Publications

Displaying 1 - 55 of 55
  • Barlas, P., Kyriakou, K., Guest, O., Kleanthous, S., & Otterbacher, J. (2021). To "see" is to stereotype: Image tagging algorithms, gender recognition, and the accuracy-fairness trade-off. Proceedings of the ACM on Human Computer Interaction, 4(CSCW3): 32. doi:10.1145/3432931.

    Abstract

    Machine-learned computer vision algorithms for tagging images are increasingly used by developers and researchers, having become popularized as easy-to-use "cognitive services." Yet these tools struggle with gender recognition, particularly when processing images of women, people of color and non-binary individuals. Socio-technical researchers have cited data bias as a key problem; training datasets often over-represent images of people and contexts that convey social stereotypes. The social psychology literature explains that people learn social stereotypes, in part, by observing others in particular roles and contexts, and can inadvertently learn to associate gender with scenes, occupations and activities. Thus, we study the extent to which image tagging algorithms mimic this phenomenon. We design a controlled experiment, to examine the interdependence between algorithmic recognition of context and the depicted person's gender. In the spirit of auditing to understand machine behaviors, we create a highly controlled dataset of people images, imposed on gender-stereotyped backgrounds. Our methodology is reproducible and our code publicly available. Evaluating five proprietary algorithms, we find that in three, gender inference is hindered when a background is introduced. Of the two that "see" both backgrounds and gender, it is the one whose output is most consistent with human stereotyping processes that is superior in recognizing gender. We discuss the accuracy--fairness trade-off, as well as the importance of auditing black boxes in better understanding this double-edged sword.
  • Birhane, A., & Guest, O. (2021). Towards decolonising computational sciences. Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, 29(2), 60-73. doi:10.7146/kkf.v29i2.124899.

    Abstract

    This article sets out our perspective on how to begin the journey of decolonising computational fi elds, such as data and cognitive sciences. We see this struggle as requiring two basic steps: a) realisation that the present-day system has inherited, and still enacts, hostile, conservative, and oppressive behaviours and principles towards women of colour; and b) rejection of the idea that centring individual people is a solution to system-level problems. The longer we ignore these two steps, the more “our” academic system maintains its toxic structure, excludes, and harms Black women and other minoritised groups. This also keeps the door open to discredited pseudoscience, like eugenics and physiognomy. We propose that grappling with our fi elds’ histories and heritage holds the key to avoiding mistakes of the past. In contrast to, for example, initiatives such as “diversity boards”, which can be harmful because they superfi cially appear reformatory but nonetheless center whiteness and maintain the status quo. Building on the work of many women of colour, we hope to advance the dialogue required to build both a grass-roots and a top-down re-imagining of computational sciences — including but not limited to psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, data science, statistics, machine learning, and artifi cial intelligence. We aspire to progress away from these fi elds’ stagnant, sexist, and racist shared past into an ecosystem that welcomes and nurtures demographically diverse researchers and ideas that critically challenge the status quo.
  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). The contribution of amplitude modulations in speech to perceived charisma. In B. Weiss, J. Trouvain, M. Barkat-Defradas, & J. J. Ohala (Eds.), Voice attractiveness: Prosody, phonology and phonetics (pp. 165-181). Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-15-6627-1_10.

    Abstract

    Speech contains pronounced amplitude modulations in the 1–9 Hz range, correlating with the syllabic rate of speech. Recent models of speech perception propose that this rhythmic nature of speech is central to speech recognition and has beneficial effects on language processing. Here, we investigated the contribution of amplitude modulations to the subjective impression listeners have of public speakers. The speech from US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the three TV debates of 2016 was acoustically analyzed by means of modulation spectra. These indicated that Clinton’s speech had more pronounced amplitude modulations than Trump’s speech, particularly in the 1–9 Hz range. A subsequent perception experiment, with listeners rating the perceived charisma of (low-pass filtered versions of) Clinton’s and Trump’s speech, showed that more pronounced amplitude modulations (i.e., more ‘rhythmic’ speech) increased perceived charisma ratings. These outcomes highlight the important contribution of speech rhythm to charisma perception.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Peeters, D. (2021). Beat gestures influence which speech sounds you hear. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288: 20202419. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2419.

    Abstract

    Beat gestures—spontaneously produced biphasic movements of the hand— are among the most frequently encountered co-speech gestures in human communication. They are closely temporally aligned to the prosodic charac- teristics of the speech signal, typically occurring on lexically stressed syllables. Despite their prevalence across speakers of the world’s languages, how beat gestures impact spoken word recognition is unclear. Can these simple ‘flicks of the hand’ influence speech perception? Across a range of experiments, we demonstrate that beat gestures influence the explicit and implicit perception of lexical stress (e.g. distinguishing OBject from obJECT), and in turn can influence what vowels listeners hear. Thus, we pro- vide converging evidence for a manual McGurk effect: relatively simple and widely occurring hand movements influence which speech sounds we hear

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    example stimuli and experimental data
  • Carota, F., Nili, H., Pulvermüller, F., & Kriegeskorte, N. (2021). Distinct fronto-temporal substrates of distributional and taxonomic similarity among words: Evidence from RSA of BOLD signals. NeuroImage, 224: 117408. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117408.

    Abstract

    A class of semantic theories defines concepts in terms of statistical distributions of lexical items, basing meaning on vectors of word co-occurrence frequencies. A different approach emphasizes abstract hierarchical taxonomic relationships among concepts. However, the functional relevance of these different accounts and how they capture information-encoding of meaning in the brain still remains elusive. We investigated to what extent distributional and taxonomic models explained word-elicited neural responses using cross-validated representational similarity analysis (RSA) of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and novel model comparisons. Our findings show that the brain encodes both types of semantic similarities, but in distinct cortical regions. Posterior middle temporal regions reflected word links based on hierarchical taxonomies, along with the action-relatedness of the semantic word categories. In contrast, distributional semantics best predicted the representational patterns in left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG, BA 47). Both representations coexisted in angular gyrus supporting semantic binding and integration. These results reveal that neuronal networks with distinct cortical distributions across higher-order association cortex encode different representational properties of word meanings. Taxonomy may shape long-term lexical-semantic representations in memory consistently with sensorimotor details of semantic categories, whilst distributional knowledge in the LIFG (BA 47) enable semantic combinatorics in the context of language use. Our approach helps to elucidate the nature of semantic representations essential for understanding human language.
  • Çetinçelik, M., Rowland, C. F., & Snijders, T. M. (2021). Do the eyes have it? A systematic review on the role of eye gaze in infant language development. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 589096. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589096.

