Publications

Displaying 1 - 20 of 305
  • Acerbi, A., Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., Haun, D. B. M., & Tennie, C. (2018). Reply to 'Sigmoidal acquisition curves are good indicators of conformist transmission'. Scientific Reports, 8(1): 14016. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30382-0.

    Abstract

    In the Smaldino et al. study ‘Sigmoidal Acquisition Curves are Good Indicators of Conformist Transmission’, our original findings regarding the conditional validity of using population-level sigmoidal acquisition curves as means to evidence individual-level conformity are contested. We acknowledge the identification of useful nuances, yet conclude that our original findings remain relevant for the study of conformist learning mechanisms. Replying to: Smaldino, P. E., Aplin, L. M. & Farine, D. R. Sigmoidal Acquisition Curves Are Good Indicators of Conformist Transmission. Sci. Rep. 8, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-30248-5 (2018).
  • Alhama, R. G., & Zuidema, W. (2018). Pre-Wiring and Pre-Training: What Does a Neural Network Need to Learn Truly General Identity Rules? Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, 61, 927-946. doi:10.1613/jair.1.11197.

    Abstract

    In an influential paper (“Rule Learning by Seven-Month-Old Infants”), Marcus, Vijayan, Rao and Vishton claimed that connectionist models cannot account for human success at learning tasks that involved generalization of abstract knowledge such as grammatical rules. This claim triggered a heated debate, centered mostly around variants of the Simple Recurrent Network model. In our work, we revisit this unresolved debate and analyze the underlying issues from a different perspective. We argue that, in order to simulate human-like learning of grammatical rules, a neural network model should not be used as a tabula rasa, but rather, the initial wiring of the neural connections and the experience acquired prior to the actual task should be incorporated into the model. We present two methods that aim to provide such initial state: a manipulation of the initial connections of the network in a cognitively plausible manner (concretely, by implementing a “delay-line” memory), and a pre-training algorithm that incrementally challenges the network with novel stimuli. We implement such techniques in an Echo State Network (ESN), and we show that only when combining both techniques the ESN is able to learn truly general identity rules. Finally, we discuss the relation between these cognitively motivated techniques and recent advances in Deep Learning.
  • Arshamian, A., Iravani, B., Majid, A., & Lundström, J. N. (2018). Respiration modulates olfactory memory consolidation in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(48), 10286-10294. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3360-17.2018.

    Abstract

    In mammals, respiratory-locked hippocampal rhythms are implicated in the scaffolding and transfer of information between sensory and memory networks. These oscillations are entrained by nasal respiration and driven by the olfactory bulb. They then travel to the piriform cortex where they propagate further downstream to the hippocampus and modulate neural processes critical for memory formation. In humans, bypassing nasal airflow through mouth-breathing abolishes these rhythms and impacts encoding as well as recognition processes thereby reducing memory performance. It has been hypothesized that similar behavior should be observed for the consolidation process, the stage between encoding and recognition, were memory is reactivated and strengthened. However, direct evidence for such an effect is lacking in human and non-human animals. Here we tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of respiration on consolidation of episodic odor memory. In two separate sessions, female and male participants encoded odors followed by a one hour awake resting consolidation phase where they either breathed solely through their nose or mouth. Immediately after the consolidation phase, memory for odors was tested. Recognition memory significantly increased during nasal respiration compared to mouth respiration during consolidation. These results provide the first evidence that respiration directly impacts consolidation of episodic events, and lends further support to the notion that core cognitive functions are modulated by the respiratory cycle.
  • Azar, Z., Backus, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2018). General and language specific factors influence reference tracking in speech and gesture in discourse. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2018.1519368.

