of instances a behaviour is performed. Here, we use a mathematical model to show that disagreement between these two notions of the majority can arise when behavioural variants are performed at different rates, with different salience or in different contexts (variant overrepresentation) and when a subset of the population act as demonstrators to the whole population (model biases). We also show that because conformist transmission changes the distribution of behaviours in a population, how observers approach the majority can cause populations to diverge, and that this can happen even when the two approaches to the majority agree with regards to which behaviour is in the majority. We discuss these results in light of existing findings, ranging from political extremism on twitter to studies of animal foraging behaviour. We conclude that the factors we considered (variant overrepresentation and model biases) are plausibly widespread. As such, it is important to understand how individuals approach the majority in order to understand the effects of majority influence in cultural evolution.
  • Nayernia, L., Van den Vijver, R., & Indefrey, P. (2019). The influence of orthography on phonemic knowledge: An experimental investigation on German and Persian. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 48(6), 1391-1406. doi:10.1007/s10936-019-09664-9.

    Abstract

    This study investigated whether the phonological representation of a word is modulated by its orthographic representation in case of a mismatch between the two representations. Such a mismatch is found in Persian, where short vowels are represented phonemically but not orthographically. Persian adult literates, Persian adult illiterates, and German adult literates were presented with two auditory tasks, an AX-discrimination task and a reversal task. We assumed that if orthographic representations influence phonological representations, Persian literates should perform worse than Persian illiterates or German literates on items with short vowels in these tasks. The results of the discrimination tasks showed that Persian literates and illiterates as well as German literates were approximately equally competent in discriminating short vowels in Persian words and pseudowords. Persian literates did not well discriminate German words containing phonemes that differed only in vowel length. German literates performed relatively poorly in discriminating German homographic words that differed only in vowel length. Persian illiterates were unable to perform the reversal task in Persian. The results of the other two participant groups in the reversal task showed the predicted poorer performance of Persian literates on Persian items containing short vowels compared to items containing long vowels only. German literates did not show this effect in German. Our results suggest two distinct effects of orthography on phonemic representations: whereas the lack of orthographic representations seems to affect phonemic awareness, homography seems to affect the discriminability of phonemic representations.
  • Nazzi, T., & Cutler, A. (2019). How consonants and vowels shape spoken-language recognition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 5, 25-47. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-011919.

    Abstract

    All languages instantiate a consonant/vowel contrast. This contrast has processing consequences at different levels of spoken-language recognition throughout the lifespan. In adulthood, lexical processing is more strongly associated with consonant than with vowel processing; this has been demonstrated across 13 languages from seven language families and in a variety of auditory lexical-level tasks (deciding whether a spoken input is a word, spotting a real word embedded in a minimal context, reconstructing a word minimally altered into a pseudoword, learning new words or the “words” of a made-up language), as well as in written-word tasks involving phonological processing. In infancy, a consonant advantage in word learning and recognition is found to emerge during development in some languages, though possibly not in others, revealing that the stronger lexicon–consonant association found in adulthood is learned. Current research is evaluating the relative contribution of the early acquisition of the acoustic/phonetic and lexical properties of the native language in the emergence of this association
  • Niermann, H. C. M., Tyborowska, A., Cillessen, A. H. N., Van Donkelaar, M. M. J., Lammertink, F., Gunnar, M. R., Franke, B., Figner, B., & Roelofs, K. (2019). The relation between infant freezing and the development of internalizing symptoms in adolescence: A prospective longitudinal study. Developmental Science, 22(3): e12763. doi:10.1111/desc.12763.

    Abstract

    Given the long-lasting detrimental effects of internalizing symptoms, there is great need for detecting early risk markers. One promising marker is freezing behavior. Whereas initial freezing reactions are essential for coping with threat, prolonged freezing has been associated with internalizing psychopathology. However, it remains unknown whether early life alterations in freezing reactions predict changes in internalizing symptoms during adolescent development. In a longitudinal study (N = 116), we tested prospectively whether observed freezing in infancy predicted the development of internalizing symptoms from childhood through late adolescence (until age 17). Both longer and absent infant freezing behavior during a standard challenge (robot-confrontation task) were associated with internalizing symptoms in adolescence. Specifically, absent infant freezing predicted a relative increase in internalizing symptoms consistently across development from relatively low symptom levels in childhood to relatively high levels in late adolescence. Longer infant freezing also predicted a relative increase in internalizing symptoms, but only up until early adolescence. This latter effect was moderated by peer stress and was followed by a later decrease in internalizing symptoms. The findings suggest that early deviations in defensive freezing responses signal risk for internalizing symptoms and may constitute important markers in future stress vulnerability and resilience studies.
  • Nieuwland, M. S. (2019). Do ‘early’ brain responses reveal word form prediction during language comprehension? A critical review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 96, 367-400. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.11.019.