    Abstract

    Eye gaze is a ubiquitous cue in child-caregiver interactions and infants are highly attentive to eye gaze from very early on. However, the question of why infants show gaze-sensitive behavior, and what role this sensitivity to gaze plays in their language development, is not yet well-understood. To gain a better understanding of the role of eye gaze in infants’ language learning, we conducted a broad systematic review of the developmental literature for all studies that investigate the role of eye gaze in infants’ language development. Across 77 peer-reviewed articles containing data from typically-developing human infants (0-24 months) in the domain of language development we identified two broad themes. The first tracked the effect of eye gaze on four developmental domains: (1) vocabulary development, (2) word-object mapping, (3) object processing, and (4) speech processing. Overall, there is considerable evidence that infants learn more about objects and are more likely to form word-object mappings in the presence of eye gaze cues, both of which are necessary for learning words. In addition, there is good evidence for longitudinal relationships between infants’ gaze following abilities and later receptive and expressive vocabulary. However, many domains (e.g. speech processing) are understudied; further work is needed to decide whether gaze effects are specific to tasks such as word-object mapping, or whether they reflect a general learning enhancement mechanism. The second theme explored the reasons why eye gaze might be facilitative for learning, addressing the question of whether eye gaze is treated by infants as a specialized socio-cognitive cue. We concluded that the balance of evidence supports the idea that eye gaze facilitates infants’ learning by enhancing their arousal, memory and attentional capacities to a greater extent than other low-level attentional cues. However, as yet, there are too few studies that directly compare the effect of eye gaze cues and non-social, attentional cues for strong conclusions to be drawn. We also suggest there might be a developmental effect, with eye gaze, over the course of the first two years of life, developing into a truly ostensive cue that enhances language learning across the board.

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    data sheet
  • Coopmans, C. W., De Hoop, H., Kaushik, K., Hagoort, P., & Martin, A. E. (2021). Structure-(in)dependent interpretation of phrases in humans and LSTMs. In Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL 2021) (pp. 459-463).

    Abstract

    In this study, we compared the performance of a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network to the behavior of human participants on a language task that requires hierarchically structured knowledge. We show that humans interpret ambiguous noun phrases, such as second blue ball, in line with their hierarchical constituent structure. LSTMs, instead, only do so after unambiguous training, and they do not systematically generalize to novel items. Overall, the results of our simulations indicate that a model can behave hierarchically without relying on hierarchical constituent structure.
  • Cuellar-Partida, G., Tung, J. Y., Eriksson, N., Albrecht, E., Aliev, F., Andreassen, O. A., Barroso, I., Beckmann, J. S., Boks, M. P., Boomsma, D. I., Boyd, H. A., Breteler, M. M. B., Campbell, H., Chasman, D. I., Cherkas, L. F., Davies, G., De Geus, E. J. C., Deary, I. J., Deloukas, P., Dick, D. M. and 98 moreCuellar-Partida, G., Tung, J. Y., Eriksson, N., Albrecht, E., Aliev, F., Andreassen, O. A., Barroso, I., Beckmann, J. S., Boks, M. P., Boomsma, D. I., Boyd, H. A., Breteler, M. M. B., Campbell, H., Chasman, D. I., Cherkas, L. F., Davies, G., De Geus, E. J. C., Deary, I. J., Deloukas, P., Dick, D. M., Duffy, D. L., Eriksson, J. G., Esko, T., Feenstra, B., Geller, F., Gieger, C., Giegling, I., Gordon, S. D., Han, J., Hansen, T. F., Hartmann, A. M., Hayward, C., Heikkilä, K., Hicks, A. A., Hirschhorn, J. N., Hottenga, J.-J., Huffman, J. E., Hwang, L.-D., Ikram, M. A., Kaprio, J., Kemp, J. P., Khaw, K.-T., Klopp, N., Konte, B., Kutalik, Z., Lahti, J., Li, X., Loos, R. J. F., Luciano, M., Magnusson, S. H., Mangino, M., Marques-Vidal, P., Martin, N. G., McArdle, W. L., McCarthy, M. I., Medina-Gomez, C., Melbye, M., Melville, S. A., Metspalu, A., Milani, L., Mooser, V., Nelis, M., Nyholt, D. R., O'Connell, K. S., Ophoff, R. A., Palmer, C., Palotie, A., Palviainen, T., Pare, G., Paternoster, L., Peltonen, L., Penninx, B. W. J. H., Polasek, O., Pramstaller, P. P., Prokopenko, I., Raikkonen, K., Ripatti, S., Rivadeneira, F., Rudan, I., Rujescu, D., Smit, J. H., Smith, G. D., Smoller, J. W., Soranzo, N., Spector, T. D., St Pourcain, B., Starr, J. M., Stefánsson, H., Steinberg, S., Teder-Laving, M., Thorleifsson, G., Stefansson, K., Timpson, N. J., Uitterlinden, A. G., Van Duijn, C. M., Van Rooij, F. J. A., Vink, J. M., Vollenweider, P., Vuoksimaa, E., Waeber, G., Wareham, N. J., Warrington, N., Waterworth, D., Werge, T., Wichmann, H.-E., Widen, E., Willemsen, G., Wright, A. F., Wright, M. J., Xu, M., Zhao, J. H., Kraft, P., Hinds, D. A., Lindgren, C. M., Magi, R., Neale, B. M., Evans, D. M., & Medland, S. E. (2021). Genome-wide association study identifies 48 common genetic variants associated with handedness. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 59-70. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-00956-y.

