Publications

Displaying 1 - 20 of 152
  • Akita, K., & Dingemanse, M. (2019). Ideophones (Mimetics, Expressives). In Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.477.

    Abstract

    Ideophones, also termed “mimetics” or “expressives,” are marked words that depict sensory imagery. They are found in many of the world’s languages, and sizable lexical classes of ideophones are particularly well-documented in languages of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Ideophones are not limited to onomatopoeia like meow and smack, but cover a wide range of sensory domains, such as manner of motion (e.g., plisti plasta ‘splish-splash’ in Basque), texture (e.g., tsaklii ‘rough’ in Ewe), and psychological states (e.g., wakuwaku ‘excited’ in Japanese). Across languages, ideophones stand out as marked words due to special phonotactics, expressive morphology including certain types of reduplication, and relative syntactic independence, in addition to production features like prosodic foregrounding and common co-occurrence with iconic gestures. Three intertwined issues have been repeatedly debated in the century-long literature on ideophones. (a) Definition: Isolated descriptive traditions and cross-linguistic variation have sometimes obscured a typologically unified view of ideophones, but recent advances show the promise of a prototype definition of ideophones as conventionalised depictions in speech, with room for language-specific nuances. (b) Integration: The variable integration of ideophones across linguistic levels reveals an interaction between expressiveness and grammatical integration, and has important implications for how to conceive of dependencies between linguistic systems. (c) Iconicity: Ideophones form a natural laboratory for the study of iconic form-meaning associations in natural languages, and converging evidence from corpus and experimental studies suggests important developmental, evolutionary, and communicative advantages of ideophones.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). M/EEG analysis of naturalistic stories: a review from speech to language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 457-473. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1546882.

    Abstract

    M/EEG research using naturally spoken stories as stimuli has focused largely on speech and not language processing. The temporal resolution of M/EEG is a two-edged sword, allowing for the study of the fine acoustic structure of speech, yet easily overwhelmed by the temporal noise of variation in constituent length. Recent theories on the neural encoding of linguistic structure require the temporal resolution of M/EEG, yet suffer from confounds when studied on traditional, heavily controlled stimuli. Recent methodological advances allow for synthesising naturalistic designs and traditional, controlled designs into effective M/EEG research on naturalistic language. In this review, we highlight common threads throughout the at-times distinct research traditions of speech and language processing. We conclude by examining the tradeoffs and successes of three M/EEG studies on fully naturalistic language paradigms and the future directions they suggest.
  • Alhama, R. G., & Zuidema, W. (2019). A review of computational models of basic rule learning: The neural-symbolic debate and beyond. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13423-019-01602-z.

    Abstract

    We present a critical review of computational models of generalization of simple grammar-like rules, such as ABA and ABB. In particular, we focus on models attempting to account for the empirical results of Marcus et al. (Science, 283(5398), 77–80 1999). In that study, evidence is reported of generalization behavior by 7-month-old infants, using an Artificial Language Learning paradigm. The authors fail to replicate this behavior in neural network simulations, and claim that this failure reveals inherent limitations of a whole class of neural networks: those that do not incorporate symbolic operations. A great number of computational models were proposed in follow-up studies, fuelling a heated debate about what is required for a model to generalize. Twenty years later, this debate is still not settled. In this paper, we review a large number of the proposed models. We present a critical analysis of those models, in terms of how they contribute to answer the most relevant questions raised by the experiment. After identifying which aspects require further research, we propose a list of desiderata for advancing our understanding on generalization.
  • Alhama, R. G., Siegelman, N., Frost, R., & Armstrong, B. C. (2019). The role of information in visual word recognition: A perceptually-constrained connectionist account. In A. Goel, C. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 83-89). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Proficient readers typically fixate near the center of a word, with a slight bias towards word onset. We explore a novel account of this phenomenon based on combining information-theory with visual perceptual constraints in a connectionist model of visual word recognition. This account posits that the amount of information-content available for word identification varies across fixation locations and across languages, thereby explaining the overall fixation location bias in different languages, making the novel prediction that certain words are more readily identified when fixating at an atypical fixation location, and predicting specific cross-linguistic differences. We tested these predictions across several simulations in English and Hebrew, and in a pilot behavioral experiment. Results confirmed that the bias to fixate closer to word onset aligns with maximizing information in the visual signal, that some words are more readily identified at atypical fixation locations, and that these effects vary to some degree across languages.
  • Araújo, S., Fernandes, T., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read facilitates retrieval of phonological representations in rapid automatized naming: Evidence from unschooled illiterate, ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. Developmental Science, 22(4): e12783. doi:10.1111/desc.12783.