    Abstract

    Current theories of language comprehension posit that readers and listeners routinely try to predict the meaning but also the visual or sound form of upcoming words. Whereas most neuroimaging studies on word rediction focus on the N400 ERP or its magnetic equivalent, various studies claim that word form prediction manifests itself in ‘early’, pre N400 brain responses (e.g., ELAN, M100, P130, N1, P2, N200/PMN, N250). Modulations of these components are often taken as evidence that word form prediction impacts early sensory processes (the sensory hypothesis) or, alternatively, the initial stages of word recognition before word meaning is integrated with sentence context (the recognition hypothesis). Here, I comprehensively review studies on sentence- or discourse-level language comprehension that report such effects of prediction on early brain responses. I conclude that the reported evidence for the sensory hypothesis or word recognition hypothesis is weak and inconsistent, and highlight the urgent need for replication of previous findings. I discuss the implications and challenges to current theories of linguistic prediction and suggest avenues for future research.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Coopmans, C. W., & Sommers, R. P. (2019). Distinguishing old from new referents during discourse comprehension: Evidence from ERPs and oscillations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 398. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00398.

    Abstract

    In this EEG study, we used pre-registered and exploratory ERP and time-frequency analyses to investigate the resolution of anaphoric and non-anaphoric noun phrases during discourse comprehension. Participants listened to story contexts that described two antecedents, and subsequently read a target sentence with a critical noun phrase that lexically matched one antecedent (‘old’), matched two antecedents (‘ambiguous’), partially matched one antecedent in terms of semantic features (‘partial-match’), or introduced another referent (non-anaphoric, ‘new’). After each target sentence, participants judged whether the noun referred back to an antecedent (i.e., an ‘old/new’ judgment), which was easiest for ambiguous nouns and hardest for partially matching nouns. The noun-elicited N400 ERP component demonstrated initial sensitivity to repetition and semantic overlap, corresponding to repetition and semantic priming effects, respectively. New and partially matching nouns both elicited a subsequent frontal positivity, which suggested that partially matching anaphors may have been processed as new nouns temporarily. ERPs in an even later time window and ERPs time-locked to sentence-final words suggested that new and partially matching nouns had different effects on comprehension, with partially matching nouns incurring additional processing costs up to the end of the sentence. In contrast to the ERP results, the time-frequency results primarily demonstrated sensitivity to noun repetition, and did not differentiate partially matching anaphors from new nouns. In sum, our results show the ERP and time-frequency effects of referent repetition during discourse comprehension, and demonstrate the potentially demanding nature of establishing the anaphoric meaning of a novel noun.
  • Nievergelt, C. M., Maihofer, A. X., Klengel, T., Atkinson, E. G., Chen, C.-Y., Choi, K. W., Coleman, J. R. I., Dalvie, S., Duncan, L. E., Gelernter, J., Levey, D. F., Logue, M. W., Polimanti, R., Provost, A. C., Ratanatharathorn, A., Stein, M. B., Torres, K., Aiello, A. E., Almli, L. M., Amstadter, A. B., Andersen, S. B., Andreassen, O. A., Arbisi, P. A., Ashley-Koch, A. E., Austin, S. B., Avdibegovic, E., Babić, D., Bækvad-Hansen, M., Baker, D. G., Beckham, J. C., Bierut, L. J., Bisson, J. I., Boks, M. P., Bolger, E. A., Børglum, A. D., Bradley, B., Brashear, M., Breen, G., Bryant, R. A., Bustamante, A. C., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Calabrese, J. R., Caldas- de- Almeida, J. M., Dale, A. M., Daly, M. J., Daskalakis, N. P., Deckert, J., Delahanty, D. L., Dennis, M. F., Disner, S. G., Domschke, K., Dzubur-Kulenovic, A., Erbes, C. R., Evans, A., Farrer, L. A., Feeny, N. C., Flory, J. D., Forbes, D., Franz, C. E., Galea, S., Garrett, M. E., Gelaye, B., Geuze, E., Gillespie, C., Uka, A. G., Gordon, S. D., Guffanti, G., Hammamieh, R., Harnal, S., Hauser, M. A., Heath, A. C., Hemmings, S. M. J., Hougaard, D. M., Jakovljevic, M., Jett, M., Johnson, E. O., Jones, I., Jovanovic, T., Qin, X.-J., Junglen, A. G., Karstoft, K.-I., Kaufman, M. L., Kessler, R. C., Khan, A., Kimbrel, N. A., King, A. P., Koen, N., Kranzler, H. R., Kremen, W. S., Lawford, B. R., Lebois, L. A. M., Lewis, C. E., Linnstaedt, S. D., Lori, A., Lugonja, B., Luykx, J. J., Lyons, M. J., Maples-Keller, J., Marmar, C., Martin, A. R., Martin, N. G., Maurer, D., Mavissakalian, M. R., McFarlane, A., McGlinchey, R. E., McLaughlin, K. A., McLean, S. A., McLeay, S., Mehta, D., Milberg, W. P., Miller, M. W., Morey, R. A., Morris, C. P., Mors, O., Mortensen, P. B., Neale, B. M., Nelson, E. C., Nordentoft, M., Norman, S. B., O’Donnell, M., Orcutt, H. K., Panizzon, M. S., Peters, E. S., Peterson, A. L., Peverill, M., Pietrzak, R. H., Polusny, M. A., Rice, J. P., Ripke, S., Risbrough, V. B., Roberts, A. L., Rothbaum, A. O., Rothbaum, B. O., Roy-Byrne, P., Ruggiero, K., Rung, A., Rutten, B. P. F., Saccone, N. L., Sanchez, S. E., Schijven, D., Seedat, S., Seligowski, A. V., Seng, J. S., Sheerin, C. M., Silove, D., Smith, A. K., Smoller, J. W., Sponheim, S. R., Stein, D. J., Stevens, J. S., Sumner, J. A., Teicher, M. H., Thompson, W. K., Trapido, E., Uddin, M., Ursano, R. J., van den Heuvel, L. L., Van Hooff, M., Vermetten, E., Vinkers, C. H., Voisey, J., Wang, Y., Wang, Z., Werge, T., Williams, M. A., Williamson, D. E., Winternitz, S., Wolf, C., Wolf, E. J., Wolff, J. D., Yehuda, R., Young, R. M., Young, K. A., Zhao, H., Zoellner, L. A., Liberzon, I., Ressler, K. J., Haas, M., & Koenen, K. C. (2019). International meta-analysis of PTSD genome-wide association studies identifies sex- and ancestry-specific genetic risk loci. Nature Communications, 10(1): 4558. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12576-w.