    Abstract

    Referent accessibility influences expressions in speech and gestures in similar ways. Speakers mostly use richer forms as noun phrases (NPs) in speech and gesture more when referents have low accessibility, whereas they use reduced forms such as pronouns more often and gesture less when referents have high accessibility. We investigated the relationships between speech and gesture during reference tracking in a pro-drop language—Turkish. Overt pronouns were not strongly associated with accessibility but with pragmatic context (i.e., marking similarity, contrast). Nevertheless, speakers gestured more when referents were re-introduced versus maintained and when referents were expressed with NPs versus pronouns. Pragmatic context did not influence gestures. Further, pronouns in low-accessibility contexts were accompanied with gestures—possibly for reference disambiguation—more often than previously found for non-pro-drop languages in such contexts. These findings enhance our understanding of the relationships between speech and gesture at the discourse level.
  • Bakker-Marshall, I., Takashima, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2018). Theta-band Oscillations in the Middle Temporal Gyrus Reflect Novel Word Consolidation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(5), 621-633. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01240.

    Abstract

    Like many other types of memory formation, novel word learning benefits from an offline consolidation period after the initial encoding phase. A previous EEG study has shown that retrieval of novel words elicited more word-like-induced electrophysiological brain activity in the theta band after consolidation [Bakker, I., Takashima, A., van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. Changes in theta and beta oscillations as signatures of novel word consolidation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27, 1286–1297, 2015]. This suggests that theta-band oscillations play a role in lexicalization, but it has not been demonstrated that this effect is directly caused by the formation of lexical representations. This study used magnetoencephalography to localize the theta consolidation effect to the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG), a region known to be involved in lexical storage. Both untrained novel words and words learned immediately before test elicited lower theta power during retrieval than existing words in this region. After a 24-hr consolidation period, the difference between novel and existing words decreased significantly, most strongly in the left pMTG. The magnitude of the decrease after consolidation correlated with an increase in behavioral competition effects between novel words and existing words with similar spelling, reflecting functional integration into the mental lexicon. These results thus provide new evidence that consolidation aids the development of lexical representations mediated by the left pMTG. Theta synchronization may enable lexical access by facilitating the simultaneous activation of distributed semantic, phonological, and orthographic representations that are bound together in the pMTG.
  • Bauer, B., & Mota, M. (2018). On language, cognition, and the brain: An interview with Peter Hagoort. Sobre linguagem, cognição e cérebro: Uma entrevista com Peter Hagoort. Revista da Anpoll, (45), 291-296. doi:10.18309/anp.v1i45.1179.

    Abstract

    Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, founding Director of the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN, 1999), and professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University, all located in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, PETER HAGOORT examines how the brain controls language production and comprehension. He was one of the first to integrate psychological theory and models from neuroscience in an attempt to understand how the human language faculty is instantiated in the brain.
  • Becker, M., Devanna, P., Fisher, S. E., & Vernes, S. C. (2018). Mapping of Human FOXP2 Enhancers Reveals Complex Regulation. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 11: 47. doi:10.3389/fnmol.2018.00047.

    Abstract

    Mutations of the FOXP2 gene cause a severe speech and language disorder, providing a molecular window into the neurobiology of language. Individuals with FOXP2 mutations have structural and functional alterations affecting brain circuits that overlap with sites of FOXP2 expression, including regions of the cortex, striatum, and cerebellum. FOXP2 displays complex patterns of expression in the brain, as well as in non-neuronal tissues, suggesting that sophisticated regulatory mechanisms control its spatio-temporal expression. However, to date, little is known about the regulation of FOXP2 or the genomic elements that control its expression. Using chromatin conformation capture (3C), we mapped the human FOXP2 locus to identify putative enhancer regions that engage in long-range interactions with the promoter of this gene. We demonstrate the ability of the identified enhancer regions to drive gene expression. We also show regulation of the FOXP2 promoter and enhancer regions by candidate regulators – FOXP family and TBR1 transcription factors. These data point to regulatory elements that may contribute to the temporal- or tissue-specific expression patterns of human FOXP2. Understanding the upstream regulatory pathways controlling FOXP2 expression will bring new insight into the molecular networks contributing to human language and related disorders.
  • Beckmann, N. S., Indefrey, P., & Petersen, W. (2018). Words count, but thoughts shift: A frame-based account to conceptual shifts in noun countability. Voprosy Kognitivnoy Lingvistiki (Issues of Cognitive Linguistics ), 2, 79-89. doi:10.20916/1812-3228-2018-2-79-89.