    Abstract

    Handedness has been extensively studied because of its relationship with language and the over-representation of left-handers in some neurodevelopmental disorders. Using data from the UK Biobank, 23andMe and the International Handedness Consortium, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of handedness (N = 1,766,671). We found 41 loci associated (P < 5 × 10−8) with left-handedness and 7 associated with ambidexterity. Tissue-enrichment analysis implicated the CNS in the aetiology of handedness. Pathways including regulation of microtubules and brain morphology were also highlighted. We found suggestive positive genetic correlations between left-handedness and neuropsychiatric traits, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the genetic correlation between left-handedness and ambidexterity is low (rG = 0.26), which implies that these traits are largely influenced by different genetic mechanisms. Our findings suggest that handedness is highly polygenic and that the genetic variants that predispose to left-handedness may underlie part of the association with some psychiatric disorders.

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    supplementary tables
  • Den Hoed, J., De Boer, E., Voisin, N., Dingemans, A. J. M., Guex, N., Wiel, L., Nellaker, C., Amudhavalli, S. M., Banka, S., Bena, F. S., Ben-Zeev, B., Bonagura, V. R., Bruel, A.-L., Brunet, T., Brunner, H. G., Chew, H. B., Chrast, J., Cimbalistienė, L., Coon, H., The DDD study, Délot, E. C. and 77 moreDen Hoed, J., De Boer, E., Voisin, N., Dingemans, A. J. M., Guex, N., Wiel, L., Nellaker, C., Amudhavalli, S. M., Banka, S., Bena, F. S., Ben-Zeev, B., Bonagura, V. R., Bruel, A.-L., Brunet, T., Brunner, H. G., Chew, H. B., Chrast, J., Cimbalistienė, L., Coon, H., The DDD study, Délot, E. C., Démurger, F., Denommé-Pichon, A.-S., Depienne, C., Donnai, D., Dyment, D. A., Elpeleg, O., Faivre, L., Gilissen, C., Granger, L., Haber, B., Hachiya, Y., Hamzavi Abedi, Y., Hanebeck, J., Hehir-Kwa, J. Y., Horist, B., Itai, T., Jackson, A., Jewell, R., Jones, K. L., Joss, S., Kashii, H., Kato, M., Kattentidt-Mouravieva, A. A., Kok, F., Kotzaeridou, U., Krishnamurthy, V., Kučinskas, V., Kuechler, A., Lavillaureix, A., Liu, P., Manwaring, L., Matsumoto, N., Mazel, B., McWalter, K., Meiner, V., Mikati, M. A., Miyatake, S., Mizuguchi, T., Moey, L. H., Mohammed, S., Mor-Shaked, H., Mountford, H., Newbury-Ecob, R., Odent, S., Orec, L., Osmond, M., Palculict, T. B., Parker, M., Petersen, A., Pfundt, R., Preikšaitienė, E., Radtke, K., Ranza, E., Rosenfeld, J. A., Santiago-Sim, T., Schwager, C., Sinnema, M., Snijders Blok, L., Spillmann, R. C., Stegmann, A. P. A., Thiffault, I., Tran, L., Vaknin-Dembinsky, A., Vedovato-dos-Santos, J. H., Vergano, S. A., Vilain, E., Vitobello, A., Wagner, M., Waheeb, A., Willing, M., Zuccarelli, B., Kini, U., Newbury, D. F., Kleefstra, T., Reymond, A., Fisher, S. E., & Vissers, L. E. L. M. (2021). Mutation-specific pathophysiological mechanisms define different neurodevelopmental disorders associated with SATB1 dysfunction. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 108(2), 346-356. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.01.007.