    Abstract

    Rapid automatized naming (RAN) of visual items is a powerful predictor of reading skills. However, the direction and locus of the association between RAN and reading is still largely unclear. Here we investigated whether literacy acquisition directly bolsters RAN efficiency for objects, adopting a strong methodological design, by testing three groups of adults matched in age and socioeconomic variables, who differed only in literacy/schooling: unschooled illiterate and ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. To investigate in a fine-grained manner whether and how literacy facilitates lexical retrieval, we orthogonally manipulated the word-form frequency (high vs. low) and phonological neighborhood density (dense vs. spare) of the objects’ names. We observed that literacy experience enhances the automaticity with which visual stimuli (e.g., objects) can be retrieved and named: relative to readers (ex-illiterate and literate), illiterate adults performed worse on RAN. Crucially, the group difference was exacerbated and significant only for those items that were of low frequency and from sparse neighborhoods. These results thus suggest that, regardless of schooling and age at which literacy was acquired, learning to read facilitates the access to and retrieval of phonological representations, especially of difficult lexical items.
  • Azar, Z., Ozyurek, A., & Backus, A. (2019). Turkish-Dutch bilinguals maintain language-specific reference tracking strategies in elicited narratives. International Journal of Bilingualism. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1367006919838375.

    Abstract

    Aim: This paper examines whether second-generation Turkish heritage speakers in the Netherlands follow language-specific patterns of reference tracking in Turkish and Dutch, focusing on discourse status and pragmatic contexts as factors that may modulate the choice of referring expressions (REs), that is, the noun phrase (NP), overt pronoun and null pronoun. Methodology: Two short silent videos were used to elicit narratives from 20 heritage speakers of Turkish, both in Turkish and in Dutch. Monolingual baseline data were collected from 20 monolingually raised speakers of Turkish in Turkey and 20 monolingually raised speakers of Dutch in the Netherlands. We also collected language background data from bilinguals with an extensive survey. Data and analysis: Using generalised logistic mixed-effect regression, we analysed the influence of discourse status and pragmatic context on the choice of subject REs in Turkish and Dutch, comparing bilingual data to the monolingual baseline in each language. Findings: Heritage speakers used overt versus null pronouns in Turkish and stressed versus reduced pronouns in Dutch in pragmatically appropriate contexts. There was, however, a slight increase in the proportions of overt pronouns as opposed to NPs in Turkish and as opposed to null pronouns in Dutch. We suggest an explanation based on the degree of entrenchment of differential RE types in relation to discourse status as the possible source of the increase. Originality: This paper provides data from an understudied language pair in the domain of reference tracking in language contact situations. Unlike several studies of pronouns in language contact, we do not find differences across monolingual and bilingual speakers with regard to pragmatic constraints on overt pronouns in the minority pro-drop language. Significance: Our findings highlight the importance of taking language proficiency and use into account while studying bilingualism and combining formal approaches to language use with usage-based approaches for a more complete understanding of bilingual language production.
  • Azar, Z., Backus, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Language contact does not drive gesture transfer: Heritage speakers maintain language specific gesture patterns in each language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S136672891900018X.

    Abstract

    This paper investigates whether there are changes in gesture rate when speakers of two languages with different gesture rates (Turkish-high gesture; Dutch-low gesture) come into daily contact. We analyzed gestures produced by second-generation heritage speakers of Turkish in the Netherlands in each language, comparing them to monolingual baselines. We did not find differences between bilingual and monolingual speakers, possibly because bilinguals were proficient in both languages and used them frequently – in line with a usage-based approach to language. However, bilinguals produced more deictic gestures than monolinguals in both Turkish and Dutch, which we interpret as a bilingual strategy. Deictic gestures may help organize discourse by placing entities in gesture space and help reduce the cognitive load associated with being bilingual, e.g., inhibition cost. Therefore, gesture rate does not necessarily change in contact situations but might be modulated by frequency of language use, proficiency, and cognitive factors related to being bilingual.
  • Barthel, M., & Sauppe, S. (2019). Speech planning at turn transitions in dialogue is associated with increased processing load. Cognitive Science, 43(7): e12768. doi:10.1111/cogs.12768.