    Abstract

    The current paper proposes a frame-based account to conceptual shifts in the countability do-main. We interpret shifts in noun countability as syntactically driven metonymy. Inserting a noun in an incongruent noun phrase, that is combining it with a determiner of the other countability class, gives rise to a re-interpretation of the noun referent. We assume lexical entries to be three-fold frame com-plexes connecting conceptual knowledge representations with language-specific form representations via a lemma level. Empirical data from a lexical decision experiment are presented, that support the as-sumption of such a lemma level connecting perceptual input of linguistic signs to conceptual knowledge.
  • Belpaeme, T., Vogt, P., Van den Berghe, R., Bergmann, K., Göksun, T., De Haas, M., Kanero, J., Kennedy, J., Küntay, A. C., Oudgenoeg-Paz, O., Papadopoulos, F., Schodde, T., Verhagen, J., Wallbridge, C. D., Willemsen, B., De Wit, J., Geçkin, V., Hoffmann, L., Kopp, S., Krahmer, E., Mamus, E., Montanier, J.-M., Oranç, C., & Pandey, A. K. (2018). Guidelines for designing social robots as second language tutors. International Journal of Social Robotics, 10(3), 325-341. doi:10.1007/s12369-018-0467-6.

    Abstract

    In recent years, it has been suggested that social robots have potential as tutors and educators for both children and adults. While robots have been shown to be effective in teaching knowledge and skill-based topics, we wish to explore how social robots can be used to tutor a second language to young children. As language learning relies on situated, grounded and social learning, in which interaction and repeated practice are central, social robots hold promise as educational tools for supporting second language learning. This paper surveys the developmental psychology of second language learning and suggests an agenda to study how core concepts of second language learning can be taught by a social robot. It suggests guidelines for designing robot tutors based on observations of second language learning in human–human scenarios, various technical aspects and early studies regarding the effectiveness of social robots as second language tutors.
  • Benítez-Burraco, A., & Dediu, D. (2018). Ancient DNA and language evolution: A special section. Journal of Language Evolution, 3(1), 47-48. doi:10.1093/jole/lzx024.
  • Bentz, C., Dediu, D., Verkerk, A., & Jäger, G. (2018). Language family trees reflect geography and demography beyond neutral drift. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference (EVOLANGXII) (pp. 38-40). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.006.
  • Bentz, C., Dediu, D., Verkerk, A., & Jäger, G. (2018). The evolution of language families is shaped by the environment beyond neutral drift. Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 816-821. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0457-6.

    Abstract

    There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world today1. It has been argued that the natural and social environment of languages drives this diversity. However, a fundamental question is how strong are environmental pressures, and does neutral drift suffice as a mechanism to explain diversification? We estimate the phylogenetic signals of geographic dimensions, distance to water, climate and population size on more than 6,000 phylogenetic trees of 46 language families. Phylogenetic signals of environmental factors are generally stronger than expected under the null hypothesis of no relationship with the shape of family trees. Importantly, they are also—in most cases—not compatible with neutral drift models of constant-rate change across the family tree branches. Our results suggest that language diversification is driven by further adaptive and non-adaptive pressures. Language diversity cannot be understood without modelling the pressures that physical, ecological and social factors exert on language users in different environments across the globe.
  • Bergmann, C., & Cristia, A. (2018). Environmental influences on infants’ native vowel discrimination: The case of talker number in daily life. Infancy, 23(4), 484-501. doi:10.1111/infa.12232.