    Abstract

    Whereas large-scale statistical analyses can robustly identify disease-gene relationships, they do not accurately capture genotype-phenotype correlations or disease mechanisms. We use multiple lines of independent evidence to show that different variant types in a single gene, SATB1, cause clinically overlapping but distinct neurodevelopmental disorders. Clinical evaluation of 42 individuals carrying SATB1 variants identified overt genotype-phenotype relationships, associated with different pathophysiological mechanisms, established by functional assays. Missense variants in the CUT1 and CUT2 DNA-binding domains result in stronger chromatin binding, increased transcriptional repression and a severe phenotype. Contrastingly, variants predicted to result in haploinsufficiency are associated with a milder clinical presentation. A similarly mild phenotype is observed for individuals with premature protein truncating variants that escape nonsense-mediated decay and encode truncated proteins, which are transcriptionally active but mislocalized in the cell. Our results suggest that in-depth mutation-specific genotype-phenotype studies are essential to capture full disease complexity and to explain phenotypic variability.
  • Dima, D., Modabbernia, A., Papachristou, E., Doucet, G. E., Agartz, I., Aghajani, M., Akudjedu, T. N., Albajes‐Eizagirre, A., Alnæs, D., Alpert, K. I., Andersson, M., Andreasen, N. C., Andreassen, O. A., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bargallo, N., Baumeister, S., Baur‐Streubel, R., Bertolino, A., Bonvino, A. and 182 moreDima, D., Modabbernia, A., Papachristou, E., Doucet, G. E., Agartz, I., Aghajani, M., Akudjedu, T. N., Albajes‐Eizagirre, A., Alnæs, D., Alpert, K. I., Andersson, M., Andreasen, N. C., Andreassen, O. A., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bargallo, N., Baumeister, S., Baur‐Streubel, R., Bertolino, A., Bonvino, A., Boomsma, D. I., Borgwardt, S., Bourque, J., Brandeis, D., Breier, A., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Buckner, R. L., Calhoun, V., Canales‐Rodríguez, E. J., Cannon, D. M., Caseras, X., Castellanos, F. X., Cervenka, S., Chaim‐Avancini, T. M., Ching, C. R. K., Chubar, V., Clark, V. P., Conrod, P., Conzelmann, A., Crespo‐Facorro, B., Crivello, F., Crone, E. A., Dale, A. M., Davey, C., De Geus, E. J. C., De Haan, L., De Zubicaray, G. I., Den Braber, A., Dickie, E. W., Di Giorgio, A., Doan, N. T., Dørum, E. S., Ehrlich, S., Erk, S., Espeseth, T., Fatouros‐Bergman, H., Fisher, S. E., Fouche, J., Franke, B., Frodl, T., Fuentes‐Claramonte, P., Glahn, D. C., Gotlib, I. H., Grabe, H., Grimm, O., Groenewold, N. A., Grotegerd, D., Gruber, O., Gruner, P., Gur, R. E., Gur, R. C., Harrison, B. J., Hartman, C. A., Hatton, S. N., Heinz, A., Heslenfeld, D. J., Hibar, D. P., Hickie, I. B., Ho, B., Hoekstra, P. J., Hohmann, S., Holmes, A. J., Hoogman, M., Hosten, N., Howells, F. M., Pol, H. E. H., Huyser, C., Jahanshad, N., James, A., Jernigan, T. L., Jiang, J., Jönsson, E. G., Joska, J. A., Kahn, R., Kalnin, A., Kanai, R., Klein, M., Klyushnik, T. P., Koenders, L., Koops, S., Krämer, B., Kuntsi, J., Lagopoulos, J., Lázaro, L., Lebedeva, I., Lee, W. H., Lesch, K., Lochner, C., Machielsen, M. W. J., Maingault, S., Martin, N. G., Martínez‐Zalacaín, I., Mataix‐Cols, D., Mazoyer, B., McDonald, C., McDonald, B. C., McIntosh, A. M., McMahon, K. L., McPhilemy, G., Menchón, J. M., Medland, S. E., Meyer‐Lindenberg, A., Naaijen, J., Najt, P., Nakao, T., Nordvik, J. E., Nyberg, L., Oosterlaan, J., Ortiz‐García de la Foz, V., Paloyelis, Y., Pauli, P., Pergola, G., Pomarol‐Clotet, E., Portella, M. J., Potkin, S. G., Radua, J., Reif, A., Rinker, D. A., Roffman, J. L., Rosa, P. G. P., Sacchet, M. D., Sachdev, P. S., Salvador, R., Sánchez‐Juan, P., Sarró, S., Satterthwaite, T. D., Saykin, A. J., Serpa, M. H., Schmaal, L., Schnell, K., Schumann, G., Sim, K., Smoller, J. W., Sommer, I., Soriano‐Mas, C., Stein, D. J., Strike, L. T., Swagerman, S. C., Tamnes, C. K., Temmingh, H. S., Thomopoulos, S. I., Tomyshev, A. S., Tordesillas‐Gutiérrez, D., Trollor, J. N., Turner, J. A., Uhlmann, A., Van den Heuvel, O. A., Van den Meer, D., Van der Wee, N. J. A., Van Haren, N. E. M., Van't Ent, D., Van Erp, T. G. M., Veer, I. M., Veltman, D. J., Voineskos, A., Völzke, H., Walter, H., Walton, E., Wang, L., Wang, Y., Wassink, T. H., Weber, B., Wen, W., West, J. D., Westlye, L. T., Whalley, H., Wierenga, L. M., Williams, S. C. R., Wittfeld, K., Wolf, D. H., Worker, A., Wright, M. J., Yang, K., Yoncheva, Y., Zanetti, M. V., Ziegler, G. C., Thompson, P. M., Frangou, S., & Karolinska Schizophrenia Project (KaSP) (2021). Subcortical volumes across the lifespan: Data from 18,605 healthy individuals aged 3–90 years. Human Brain Mapping. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/hbm.25320.

    Abstract

    Age has a major effect on brain volume. However, the normative studies available are constrained by small sample sizes, restricted age coverage and significant methodological variability. These limitations introduce inconsistencies and may obscure or distort the lifespan trajectories of brain morphometry. In response, we capitalized on the resources of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to examine age‐related trajectories inferred from cross‐sectional measures of the ventricles, the basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens), the thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala using magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 18,605 individuals aged 3–90 years. All subcortical structure volumes were at their maximum value early in life. The volume of the basal ganglia showed a monotonic negative association with age thereafter; there was no significant association between age and the volumes of the thalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus (with some degree of decline in thalamus) until the sixth decade of life after which they also showed a steep negative association with age. The lateral ventricles showed continuous enlargement throughout the lifespan. Age was positively associated with inter‐individual variability in the hippocampus and amygdala and the lateral ventricles. These results were robust to potential confounders and could be used to examine the functional significance of deviations from typical age‐related morphometric patterns.
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2021). The longitudinal relationship between conversational turn-taking and vocabulary growth in early language development. Child Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/cdev.13511.

    Abstract

    Children acquire language embedded within the rich social context of interaction. This paper reports on a longitudinal study investigating the developmental relationship between conversational turn‐taking and vocabulary growth in English‐acquiring children (N = 122) followed between 9 and 24 months. Daylong audio recordings obtained every 3 months provided several indices of the language environment, including the number of adult words children heard in their environment and their number of conversational turns. Vocabulary was measured independently via parental report. Growth curve analyses revealed a bidirectional relationship between conversational turns and vocabulary growth, controlling for the amount of words in children’s environments. The results are consistent with theoretical approaches that identify social interaction as a core component of early language acquisition.
  • Doumas, L. A. A., & Martin, A. E. (2021). A model for learning structured representations of similarity and relative magnitude from experience. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 37, 158-166. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2021.01.001.