    Abstract

    The risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following trauma is heritable, but robust common variants have yet to be identified. In a multi-ethnic cohort including over 30,000 PTSD cases and 170,000 controls we conduct a genome-wide association study of PTSD. We demonstrate SNP-based heritability estimates of 5–20%, varying by sex. Three genome-wide significant loci are identified, 2 in European and 1 in African-ancestry analyses. Analyses stratified by sex implicate 3 additional loci in men. Along with other novel genes and non-coding RNAs, a Parkinson’s disease gene involved in dopamine regulation, PARK2, is associated with PTSD. Finally, we demonstrate that polygenic risk for PTSD is significantly predictive of re-experiencing symptoms in the Million Veteran Program dataset, although specific loci did not replicate. These results demonstrate the role of genetic variation in the biology of risk for PTSD and highlight the necessity of conducting sex-stratified analyses and expanding GWAS beyond European ancestry populations.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary information
  • Nijveld, A. (2019). The role of exemplars in speech comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Noble, C., Sala, G., Peter, M., Lingwood, J., Rowland, C. F., Gobet, F., & Pine, J. (2019). The impact of shared book reading on children's language skills: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 28: 100290. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2019.100290.

    Abstract

    Shared book reading is thought to have a positive impact on young children's language development, with shared reading interventions often run in an attempt to boost children's language skills. However, despite the volume of research in this area, a number of issues remain outstanding. The current meta-analysis explored whether shared reading interventions are equally effective (a) across a range of study designs; (b) across a range of different outcome variables; and (c) for children from different SES groups. It also explored the potentially moderating effects of intervention duration, child age, use of dialogic reading techniques, person delivering the intervention and mode of intervention delivery. Our results show that, while there is an effect of shared reading on language development, this effect is smaller than reported in previous meta-analyses (  = 0.194, p = .002). They also show that this effect is moderated by the type of control group used and is negligible in studies with active control groups (  = 0.028, p = .703). Finally, they show no significant effects of differences in outcome variable (ps ≥ .286), socio-economic status (p = .658), or any of our other potential moderators (ps ≥ .077), and non-significant effects for studies with follow-ups (  = 0.139, p = .200). On the basis of these results, we make a number of recommendations for researchers and educators about the design and implementation of future shared reading interventions.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Nuthmann, A., De Groot, F., Huettig, F., & Olivers, C. L. N. (2019). Extrafoveal attentional capture by object semantics. PLoS One, 14(5): e0217051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217051.