    Abstract

    Both quality and quantity of speech from the primary caregiver have been found to impact language development. A third aspect of the input has been largely ignored: the number of talkers who provide input. Some infants spend most of their waking time with only one person; others hear many different talkers. Even if the very same words are spoken the same number of times, the pronunciations can be more variable when several talkers pronounce them. Is language acquisition affected by the number of people who provide input? To shed light on the possible link between how many people provide input in daily life and infants’ native vowel discrimination, three age groups were tested: 4-month-olds (before attunement to native vowels), 6-month-olds (at the cusp of native vowel attunement) and 12-month-olds (well attuned to the native vowel system). No relationship was found between talker number and native vowel discrimination skills in 4- and 6-month-olds, who are overall able to discriminate the vowel contrast. At 12 months, we observe a small positive relationship, but further analyses reveal that the data are also compatible with the null hypothesis of no relationship. Implications in the context of infant language acquisition and cognitive development are discussed.
  • Bergmann, C., Tsuji, S., Piccinini, P. E., Lewis, M. L., Braginsky, M. B., Frank, M. C., & Cristia, A. (2018). Promoting replicability in developmental research through meta-analyses: Insights from language acquisition research. Child Development, 89(6), 1996-2009. doi:10.1111/cdev.13079.

    Abstract

    Previous work suggests key factors for replicability, a necessary feature for theory building, include statistical power and appropriate research planning. These factors are examined by analyzing a collection of 12 standardized meta-analyses on language development between birth and 5 years. With a median effect size of Cohen's d= 0.45 and typical sample size of 18 participants, most research is underpowered (range: 6%-99%; median 44%); and calculating power based on seminal publications is not a suitable strategy. Method choice can be improved, as shown in analyses on exclusion rates and effect size as a function of method. The article ends with a discussion on how to increase replicability in both language acquisition studies specifically and developmental research more generally.
  • Berkers, R. M. W. J., Ekman, M., van Dongen, E. V., Takashima, A., Barth, M., Paller, K. A., & Fernández, G. (2018). Cued reactivation during slow-wave sleep induces brain connectivity changes related to memory stabilization. Scientific Reports, 8: 16958. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35287-6.

    Abstract

    Memory reprocessing following acquisition enhances memory consolidation. Specifically, neural activity during encoding is thought to be ‘replayed’ during subsequent slow-wave sleep. Such memory replay is thought to contribute to the functional reorganization of neural memory traces. In particular, memory replay may facilitate the exchange of information across brain regions by inducing a reconfiguration of connectivity across the brain. Memory reactivation can be induced by external cues through a procedure known as “targeted memory reactivation”. Here, we analysed data from a published study with auditory cues used to reactivate visual object-location memories during slow-wave sleep. We characterized effects of memory reactivation on brain network connectivity using graph-theory. We found that cue presentation during slow-wave sleep increased global network integration of occipital cortex, a visual region that was also active during retrieval of object locations. Although cueing did not have an overall beneficial effect on the retention of cued versus uncued associations, individual differences in overnight memory stabilization were related to enhanced network integration of occipital cortex. Furthermore, occipital cortex displayed enhanced connectivity with mnemonic regions, namely the hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus and medial prefrontal cortex during cue sound presentation. Together, these results suggest a neural mechanism where cue-induced replay during sleep increases integration of task-relevant perceptual regions with mnemonic regions. This cross-regional integration may be instrumental for the consolidation and long-term storage of enduring memories.

    Supplementary material

    41598_2018_35287_MOESM1_ESM.doc
  • Blythe, J. (2018). Genesis of the trinity: The convergent evolution of trirelational kinterms. In P. McConvell, & P. Kelly (Eds.), Skin, kin and clan: The dynamics of social categories in Indigenous Australia (pp. 431-471). Canberra: ANU EPress.
  • De Boer, B., & Thompson, B. (2018). Biology-culture co-evolution in finite populations. Scientific Reports, 8: 1209. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18928-0.