    Abstract

    Speech planning is a sophisticated process. In dialog, it regularly starts in overlap with an incoming turn by a conversation partner. We show that planning spoken responses in overlap with incoming turns is associated with higher processing load than planning in silence. In a dialogic experiment, participants took turns with a confederate describing lists of objects. The confederate’s utterances (to which participants responded) were pre‐recorded and varied in whether they ended in a verb or an object noun and whether this ending was predictable or not. We found that response planning in overlap with sentence‐final verbs evokes larger task‐evoked pupillary responses, while end predictability had no effect. This finding indicates that planning in overlap leads to higher processing load for next speakers in dialog and that next speakers do not proactively modulate the time course of their response planning based on their predictions of turn endings. The turn‐taking system exerts pressure on the language processing system by pushing speakers to plan in overlap despite the ensuing increase in processing load.
  • Basnakova, J. (2019). Beyond the language given: The neurobiological infrastructure for pragmatic inferencing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Bekemeier, N., Brenner, D., Klepp, A., Biermann-Ruben, K., & Indefrey, P. (2019). Electrophysiological correlates of concept type shifts. PLoS One, 14(3): e0212624. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212624.

    Abstract

    A recent semantic theory of nominal concepts by Löbner [1] posits that–due to their inherent uniqueness and relationality properties–noun concepts can be classified into four concept types (CTs): sortal, individual, relational, functional. For sortal nouns the default determination is indefinite (a stone), for individual nouns it is definite (the sun), for relational and functional nouns it is possessive (his ear, his father). Incongruent determination leads to a concept type shift: his father (functional concept: unique, relational)–a father (sortal concept: non-unique, non-relational). Behavioral studies on CT shifts have demonstrated a CT congruence effect, with congruent determiners triggering faster lexical decision times on the subsequent noun than incongruent ones [2, 3]. The present ERP study investigated electrophysiological correlates of congruent and incongruent determination in German noun phrases, and specifically, whether the CT congruence effect could be indexed by such classic ERP components as N400, LAN or P600. If incongruent determination affects the lexical retrieval or semantic integration of the noun, it should be reflected in the amplitude of the N400 component. If, however, CT congruence is processed by the same neuronal mechanisms that underlie morphosyntactic processing, incongruent determination should trigger LAN or/and P600. These predictions were tested in two ERP studies. In Experiment 1, participants just listened to noun phrases. In Experiment 2, they performed a wellformedness judgment task. The processing of (in)congruent CTs (his sun vs. the sun) was compared to the processing of morphosyntactic and semantic violations in control conditions. Whereas the control conditions elicited classic electrophysiological violation responses (N400, LAN, & P600), CT-incongruences did not. Instead they showed novel concept-type specific response patterns. The absence of the classic ERP components suggests that CT-incongruent determination is not perceived as a violation of the semantic or morphosyntactic structure of the noun phrase.

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  • Bergelson*, E., Casillas*, M., Soderstrom, M., Seidl, A., Warlaumont, A. S., & Amatuni, A. (2019). What Do North American Babies Hear? A large-scale cross-corpus analysis. Developmental Science, 22(1): e12724. doi:10.1111/desc.12724.

    Abstract

    - * indicates joint first authorship - Abstract: A range of demographic variables influence how much speech young children hear. However, because studies have used vastly different sampling methods, quantitative comparison of interlocking demographic effects has been nearly impossible, across or within studies. We harnessed a unique collection of existing naturalistic, day-long recordings from 61 homes across four North American cities to examine language input as a function of age, gender, and maternal education. We analyzed adult speech heard by 3- to 20-month-olds who wore audio recorders for an entire day. We annotated speaker gender and speech register (child-directed or adult-directed) for 10,861 utterances from female and male adults in these recordings. Examining age, gender, and maternal education collectively in this ecologically-valid dataset, we find several key results. First, the speaker gender imbalance in the input is striking: children heard 2--3x more speech from females than males. Second, children in higher-maternal-education homes heard more child-directed speech than those in lower-maternal education homes. Finally, our analyses revealed a previously unreported effect: the proportion of child-directed speech in the input increases with age, due to a decrease in adult-directed speech with age. This large-scale analysis is an important step forward in collectively examining demographic variables that influence early development, made possible by pooled, comparable, day-long recordings of children's language environments. The audio recordings, annotations, and annotation software are readily available for re-use and re-analysis by other researchers.

    Supplementary material

    desc12724-sup-0001-supinfo.pdf
  • Blasi, D. E., Moran, S., Moisik, S. R., Widmer, P., Dediu, D., & Bickel, B. (2019). Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration. Science, 363(6432): eaav3218. doi:10.1126/science.aav3218.

    Abstract

    Linguistic diversity, now and in the past, is widely regarded to be independent of biological changes that took place after the emergence of Homo sapiens. We show converging evidence from paleoanthropology, speech biomechanics, ethnography, and historical linguistics that labiodental sounds (such as “f” and “v”) were innovated after the Neolithic. Changes in diet attributable to food-processing technologies modified the human bite from an edge-to-edge configuration to one that preserves adolescent overbite and overjet into adulthood. This change favored the emergence and maintenance of labiodentals. Our findings suggest that language is shaped not only by the contingencies of its history, but also by culturally induced changes in human biology.