    Abstract

    There is ongoing debate on whether object meaning can be processed outside foveal vision, making semantics available for attentional guidance. Much of the debate has centred on whether objects that do not fit within an overall scene draw attention, in complex displays that are often difficult to control. Here, we revisited the question by reanalysing data from three experiments that used displays consisting of standalone objects from a carefully controlled stimulus set. Observers searched for a target object, as per auditory instruction. On the critical trials, the displays contained no target but objects that were semantically related to the target, visually related, or unrelated. Analyses using (generalized) linear mixed-effects models showed that, although visually related objects attracted most attention, semantically related objects were also fixated earlier in time than unrelated objects. Moreover, semantic matches affected the very first saccade in the display. The amplitudes of saccades that first entered semantically related objects were larger than 5° on average, confirming that object semantics is available outside foveal vision. Finally, there was no semantic capture of attention for the same objects when observers did not actively look for the target, confirming that it was not stimulus-driven. We discuss the implications for existing models of visual cognition.
  • O'Meara, C., Speed, L. J., San Roque, L., & Majid, A. (2019). Perception Metaphors: A view from diversity. In L. J. Speed, C. O'Meara, L. San Roque, & A. Majid (Eds.), Perception Metaphors (pp. 1-16). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    Our bodily experiences play an important role in the way that we think and speak. Abstract language is, however, difficult to reconcile with this body-centred view, unless we appreciate the role metaphors play. To explore the role of the senses across semantic domains, we focus on perception metaphors, and examine their realisation across diverse languages, methods, and approaches. To what extent do mappings in perception metaphor adhere to predictions based on our biological propensities; and to what extent is there space for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural variation? We find that while some metaphors have widespread commonality, there is more diversity attested than should be comfortable for universalist accounts.
  • O’Meara, C., Kung, S. S., & Majid, A. (2019). The challenge of olfactory ideophones: Reconsidering ineffability from the Totonac-Tepehua perspective. International Journal of American Linguistics, 85(2), 173-212. doi:10.1086/701801.

    Abstract

    Olfactory impressions are said to be ineffable, but little systematic exploration has been done to substantiate this. We explored olfactory language in Huehuetla Tepehua—a Totonac-Tepehua language spoken in Hidalgo, Mexico—which has a large inventory of ideophones, words with sound-symbolic properties used to describe perceptuomotor experiences. A multi-method study found Huehuetla Tepehua has 45 olfactory ideophones, illustrating intriguing sound-symbolic alternation patterns. Elaboration in the olfactory domain is not unique to this language; related Totonac-Tepehua languages also have impressive smell lexicons. Comparison across these languages shows olfactory and gustatory terms overlap in interesting ways, mirroring the physiology of smelling and tasting. However, although cognate taste terms are formally similar, olfactory terms are less so. We suggest the relative instability of smell vocabulary in comparison with those of taste likely results from the more varied olfactory experiences caused by the mutability of smells in different environments.
  • Ortega, G., Schiefner, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Hearing non-signers use their gestures to predict iconic form-meaning mappings at first exposure to sign. Cognition, 191: 103996. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.06.008.

    Abstract

    The sign languages of deaf communities and the gestures produced by hearing people are communicative systems that exploit the manual-visual modality as means of expression. Despite their striking differences they share the property of iconicity, understood as the direct relationship between a symbol and its referent. Here we investigate whether non-signing hearing adults exploit their implicit knowledge of gestures to bootstrap accurate understanding of the meaning of iconic signs they have never seen before. In Study 1 we show that for some concepts gestures exhibit systematic forms across participants, and share different degrees of form overlap with the signs for the same concepts (full, partial, and no overlap). In Study 2 we found that signs with stronger resemblance with signs are more accurately guessed and are assigned higher iconicity ratings by non-signers than signs with low overlap. In addition, when more people produced a systematic gesture resembling a sign, they assigned higher iconicity ratings to that sign. Furthermore, participants had a bias to assume that signs represent actions and not objects. The similarities between some signs and gestures could be explained by deaf signers and hearing gesturers sharing a conceptual substrate that is rooted in our embodied experiences with the world. The finding that gestural knowledge can ease the interpretation of the meaning of novel signs and predicts iconicity ratings is in line with embodied accounts of cognition and the influence of prior knowledge to acquire new schemas. Through these mechanisms we propose that iconic gestures that overlap in form with signs may serve as some type of ‘manual cognates’ that help non-signing adults to break into a new language at first exposure.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary Materials
  • Ostarek, M., Joosen, D., Ishag, A., De Nijs, M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Are visual processes causally involved in “perceptual simulation” effects in the sentence-picture verification task? Cognition, 182, 84-94. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.017.

    Abstract

    Many studies have shown that sentences implying an object to have a certain shape produce a robust reaction time advantage for shape-matching pictures in the sentence-picture verification task. Typically, this finding has been interpreted as evidence for perceptual simulation, i.e., that access to implicit shape information involves the activation of modality-specific visual processes. It follows from this proposal that disrupting visual processing during sentence comprehension should interfere with perceptual simulation and obliterate the match effect. Here we directly test this hypothesis. Participants listened to sentences while seeing either visual noise that was previously shown to strongly interfere with basic visual processing or a blank screen. Experiments 1 and 2 replicated the match effect but crucially visual noise did not modulate it. When an interference technique was used that targeted high-level semantic processing (Experiment 3) however the match effect vanished. Visual noise specifically targeting high-level visual processes (Experiment 4) only had a minimal effect on the match effect. We conclude that the shape match effect in the sentence-picture verification paradigm is unlikely to rely on perceptual simulation.
  • Ostarek, M., Van Paridon, J., & Montero-Melis, G. (2019). Sighted people’s language is not helpful for blind individuals’ acquisition of typical animal colors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(44), 21972-21973. doi:10.1073/pnas.1912302116.
  • Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Six challenges for embodiment research. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(6), 593-599. doi:10.1177/0963721419866441.