    Abstract

    How a system represents information tightly constrains the kinds of problems it can solve. Humans routinely solve problems that appear to require abstract representations of stimulus properties and relations. How we acquire such representations has central importance in an account of human cognition. We briefly describe a theory of how a system can learn invariant responses to instances of similarity and relative magnitude, and how structured, relational representations can be learned from initially unstructured inputs. Two operations, comparing distributed representations and learning from the concomitant network dynamics in time, underpin the ability to learn these representations and to respond to invariance in the environment. Comparing analog representations of absolute magnitude produces invariant signals that carry information about similarity and relative magnitude. We describe how a system can then use this information to bootstrap learning structured (i.e., symbolic) concepts of relative magnitude from experience without assuming such representations a priori.
  • Drijvers, L., Jensen, O., & Spaak, E. (2021). Rapid invisible frequency tagging reveals nonlinear integration of auditory and visual information. Human Brain Mapping, 42(4), 1138-1152. doi:10.1002/hbm.25282.

    Abstract

    During communication in real-life settings, the brain integrates information from auditory and visual modalities to form a unified percept of our environment. In the current magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we used rapid invisible frequency tagging (RIFT) to generate steady-state evoked fields and investigated the integration of audiovisual information in a semantic context. We presented participants with videos of an actress uttering action verbs (auditory; tagged at 61 Hz) accompanied by a gesture (visual; tagged at 68 Hz, using a projector with a 1440 Hz refresh rate). Integration ease was manipulated by auditory factors (clear/degraded speech) and visual factors (congruent/incongruent gesture). We identified MEG spectral peaks at the individual (61/68 Hz) tagging frequencies. We furthermore observed a peak at the intermodulation frequency of the auditory and visually tagged signals (fvisual – fauditory = 7 Hz), specifically when integration was easiest (i.e., when speech was clear and accompanied by a congruent gesture). This intermodulation peak is a signature of nonlinear audiovisual integration, and was strongest in left inferior frontal gyrus and left temporal regions; areas known to be involved in speech-gesture integration. The enhanced power at the intermodulation frequency thus reflects the ease of integration and demonstrates that speech-gesture information interacts in higher-order language areas. Furthermore, we provide a proof-of-principle of the use of RIFT to study the integration of audiovisual stimuli, in relation to, for instance, semantic context.
  • Duprez, J., Stokkermans, M., Drijvers, L., & Cohen, M. X. (2021). Synchronization between keyboard typing and neural oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01692.

    Abstract

    Rhythmic neural activity synchronizes with certain rhythmic behaviors, such as breathing, sniffing, saccades, and speech. The extent to which neural oscillations synchronize with higher-level and more complex behaviors is largely unknown. Here we investigated electrophysiological synchronization with keyboard typing, which is an omnipresent behavior daily engaged by an uncountably large number of people. Keyboard typing is rhythmic with frequency characteristics roughly the same as neural oscillatory dynamics associated with cognitive control, notably through midfrontal theta (4 -7 Hz) oscillations. We tested the hypothesis that synchronization occurs between typing and midfrontal theta, and breaks down when errors are committed. Thirty healthy participants typed words and sentences on a keyboard without visual feedback, while EEG was recorded. Typing rhythmicity was investigated by inter-keystroke interval analyses and by a kernel density estimation method. We used a multivariate spatial filtering technique to investigate frequency-specific synchronization between typing and neuronal oscillations. Our results demonstrate theta rhythmicity in typing (around 6.5 Hz) through the two different behavioral analyses. Synchronization between typing and neuronal oscillations occurred at frequencies ranging from 4 to 15 Hz, but to a larger extent for lower frequencies. However, peak synchronization frequency was idiosyncratic across subjects, therefore not specific to theta nor to midfrontal regions, and correlated somewhat with peak typing frequency. Errors and trials associated with stronger cognitive control were not associated with changes in synchronization at any frequency. As a whole, this study shows that brain-behavior synchronization does occur during keyboard typing but is not specific to midfrontal theta.
  • Eekhof, L. S., Kuijpers, M. M., Faber, M., Gao, X., Mak, M., Van den Hoven, E., & Willems, R. M. (2021). Lost in a story, detached from the words. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2020.1857619.

    Abstract

    This article explores the relationship between low- and high-level aspects of reading by studying the interplay between word processing, as measured with eye tracking, and narrative absorption and liking, as measured with questionnaires. Specifically, we focused on how individual differences in sensitivity to lexical word characteristics—measured as the effect of these characteristics on gaze duration—were related to narrative absorption and liking. By reanalyzing a large data set consisting of three previous eye-tracking experiments in which subjects (N = 171) read literary short stories, we replicated the well-established finding that word length, lemma frequency, position in sentence, age of acquisition, and orthographic neighborhood size of words influenced gaze duration. More importantly, we found that individual differences in the degree of sensitivity to three of these word characteristics, i.e., word length, lemma frequency, and age of acquisition, were negatively related to print exposure and to a lesser degree to narrative absorption and liking. Even though the underlying mechanisms of this relationship are still unclear, we believe the current findings underline the need to map out the interplay between, on the one hand, the technical and, on the other hand, the subjective processes of reading by studying reading behavior in more natural settings.

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    Analysis scripts and data
  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Are there core and peripheral syntactic structures? Experimental evidence from Dutch native speakers with varying literacy levels. Lingua, 251: 102991. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2020.102991.

    Abstract

    Some theorists posit the existence of a ‘core’ grammar that virtually all native speakers acquire, and a ‘peripheral’ grammar that many do not. We investigated the viability of such a categorical distinction in the Dutch language. We first consulted linguists’ intuitions as to the ‘core’ or ‘peripheral’ status of a wide range of grammatical structures. We then tested a selection of core- and peripheral-rated structures on naïve participants with varying levels of literacy experience, using grammaticality judgment as a proxy for receptive knowledge. Overall, participants demonstrated better knowledge of ‘core’ structures than ‘peripheral’ structures, but the considerable variability within these categories was strongly suggestive of a continuum rather than a categorical distinction between them. We also hypothesised that individual differences in the knowledge of core and peripheral structures would reflect participants’ literacy experience. This was supported only by a small trend in our data. The results fit best with the notion that more frequent syntactic structures are mastered by more people than infrequent ones and challenge the received sense of a categorical core-periphery distinction.
  • Fernandes, T., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). The role of the written script in shaping mirror-image discrimination: Evidence from illiterate, Tamil literate, and Tamil-Latin-alphabet bi-literate adults. Cognition, 206: 104493. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104493.