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  • Bocanegra, B. R., Poletiek, F. H., Ftitache, B., & Clark, A. (2019). Intelligent problem-solvers externalize cognitive operations. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 136-142. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0509-y.

    Abstract

    Humans are nature’s most intelligent and prolific users of external props and aids (such as written texts, slide-rules and software packages). Here we introduce a method for investigating how people make active use of their task environment during problem-solving and apply this approach to the non-verbal Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test for fluid intelligence. We designed a click-and-drag version of the Raven test in which participants could create different external spatial configurations while solving the puzzles. In our first study, we observed that the click-and-drag test was better than the conventional static test at predicting academic achievement of university students. This pattern of results was partially replicated in a novel sample. Importantly, environment-altering actions were clustered in between periods of apparent inactivity, suggesting that problem-solvers were delicately balancing the execution of internal and external cognitive operations. We observed a systematic relationship between this critical phasic temporal signature and improved test performance. Our approach is widely applicable and offers an opportunity to quantitatively assess a powerful, although understudied, feature of human intelligence: our ability to use external objects, props and aids to solve complex problems.
  • Bode, S., Feuerriegel, D., Bennett, D., & Alday, P. M. (2019). The Decision Decoding ToolBOX (DDTBOX) -- A Multivariate Pattern Analysis Toolbox for Event-Related Potentials. Neuroinformatics, 17(1), 27-42. doi:10.1007/s12021-018-9375-z.

    Abstract

    In recent years, neuroimaging research in cognitive neuroscience has increasingly used multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate higher cognitive functions. Here we present DDTBOX, an open-source MVPA toolbox for electroencephalography (EEG) data. DDTBOX runs under MATLAB and is well integrated with the EEGLAB/ERPLAB and Fieldtrip toolboxes (Delorme and Makeig 2004; Lopez-Calderon and Luck 2014; Oostenveld et al. 2011). It trains support vector machines (SVMs) on patterns of event-related potential (ERP) amplitude data, following or preceding an event of interest, for classification or regression of experimental variables. These amplitude patterns can be extracted across space/electrodes (spatial decoding), time (temporal decoding), or both (spatiotemporal decoding). DDTBOX can also extract SVM feature weights, generate empirical chance distributions based on shuffled-labels decoding for group-level statistical testing, provide estimates of the prevalence of decodable information in the population, and perform a variety of corrections for multiple comparisons. It also includes plotting functions for single subject and group results. DDTBOX complements conventional analyses of ERP components, as subtle multivariate patterns can be detected that would be overlooked in standard analyses. It further allows for a more explorative search for information when no ERP component is known to be specifically linked to a cognitive process of interest. In summary, DDTBOX is an easy-to-use and open-source toolbox that allows for characterising the time-course of information related to various perceptual and cognitive processes. It can be applied to data from a large number of experimental paradigms and could therefore be a valuable tool for the neuroimaging community.
  • Bögels, S., Kendrick, K. H., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Conversational expectations get revised as response latencies unfold. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1590609.

    Abstract

    The present study extends neuro-imaging into conversation through studying dialogue comprehension. Conversation entails rapid responses, with negative semiotics for delay. We explored how expectations about the valence of the forthcoming response develop during the silence before the response and whether negative responses have mainly cognitive or social-emotional consequences. EEG-participants listened to questions from a spontaneous spoken corpus, cross-spliced with short/long gaps and “yes”/“no” responses. Preceding contexts biased listeners to expect the eventual response, which was hypothesised to translate to expectations for a shorter or longer gap. “No” responses showed a trend towards an early positivity, suggesting socio-emotional consequences. Within the long gap, expecting a “yes” response led to an earlier negativity, as well as a trend towards stronger theta-oscillations, after 300 milliseconds. This suggests that listeners anticipate/predict “yes” responses to come earlier than “no” responses, showing strong sensitivities to timing, which presumably promote hastening the pace of verbal interaction.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1590609_sm4630.docx
  • Bosker, H. R., Van Os, M., Does, R., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Counting 'uhm's: how tracking the distribution of native and non-native disfluencies influences online language comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 189-202. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.02.006.