    Abstract

    20 years after Barsalou's seminal perceptual symbols paper (Barsalou, 1999), embodied cognition, the notion that cognition involves simulations of sensory, motor, or affective states, has moved in status from an outlandish proposal advanced by a fringe movement in psychology to a mainstream position adopted by large numbers of researchers in the psychological and cognitive (neuro)sciences. While it has generated highly productive work in the cognitive sciences as a whole, it had a particularly strong impact on research into language comprehension. The view of a mental lexicon based on symbolic word representations, which are arbitrarily linked to sensory aspects of their referents, for example, was generally accepted since the cognitive revolution in the 1950s. This has radically changed. Given the current status of embodiment as a main theory of cognition, it is somewhat surprising that a close look at the state of the affairs in the literature reveals that the debate about the nature of the processes involved in language comprehension is far from settled and key questions remain unanswered. We present several suggestions for a productive way forward.
  • Ozyurek, A., & Woll, B. (2019). Language in the visual modality: Cospeech gesture and sign language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 67-83). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Parhammer*, S. I., Ebersberg*, M., Tippmann*, J., Stärk*, K., Opitz, A., Hinger, B., & Rossi, S. (2019). The influence of distraction on speech processing: How selective is selective attention? In Proceedings of Interspeech 2019 (pp. 3093-3097). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2699.

    Abstract

    -* indicates shared first authorship - The present study investigated the effects of selective attention on the processing of morphosyntactic errors in unattended parts of speech. Two groups of German native (L1) speakers participated in the present study. Participants listened to sentences in which irregular verbs were manipulated in three different conditions (correct, incorrect but attested ablaut pattern, incorrect and crosslinguistically unattested ablaut pattern). In order to track fast dynamic neural reactions to the stimuli, electroencephalography was used. After each sentence, participants in Experiment 1 performed a semantic judgement task, which deliberately distracted the participants from the syntactic manipulations and directed their attention to the semantic content of the sentence. In Experiment 2, participants carried out a syntactic judgement task, which put their attention on the critical stimuli. The use of two different attentional tasks allowed for investigating the impact of selective attention on speech processing and whether morphosyntactic processing steps are performed automatically. In Experiment 2, the incorrect attested condition elicited a larger N400 component compared to the correct condition, whereas in Experiment 1 no differences between conditions were found. These results suggest that the processing of morphosyntactic violations in irregular verbs is not entirely automatic but seems to be strongly affected by selective attention.
  • Peeters, D., Vanlangendonck, F., Rüschemeyer, S.-A., & Dijkstra, T. (2019). Activation of the language control network in bilingual visual word recognition. Cortex, 111, 63-73. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2018.10.012.

    Abstract

    Research into bilingual language production has identified a language control network that subserves control operations when bilinguals produce speech. Here we explore which brain areas are recruited for control purposes in bilingual language comprehension. In two experimental fMRI sessions, Dutch-English unbalanced bilinguals read words that differed in cross-linguistic form and meaning overlap across their two languages. The need for control operations was further manipulated by varying stimulus list composition across the two experimental sessions. We observed activation of the language control network in bilingual language comprehension as a function of both cross-linguistic form and meaning overlap and stimulus list composition. These findings suggest that the language control network is shared across bilingual language production and comprehension. We argue that activation of the language control network in language comprehension allows bilinguals to quickly and efficiently grasp the context-relevant meaning of words.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S0010945218303459-mmc1.docx
  • Peeters, D. (2019). Virtual reality: A game-changing method for the language sciences. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(3), 894-900. doi:10.3758/s13423-019-01571-3.

    Abstract

    This paper introduces virtual reality as an experimental method for the language sciences and provides a review of recent studies using the method to answer fundamental, psycholinguistic research questions. It is argued that virtual reality demonstrates that ecological validity and experimental control should not be conceived of as two extremes on a continuum, but rather as two orthogonal factors. Benefits of using virtual reality as an experimental method include that in a virtual environment, as in the real world, there is no artificial spatial divide between participant and stimulus. Moreover, virtual reality experiments do not necessarily have to include a repetitive trial structure or an unnatural experimental task. Virtual agents outperform experimental confederates in terms of the consistency and replicability of their behaviour, allowing for reproducible science across participants and research labs. The main promise of virtual reality as a tool for the experimental language sciences, however, is that it shifts theoretical focus towards the interplay between different modalities (e.g., speech, gesture, eye gaze, facial expressions) in dynamic and communicative real-world environments, complementing studies that focus on one modality (e.g. speech) in isolation.
  • Peter, M. S., & Rowland, C. F. (2019). Aligning developmental and processing accounts of implicit and statistical learning. Topics in Cognitive Science, 11, 555-572. doi:10.1111/tops.12396.