    Abstract

    Learning a script with mirrored graphs (e.g., d ≠ b) requires overcoming the evolutionary-old perceptual tendency to process mirror images as equivalent. Thus, breaking mirror invariance offers an important tool for understanding cultural re-shaping of evolutionarily ancient cognitive mechanisms. Here we investigated the role of script (i.e., presence vs. absence of mirrored graphs: Latin alphabet vs. Tamil) by revisiting mirror-image processing by illiterate, Tamil monoliterate, and Tamil-Latin-alphabet bi-literate adults. Participants performed two same-different tasks (one orientation-based, another shape-based) on Latin-alphabet letters. Tamil monoliterate were significantly better than illiterate and showed good explicit mirror-image discrimination. However, only bi-literate adults fully broke mirror invariance: slower shape-based judgments for mirrored than identical pairs and reduced disadvantage in orientation-based over shape-based judgments of mirrored pairs. These findings suggest learning a script with mirrored graphs is the strongest force for breaking mirror invariance.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Fink, B., Bläsing, B., Ravignani, A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2021). Evolution and functions of human dance. Evolution and Human Behavior. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2021.01.003.

    Abstract

    Dance is ubiquitous among humans and has received attention from several disciplines. Ethnographic documentation suggests that dance has a signaling function in social interaction. It can influence mate preferences and facilitate social bonds. Research has provided insights into the proximate mechanisms of dance, individually or when dancing with partners or in groups. Here, we review dance research from an evolutionary perspective. We propose that human dance evolved from ordinary (non-communicative) movements to communicate socially relevant information accurately. The need for accurate social signaling may have accompanied increases in group size and population density. Because of its complexity in production and display, dance may have evolved as a vehicle for expressing social and cultural information. Mating-related qualities and motives may have been the predominant information derived from individual dance movements, whereas group dance offers the opportunity for the exchange of socially relevant content, for coordinating actions among group members, for signaling coalitional strength, and for stabilizing group structures. We conclude that, despite the cultural diversity in dance movements and contexts, the primary communicative functions of dance may be the same across societies.
  • Frangou, S., Modabbernia, A., Williams, S. C. R., Papachristou, E., Doucet, G. E., Agartz, I., Aghajani, M., Akudjedu, T. N., Albajes‐Eizagirre, A., Alnæs, D., Alpert, K. I., Andersson, M., Andreasen, N. C., Andreassen, O. A., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bargallo, N., Baumeister, S., Baur‐Streubel, R., Bertolino, A. and 181 moreFrangou, S., Modabbernia, A., Williams, S. C. R., Papachristou, E., Doucet, G. E., Agartz, I., Aghajani, M., Akudjedu, T. N., Albajes‐Eizagirre, A., Alnæs, D., Alpert, K. I., Andersson, M., Andreasen, N. C., Andreassen, O. A., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bargallo, N., Baumeister, S., Baur‐Streubel, R., Bertolino, A., Bonvino, A., Boomsma, D. I., Borgwardt, S., Bourque, J., Brandeis, D., Breier, A., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Buckner, R. L., Calhoun, V., Canales‐Rodríguez, E. J., Cannon, D. M., Caseras, X., Castellanos, F. X., Cervenka, S., Chaim‐Avancini, T. M., Ching, C. R. K., Chubar, V., Clark, V. P., Conrod, P., Conzelmann, A., Crespo‐Facorro, B., Crivello, F., Crone, E. A., Dale, A. M., Davey, C., De Geus, E. J. C., De Haan, L., De Zubicaray, G. I., Den Braber, A., Dickie, E. W., Di Giorgio, A., Doan, N. T., Dørum, E. S., Ehrlich, S., Erk, S., Espeseth, T., Fatouros‐Bergman, H., Fisher, S. E., Fouche, J., Franke, B., Frodl, T., Fuentes‐Claramonte, P., Glahn, D. C., Gotlib, I. H., Grabe, H., Grimm, O., Groenewold, N. A., Grotegerd, D., Gruber, O., Gruner, P., Gur, R. E., Gur, R. C., Harrison, B. J., Hartman, C. A., Hatton, S. N., Heinz, A., Heslenfeld, D. J., Hibar, D. P., Hickie, I. B., Ho, B., Hoekstra, P. J., Hohmann, S., Holmes, A. J., Hoogman, M., Hosten, N., Howells, F. M., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Huyser, C., Jahanshad, N., James, A., Jernigan, T. L., Jiang, J., Jönsson, E. G., Joska, J. A., Kahn, R., Kalnin, A., Kanai, R., Klein, M., Klyushnik, T. P., Koenders, L., Koops, S., Krämer, B., Kuntsi, J., Lagopoulos, J., Lázaro, L., Lebedeva, I., Lee, W. H., Lesch, K., Lochner, C., Machielsen, M. W. J., Maingault, S., Martin, N. G., Martínez‐Zalacaín, I., Mataix‐Cols, D., Mazoyer, B., McDonald, C., McDonald, B. C., McIntosh, A. M., McMahon, K. L., McPhilemy, G., Menchón, J. M., Medland, S. E., Meyer‐Lindenberg, A., Naaijen, J., Najt, P., Nakao, T., Nordvik, J. E., Nyberg, L., Oosterlaan, J., Ortiz‐García Foz, V., Paloyelis, Y., Pauli, P., Pergola, G., Pomarol‐Clotet, E., Portella, M. J., Potkin, S. G., Radua, J., Reif, A., Rinker, D. A., Roffman, J. L., Rosa, P. G. P., Sacchet, M. D., Sachdev, P. S., Salvador, R., Sánchez‐Juan, P., Sarró, S., Satterthwaite, T. D., Saykin, A. J., Serpa, M. H., Schmaal, L., Schnell, K., Schumann, G., Sim, K., Smoller, J. W., Sommer, I., Soriano‐Mas, C., Stein, D. J., Strike, L. T., Swagerman, S. C., Tamnes, C. K., Temmingh, H. S., Thomopoulos, S. I., Tomyshev, A. S., Tordesillas‐Gutiérrez, D., Trollor, J. N., Turner, J. A., Uhlmann, A., Van den Heuvel, O. A., Van den Meer, D., Van der Wee, N. J. A., Van Haren, N. E. M., Van 't Ent, D., Van Erp, T. G. M., Veer, I. M., Veltman, D. J., Voineskos, A., Völzke, H., Walter, H., Walton, E., Wang, L., Wang, Y., Wassink, T. H., Weber, B., Wen, W., West, J. D., Westlye, L. T., Whalley, H., Wierenga, L. M., Wittfeld, K., Wolf, D. H., Worker, A., Wright, M. J., Yang, K., Yoncheva, Y., Zanetti, M. V., Ziegler, G. C., Thompson, P. M., & Dima, D. (2021). Cortical thickness across the lifespan: Data from 17,075 healthy individuals aged 3–90 years. Human Brain Mapping. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/hbm.25364.