    Abstract

    Language is the result of two concurrent evolutionary processes: Biological and cultural inheritance. An influential evolutionary hypothesis known as the moving target problem implies inherent limitations on the interactions between our two inheritance streams that result from a difference in pace: The speed of cultural evolution is thought to rule out cognitive adaptation to culturally evolving aspects of language. We examine this hypothesis formally by casting it as as a problem of adaptation in time-varying environments. We present a mathematical model of biology-culture co-evolution in finite populations: A generalisation of the Moran process, treating co-evolution as coupled non-independent Markov processes, providing a general formulation of the moving target hypothesis in precise probabilistic terms. Rapidly varying culture decreases the probability of biological adaptation. However, we show that this effect declines with population size and with stronger links between biology and culture: In realistically sized finite populations, stochastic effects can carry cognitive specialisations to fixation in the face of variable culture, especially if the effects of those specialisations are amplified through cultural evolution. These results support the view that language arises from interactions between our two major inheritance streams, rather than from one primary evolutionary process that dominates another. © 2018 The Author(s).

    Supplementary material

    41598_2017_18928_MOESM1_ESM.pdf
  • Bögels, S., Casillas, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Planning versus comprehension in turn-taking: Fast responders show reduced anticipatory processing of the question. Neuropsychologia, 109, 295-310. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.12.028.

    Abstract

    Rapid response latencies in conversation suggest that responders start planning before the ongoing turn is finished. Indeed, an earlier EEG study suggests that listeners start planning their responses to questions as soon as they can (Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation. Scientific Reports, 5, 12881). The present study aimed to (1) replicate this early planning effect and (2) investigate whether such early response planning incurs a cost on participants’ concurrent comprehension of the ongoing turn. During the experiment participants answered questions from a confederate partner. To address aim (1), the questions were designed such that response planning could start either early or late in the turn. Our results largely replicate Bögels et al. (2015) showing a large positive ERP effect and an oscillatory alpha/beta reduction right after participants could have first started planning their verbal response, again suggesting an early start of response planning. To address aim (2), the confederate's questions also contained either an expected word or an unexpected one to elicit a differential N400 effect, either before or after the start of response planning. We hypothesized an attenuated N400 effect after response planning had started. In contrast, the N400 effects before and after planning did not differ. There was, however, a positive correlation between participants' response time and their N400 effect size after planning had started; quick responders showed a smaller N400 effect, suggesting reduced attention to comprehension and possibly reduced anticipatory processing. We conclude that early response planning can indeed impact comprehension processing.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.pdf
  • Bosker, H. R., & Ghitza, O. (2018). Entrained theta oscillations guide perception of subsequent speech: Behavioral evidence from rate normalization. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(8), 955-967. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1439179.

    Abstract

    This psychoacoustic study provides behavioral evidence that neural entrainment in the theta range (3-9 Hz) causally shapes speech perception. Adopting the ‘rate normalization’ paradigm (presenting compressed carrier sentences followed by uncompressed target words), we show that uniform compression of a speech carrier to syllable rates inside the theta range influences perception of subsequent uncompressed targets, but compression outside theta range does not. However, the influence of carriers – compressed outside theta range – on target perception is salvaged when carriers are ‘repackaged’ to have a packet rate inside theta. This suggests that the brain can only successfully entrain to syllable/packet rates within theta range, with a causal influence on the perception of subsequent speech, in line with recent neuroimaging data. Thus, this study points to a central role for sustained theta entrainment in rate normalization and contributes to our understanding of the functional role of brain oscillations in speech perception.
  • Bosker, H. R. (2018). Putting Laurel and Yanny in context. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144(6), EL503-EL508. doi:10.1121/1.5070144.

    Abstract

    Recently, the world’s attention was caught by an audio clip that was perceived as “Laurel” or “Yanny”. Opinions were sharply split: many could not believe others heard something different from their perception. However, a crowd-source experiment with >500 participants shows that it is possible to make people hear Laurel, where they previously heard Yanny, by manipulating preceding acoustic context. This study is not only the first to reveal within-listener variation in Laurel/Yanny percepts, but also to demonstrate contrast effects for global spectral information in larger frequency regions. Thus, it highlights the intricacies of human perception underlying these social media phenomena.

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