    Abstract

    A long‐standing question in child language research concerns how children achieve mature syntactic knowledge in the face of a complex linguistic environment. A widely accepted view is that this process involves extracting distributional regularities from the environment in a manner that is incidental and happens, for the most part, without the learner's awareness. In this way, the debate speaks to two associated but separate literatures in language acquisition: statistical learning and implicit learning. Both fields have explored this issue in some depth but, at present, neither the results from the infant studies used by the statistical learning literature nor the artificial grammar learning tasks studies from the implicit learning literature can be used to fully explain how children's syntax becomes adult‐like. In this work, we consider an alternative explanation—that children use error‐based learning to become mature syntax users. We discuss this proposal in the light of the behavioral findings from structural priming studies and the computational findings from Chang, Dell, and Bock's (2006) dual‐path model, which incorporates properties from both statistical and implicit learning, and offers an explanation for syntax learning and structural priming using a common error‐based learning mechanism. We then turn our attention to future directions for the field, here suggesting how structural priming might inform the statistical learning and implicit learning literature on the nature of the learning mechanism.
  • Peter, M. S., Durrant, S., Jessop, A., Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F. (2019). Does speed of processing or vocabulary size predict later language growth in toddlers? Cognitive Psychology, 115: 101238. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2019.101238.

    Abstract

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the way that children acquire cognitive representations depends critically on how their processing system is developing. In particular, recent studies suggest that individual differences in language processing speed play an important role in explaining the speed with which children acquire language. Inconsistencies across studies, however, mean that it is not clear whether this relationship is causal or correlational, whether it is present right across development, or whether it extends beyond word learning to affect other aspects of language learning, like syntax acquisition. To address these issues, the current study used the looking-while-listening paradigm devised by Fernald, Swingley, and Pinto (2001) to test the speed with which a large longitudinal cohort of children (the Language 0–5 Project) processed language at 19, 25, and 31 months of age, and took multiple measures of vocabulary (UKCDI, Lincoln CDI, CDI-III) and syntax (Lincoln CDI) between 8 and 37 months of age. Processing speed correlated with vocabulary size - though this relationship changed over time, and was observed only when there was variation in how well the items used in the looking-while-listening task were known. Fast processing speed was a positive predictor of subsequent vocabulary growth, but only for children with smaller vocabularies. Faster processing speed did, however, predict faster syntactic growth across the whole sample, even when controlling for concurrent vocabulary. The results indicate a relatively direct relationship between processing speed and syntactic development, but point to a more complex interaction between processing speed, vocabulary size and subsequent vocabulary growth.
  • Petras, K., Ten Oever, S., Jacobs, C., & Goffaux, V. (2019). Coarse-to-fine information integration in human vision. NeuroImage, 186, 103-112. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.10.086.

    Abstract

    Coarse-to-fine theories of vision propose that the coarse information carried by the low spatial frequencies (LSF) of visual input guides the integration of finer, high spatial frequency (HSF) detail. Whether and how LSF modulates HSF processing in naturalistic broad-band stimuli is still unclear. Here we used multivariate decoding of EEG signals to separate the respective contribution of LSF and HSF to the neural response evoked by broad-band images. Participants viewed images of human faces, monkey faces and phase-scrambled versions that were either broad-band or filtered to contain LSF or HSF. We trained classifiers on EEG scalp-patterns evoked by filtered scrambled stimuli and evaluated the derived models on broad-band scrambled and intact trials. We found reduced HSF contribution when LSF was informative towards image content, indicating that coarse information does guide the processing of fine detail, in line with coarse-to-fine theories. We discuss the potential cortical mechanisms underlying such coarse-to-fine feedback.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary figures
  • Postema, M., De Marco, M., Colato, E., & Venneri, A. (2019). A study of within-subject reliability of the brain’s default-mode network. Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine, 32(3), 391-405. doi:10.1007/s10334-018-00732-0.