    Abstract

    Delineating the association of age and cortical thickness in healthy individuals is critical given the association of cortical thickness with cognition and behavior. Previous research has shown that robust estimates of the association between age and brain morphometry require large‐scale studies. In response, we used cross‐sectional data from 17,075 individuals aged 3–90 years from the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to infer age‐related changes in cortical thickness. We used fractional polynomial (FP) regression to quantify the association between age and cortical thickness, and we computed normalized growth centiles using the parametric Lambda, Mu, and Sigma method. Interindividual variability was estimated using meta‐analysis and one‐way analysis of variance. For most regions, their highest cortical thickness value was observed in childhood. Age and cortical thickness showed a negative association; the slope was steeper up to the third decade of life and more gradual thereafter; notable exceptions to this general pattern were entorhinal, temporopolar, and anterior cingulate cortices. Interindividual variability was largest in temporal and frontal regions across the lifespan. Age and its FP combinations explained up to 59% variance in cortical thickness. These results may form the basis of further investigation on normative deviation in cortical thickness and its significance for behavioral and cognitive outcomes.
  • Guadalupe, T., Kong, X., Akkermans, S. E. A., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2021). Relations between hemispheric asymmetries of grey matter and auditory processing of spoken syllables in 281 healthy adults. Brain Structure & Function. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s00429-021-02220-z.

    Abstract

    Most people have a right-ear advantage for the perception of spoken syllables, consistent with left hemisphere dominance for speech processing. However, there is considerable variation, with some people showing left-ear advantage. The extent to which this variation is reflected in brain structure remains unclear. We tested for relations between hemispheric asymmetries of auditory processing and of grey matter in 281 adults, using dichotic listening and voxel-based morphometry. This was the largest study of this issue to date. Per-voxel asymmetry indexes were derived for each participant following registration of brain magnetic resonance images to a template that was symmetrized. The asymmetry index derived from dichotic listening was related to grey matter asymmetry in clusters of voxels corresponding to the amygdala and cerebellum lobule VI. There was also a smaller, non-significant cluster in the posterior superior temporal gyrus, a region of auditory cortex. These findings contribute to the mapping of asymmetrical structure–function links in the human brain and suggest that subcortical structures should be investigated in relation to hemispheric dominance for speech processing, in addition to auditory cortex.

    Additional information

    supplementary information
  • Guest, O., & Martin, A. E. (2021). How computational modeling can force theory building in psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1745691620970585.

    Abstract

    Psychology endeavors to develop theories of human capacities and behaviors on the basis of a variety of methodologies and dependent measures. We argue that one of the most divisive factors in psychological science is whether researchers choose to use computational modeling of theories (over and above data) during the scientific-inference process. Modeling is undervalued yet holds promise for advancing psychological science. The inherent demands of computational modeling guide us toward better science by forcing us to conceptually analyze, specify, and formalize intuitions that otherwise remain unexamined—what we dub open theory. Constraining our inference process through modeling enables us to build explanatory and predictive theories. Here, we present scientific inference in psychology as a path function in which each step shapes the next. Computational modeling can constrain these steps, thus advancing scientific inference over and above the stewardship of experimental practice (e.g., preregistration). If psychology continues to eschew computational modeling, we predict more replicability crises and persistent failure at coherent theory building. This is because without formal modeling we lack open and transparent theorizing. We also explain how to formalize, specify, and implement a computational model, emphasizing that the advantages of modeling can be achieved by anyone with benefit to all.
  • Janse, E., & Andringa, S. J. (2021). The roles of cognitive abilities and hearing acuity in older adults’ recognition of words taken from fast and spectrally reduced speech. Applied Psycholinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0142716421000047.

    Abstract

    Previous literature has identified several cognitive abilities as predictors of individual differences in speech perception. Working memory was chief among them, but effects have also been found for processing speed. Most research has been conducted on speech in noise, but fast and unclear articulation also makes listening challenging, particularly for older listeners. As a first step toward specifying the cognitive mechanisms underlying spoken word recognition, we set up this study to determine which factors explain unique variation in word identification accuracy in fast speech, and the extent to which this was affected by further degradation of the speech signal. To that end, 105 older adults were tested on identification accuracy of fast words in unaltered and degraded conditions in which the speech stimuli were low-pass filtered. They were also tested on processing speed, memory, vocabulary knowledge, and hearing sensitivity. A structural equation analysis showed that only memory and hearing sensitivity explained unique variance in word recognition in both listening conditions. Working memory was more strongly associated with performance in the unfiltered than in the filtered condition. These results suggest that memory skills, rather than speed, facilitate the mapping of single words onto stored lexical representations, particularly in conditions of medium difficulty.
  • Kaufeld, G. (2021). Investigating spoken language comprehension as perceptual inference. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Lattenkamp, E. Z., Nagy, M., Drexl, M., Vernes, S. C., Wiegrebe, L., & Knörnschild, M. (2021). Hearing sensitivity and amplitude coding in bats are differentially shaped by echolocation calls and social calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1942): 20202600. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2600.