    Abstract

    Disfluencies, like 'uh', have been shown to help listeners anticipate reference to low-frequency words. The associative account of this 'disfluency bias' proposes that listeners learn to associate disfluency with low-frequency referents based on prior exposure to non-arbitrary disfluency distributions (i.e., greater probability of low-frequency words after disfluencies). However, there is limited evidence for listeners actually tracking disfluency distributions online. The present experiments are the first to show that adult listeners, exposed to a typical or more atypical disfluency distribution (i.e., hearing a talker unexpectedly say uh before high-frequency words), flexibly adjust their predictive strategies to the disfluency distribution at hand (e.g., learn to predict high-frequency referents after disfluency). However, when listeners were presented with the same atypical disfluency distribution but produced by a non-native speaker, no adjustment was observed. This suggests pragmatic inferences can modulate distributional learning, revealing the flexibility of, and constraints on, distributional learning in incremental language comprehension.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Speaker-specific processing of anomalous utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(4), 764-778. doi:10.1177/1747021818765547.

    Abstract

    Existing work shows that readers often interpret grammatical errors (e.g., The key to the cabinets *were shiny) and sentence-level blends (“without-blend”: Claudia left without her headphones *off) in a non-literal fashion, inferring that a more frequent or more canonical utterance was intended instead. This work examines how interlocutor identity affects the processing and interpretation of anomalous sentences. We presented anomalies in the context of “emails” attributed to various writers in a self-paced reading paradigm and used comprehension questions to probe how sentence interpretation changed based upon properties of the item and properties of the “speaker.” Experiment 1 compared standardised American English speakers to L2 English speakers; Experiment 2 compared the same standardised English speakers to speakers of a non-Standardised American English dialect. Agreement errors and without-blends both led to more non-literal responses than comparable canonical items. For agreement errors, more non-literal interpretations also occurred when sentences were attributed to speakers of Standardised American English than either non-Standardised group. These data suggest that understanding sentences relies on expectations and heuristics about which utterances are likely. These are based upon experience with language, with speaker-specific differences, and upon more general cognitive biases.

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  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Incremental interpretation in the first and second language. In M. Brown, & B. Dailey (Eds.), BUCLD 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 109-122). Sommerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Brehm, L., Hussey, E., & Christianson, K. (2019). The role of word frequency and morpho-orthography in agreement processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1631456.

    Abstract

    Agreement attraction in comprehension (when an ungrammatical verb is read quickly if preceded by a feature-matching local noun) is well described by a cue-based retrieval framework. This suggests a role for lexical retrieval in attraction. To examine this, we manipulated two probabilistic factors known to affect lexical retrieval: local noun word frequency and morpho-orthography (agreement morphology realised with or without –s endings) in a self-paced reading study. Noun number and word frequency affected noun and verb region reading times, with higher-frequency words not eliciting attraction. Morpho-orthography impacted verb processing but not attraction: atypical plurals led to slower verb reading times regardless of verb number. Exploratory individual difference analyses further underscore the importance of lexical retrieval dynamics in sentence processing. This provides evidence that agreement operates via a cue-based retrieval mechanism over lexical representations that vary in their strength and association to number features.

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  • Carrion Castillo, A., Van der Haegen, L., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N., Kavaklioglu, T., Badillo, S., Chavent, M., Saracco, J., Brysbaert, M., Fisher, S. E., Mazoyer, B., & Francks, C. (2019). Genome sequencing for rightward hemispheric language dominance. Genes, Brain and Behavior. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/gbb.12572.

    Abstract

    Most people have left‐hemisphere dominance for various aspects of language processing, but only roughly 1% of the adult population has atypically reversed, rightward hemispheric language dominance (RHLD). The genetic‐developmental program that underlies leftward language laterality is unknown, as are the causes of atypical variation. We performed an exploratory whole‐genome‐sequencing study, with the hypothesis that strongly penetrant, rare genetic mutations might sometimes be involved in RHLD. This was by analogy with situs inversus of the visceral organs (left‐right mirror reversal of the heart, lungs and so on), which is sometimes due to monogenic mutations. The genomes of 33 subjects with RHLD were sequenced and analyzed with reference to large population‐genetic data sets, as well as 34 subjects (14 left‐handed) with typical language laterality. The sample was powered to detect rare, highly penetrant, monogenic effects if they would be present in at least 10 of the 33 RHLD cases and no controls, but no individual genes had mutations in more than five RHLD cases while being un‐mutated in controls. A hypothesis derived from invertebrate mechanisms of left‐right axis formation led to the detection of an increased mutation load, in RHLD subjects, within genes involved with the actin cytoskeleton. The latter finding offers a first, tentative insight into molecular genetic influences on hemispheric language dominance.

    Supplementary material

    gbb12572-sup-0001-AppendixS1.docx

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