    Abstract

    Objective Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is promising for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This study aimed to examine short-term reliability of the default-mode network (DMN), one of the main haemodynamic patterns of the brain. Materials and methods Using a 1.5 T Philips Achieva scanner, two consecutive resting-state fMRI runs were acquired on 69 healthy adults, 62 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD, and 28 patients with AD dementia. The anterior and posterior DMN and, as control, the visual-processing network (VPN) were computed using two different methodologies: connectivity of predetermined seeds (theory-driven) and dual regression (data-driven). Divergence and convergence in network strength and topography were calculated with paired t tests, global correlation coefficients, voxel-based correlation maps, and indices of reliability. Results No topographical differences were found in any of the networks. High correlations and reliability were found in the posterior DMN of healthy adults and MCI patients. Lower reliability was found in the anterior DMN and in the VPN, and in the posterior DMN of dementia patients. Discussion Strength and topography of the posterior DMN appear relatively stable and reliable over a short-term period of acquisition but with some degree of variability across clinical samples.
  • Postema, M., Van Rooij, D., Anagnostou, E., Arango, C., Auzias, G., Behrmann, M., Busatto Filho, G., Calderoni, S., Calvo, R., Daly, E., Deruelle, C., Di Martino, A., Dinstein, I., Duran, F. L. S., Durston, S., Ecker, C., Ehrlich, S., Fair, D., Fedor, J., Feng, X. and 38 morePostema, M., Van Rooij, D., Anagnostou, E., Arango, C., Auzias, G., Behrmann, M., Busatto Filho, G., Calderoni, S., Calvo, R., Daly, E., Deruelle, C., Di Martino, A., Dinstein, I., Duran, F. L. S., Durston, S., Ecker, C., Ehrlich, S., Fair, D., Fedor, J., Feng, X., Fitzgerald, J., Floris, D. L., Freitag, C. M., Gallagher, L., Glahn, D. C., Gori, I., Haar, S., Hoekstra, L., Jahanshad, N., Jalbrzikowski, M., Janssen, J., King, J. A., Kong, X., Lazaro, L., Lerch, J. P., Luna, B., Martinho, M. M., McGrath, J., Medland, S. E., Muratori, F., Murphy, C. M., Murphy, D. G. M., O'Hearn, K., Oranje, B., Parellada, M., Puig, O., Retico, A., Rosa, P., Rubia, K., Shook, D., Taylor, M., Tosetti, M., Wallace, G. L., Zhou, F., Thompson, P., Fisher, S. E., Buitelaar, J. K., & Francks, C. (2019). Altered structural brain asymmetry in autism spectrum disorder in a study of 54 datasets. Nature Communications, 10: 4958. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13005-8.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary Information
  • Pouw, W., Paxton, A., Harrison, S. J., & Dixon, J. A. (2019). Acoustic specification of upper limb movement in voicing. In A. Grimminger (Ed.), Proceedings of the 6th Gesture and Speech in Interaction – GESPIN 6 (pp. 68-74). Paderborn: Universitaetsbibliothek Paderborn. doi:10.17619/UNIPB/1-812.

    Supplementary material

    https://osf.io/9843h/
  • Pouw, W., & Dixon, J. A. (2019). Entrainment and modulation of gesture-speech synchrony under delayed auditory feedback. Cognitive Science, 43(3): e12721. doi:10.1111/cogs.12721.

    Abstract

    Gesture–speech synchrony re-stabilizes when hand movement or speech is disrupted by a delayed feedback manipulation, suggesting strong bidirectional coupling between gesture and speech. Yet it has also been argued from case studies in perceptual–motor pathology that hand gestures are a special kind of action that does not require closed-loop re-afferent feedback to maintain synchrony with speech. In the current pre-registered within-subject study, we used motion tracking to conceptually replicate McNeill’s (1992) classic study on gesture–speech synchrony under normal and 150 ms delayed auditory feedback of speech conditions (NO DAF vs. DAF). Consistent with, and extending McNeill’s original results, we obtain evidence that (a) gesture-speech synchrony is more stable under DAF versus NO DAF (i.e., increased coupling effect), (b) that gesture and speech variably entrain to the external auditory delay as indicated by a consistent shift in gesture-speech synchrony offsets (i.e., entrainment effect), and (c) that the coupling effect and the entrainment effect are codependent. We suggest, therefore, that gesture–speech synchrony provides a way for the cognitive system to stabilize rhythmic activity under interfering conditions.

    Supplementary material

    https://osf.io/pcde3/
  • Pouw, W., & Dixon, J. A. (2019). Quantifying gesture-speech synchrony. In A. Grimminger (Ed.), Proceedings of the 6th Gesture and Speech in Interaction – GESPIN 6 (pp. 75-80). Paderborn: Universitaetsbibliothek Paderborn. doi:10.17619/UNIPB/1-812.

    Abstract

    Spontaneously occurring speech is often seamlessly accompanied by hand gestures. Detailed observations of video data suggest that speech and gesture are tightly synchronized in time, consistent with a dynamic interplay between body and mind. However, spontaneous gesturespeech synchrony has rarely been objectively quantified beyond analyses of video data, which do not allow for identification of kinematic properties of gestures. Consequently, the point in gesture which is held to couple with speech, the so-called moment of “maximum effort”, has been variably equated with the peak velocity, peak acceleration, peak deceleration, or the onset of the gesture. In the current exploratory report, we provide novel evidence from motiontracking and acoustic data that peak velocity is closely aligned, and shortly leads, the peak pitch (F0) of speech

    Supplementary material

    https://osf.io/9843h/
  • Pouw, W., Rop, G., De Koning, B., & Paas, F. (2019). The cognitive basis for the split-attention effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(11), 2058-2075. doi:10.1037/xge0000578.

    Abstract

    The split-attention effect entails that learning from spatially separated, but mutually referring information sources (e.g., text and picture), is less effective than learning from the equivalent spatially integrated sources. According to cognitive load theory, impaired learning is caused by the working memory load imposed by the need to distribute attention between the information sources and mentally integrate them. In this study, we directly tested whether the split-attention effect is caused by spatial separation per se. Spatial distance was varied in basic cognitive tasks involving pictures (Experiment 1) and text–picture combinations (Experiment 2; preregistered study), and in more ecologically valid learning materials (Experiment 3). Experiment 1 showed that having to integrate two pictorial stimuli at greater distances diminished performance on a secondary visual working memory task, but did not lead to slower integration. When participants had to integrate a picture and written text in Experiment 2, a greater distance led to slower integration of the stimuli, but not to diminished performance on the secondary task. Experiment 3 showed that presenting spatially separated (compared with integrated) textual and pictorial information yielded fewer integrative eye movements, but this was not further exacerbated when increasing spatial distance even further. This effect on learning processes did not lead to differences in learning outcomes between conditions. In conclusion, we provide evidence that larger distances between spatially separated information sources influence learning processes, but that spatial separation on its own is not likely to be the only, nor a sufficient, condition for impacting learning outcomes.

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  • Pouw, W., Harrison, S. J., & Dixon, J. A. (2019). Gesture–speech physics: The biomechanical basis for the emergence of gesture–speech synchrony. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149(2), 391-404. doi:10.1037/xge0000646.

    Abstract

    The phenomenon of gesture–speech synchrony involves tight coupling of prosodic contrasts in gesture movement (e.g., peak velocity) and speech (e.g., peaks in fundamental frequency; F0). Gesture–speech synchrony has been understood as completely governed by sophisticated neural-cognitive mechanisms. However, gesture–speech synchrony may have its original basis in the resonating forces that travel through the body. In the current preregistered study, movements with high physical impact affected phonation in line with gesture–speech synchrony as observed in natural contexts. Rhythmic beating of the arms entrained phonation acoustics (F0 and the amplitude envelope). Such effects were absent for a condition with low-impetus movements (wrist movements) and a condition without movement. Further, movement–phonation synchrony was more pronounced when participants were standing as opposed to sitting, indicating a mediating role for postural stability. We conclude that gesture–speech synchrony has a biomechanical basis, which will have implications for our cognitive, ontogenetic, and phylogenetic understanding of multimodal language.
  • Preisig, B., Sjerps, M. J., Kösem, A., & Riecke, L. (2019). Dual-site high-density 4Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation applied over auditory and motor cortical speech areas does not influence auditory-motor mapping. Brain Stimulation, 12(3), 775-777. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2019.01.007.

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  • Preisig, B., & Sjerps, M. J. (2019). Hemispheric specializations affect interhemispheric speech sound integration during duplex perception. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145, EL190-EL196. doi:10.1121/1.5092829.

    Abstract

    The present study investigated whether speech-related spectral information benefits from initially predominant right or left hemisphere processing. Normal hearing individuals categorized speech sounds composed of an ambiguous base (perceptually intermediate between /ga/ and /da/), presented to one ear, and a disambiguating low or high F3 chirp presented to the other ear. Shorter response times were found when the chirp was presented to the left ear than to the right ear (inducing initially right-hemisphere chirp processing), but no between-ear differences in strength of overall integration. The results are in line with the assumptions of a right hemispheric dominance for spectral processing.

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  • Quinn, S., & Kidd, E. (2019). Symbolic play promotes non‐verbal communicative exchange in infant–caregiver dyads. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 37(1), 33-50. doi:10.1111/bjdp.12251.

    Abstract

    Symbolic play has long been considered a fertile context for communicative development (Bruner, 1983, Child's talk: Learning to use language, Oxford University Press, Oxford; Vygotsky, 1962, Thought and language, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA; Vygotsky, 1978, Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA). In the current study, we examined caregiver–infant interaction during symbolic play and compared it to interaction in a comparable but non‐symbolic context (i.e., ‘functional’ play). Fifty‐four (N = 54) caregivers and their 18‐month‐old infants were observed engaging in 20 min of play (symbolic, functional). Play interactions were coded and compared across play conditions for joint attention (JA) and gesture use. Compared with functional play, symbolic play was characterized by greater frequency and duration of JA and greater gesture use, particularly the use of iconic gestures with an object in hand. The results suggest that symbolic play provides a rich context for the exchange and negotiation of meaning, and thus may contribute to the development of important skills underlying communicative development.

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