    Abstract

    Differences in auditory perception between species are influenced by phylogenetic origin and the perceptual challenges imposed by the natural environment, such as detecting prey- or predator-generated sounds and communication signals. Bats are well suited for comparative studies on auditory perception since they predominantly rely on echolocation to perceive the world, while their social calls and most environmental sounds have low frequencies. We tested if hearing sensitivity and stimulus level coding in bats differ between high and low-frequency ranges by measuring auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) of 86 bats belonging to 11 species. In most species, auditory sensitivity was equally good at both high- and low-frequency ranges, while amplitude was more finely coded for higher frequency ranges. Additionally, we conducted a phylogenetic comparative analysis by combining our ABR data with published data on 27 species. Species-specific peaks in hearing sensitivity correlated with peak frequencies of echolocation calls and pup isolation calls, suggesting that changes in hearing sensitivity evolved in response to frequency changes of echolocation and social calls. Overall, our study provides the most comprehensive comparative assessment of bat hearing capacities to date and highlights the evolutionary pressures acting on their sensory perception.

    Additional information

    data
  • Lopopolo, A. (2021). Properties, structures and operations: Studies on language processing in the brain using computational linguistics and naturalistic stimuli. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Manhardt, F. (2021). A tale of two modalities. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Manhardt, F., Brouwer, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). A tale of two modalities: Sign and speech influence in each other in bimodal bilinguals. Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0956797620968789.

    Abstract

    Bimodal bilinguals are hearing individuals fluent in a sign and a spoken language. Can the two languages influence each other in such individuals despite differences in the visual (sign) and vocal (speech) modalities of expression? We investigated cross-linguistic influences on bimodal bilinguals’ expression of spatial relations. Unlike spoken languages, sign uses iconic linguistic forms that resemble physical features of objects in a spatial relation and thus expresses specific semantic information. Hearing bimodal bilinguals (n = 21) fluent in Dutch and Sign Language of the Netherlands and their hearing nonsigning and deaf signing peers (n = 20 each) described left/right relations between two objects. Bimodal bilinguals expressed more specific information about physical features of objects in speech than nonsigners, showing influence from sign language. They also used fewer iconic signs with specific semantic information than deaf signers, demonstrating influence from speech. Bimodal bilinguals’ speech and signs are shaped by two languages from different modalities.

    Additional information

    supplementary materials
  • Mickan, A. (2021). What was that Spanish word again? Investigations into the cognitive mechanisms underlying foreign language attrition. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Mickan, A., McQueen, J. M., Valentini, B., Piai, V., & Lemhöfer, K. (2021). Electrophysiological evidence for cross-language interference in foreign-language attrition. Neuropsychologia. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107795.

    Abstract

    Foreign language attrition (FLA) appears to be driven by interference from other, more recently-used languages (Mickan et al., 2020). Here we tracked these interference dynamics electrophysiologically to further our understanding of the underlying processes. Twenty-seven Dutch native speakers learned 70 new Italian words over two days. On a third day, EEG was recorded as they performed naming tasks on half of these words in English and, finally, as their memory for all the Italian words was tested in a picture-naming task. Replicating Mickan et al., recall was slower and tended to be less complete for Italian words that were interfered with (i.e., named in English) than for words that were not. These behavioral interference effects were accompanied by an enhanced frontal N2 and a decreased late positivity (LPC) for interfered compared to not-interfered items. Moreover, interfered items elicited more theta power. We also found an increased N2 during the interference phase for items that participants were later slower to retrieve in Italian. We interpret the N2 and theta effects as markers of interference, in line with the idea that Italian retrieval at final test is hampered by competition from recently practiced English translations. The LPC, in turn, reflects the consequences of interference: the reduced accessibility of interfered Italian labels. Finally, that retrieval ease at final test was related to the degree of interference during previous English retrieval shows that FLA is already set in motion during the interference phase, and hence can be the direct consequence of using other languages.

    Additional information

    data via Donders Repository
  • Ota, M., San Jose, A., & Smith, K. (2021). The emergence of word-internal repetition through iterated learning: Explaining the mismatch between learning biases and language design. Cognition, 210: 104585. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104585.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary data data
  • Preisig, B., Riecke, L., Sjerps, M. J., Kösem, A., Kop, B. R., Bramson, B., Hagoort, P., & Hervais-Adelman, A. (2021). Selective modulation of interhemispheric connectivity by transcranial alternating current stimulation influences binaural integration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(7): e2015488118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2015488118.

    Abstract

    Brain connectivity plays a major role in the encoding, transfer, and integration of sensory information. Interregional synchronization of neural oscillations in the γ-frequency band has been suggested as a key mechanism underlying perceptual integration. In a recent study, we found evidence for this hypothesis showing that the modulation of interhemispheric oscillatory synchrony by means of bihemispheric high-density transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-TACS) affects binaural integration of dichotic acoustic features. Here, we aimed to establish a direct link between oscillatory synchrony, effective brain connectivity, and binaural integration. We experimentally manipulated oscillatory synchrony (using bihemispheric γ-TACS with different interhemispheric phase lags) and assessed the effect on effective brain connectivity and binaural integration (as measured with functional MRI and a dichotic listening task, respectively). We found that TACS reduced intrahemispheric connectivity within the auditory cortices and antiphase (interhemispheric phase lag 180°) TACS modulated connectivity between the two auditory cortices. Importantly, the changes in intra- and interhemispheric connectivity induced by TACS were correlated with changes in perceptual integration. Our results indicate that γ-band synchronization between the two auditory cortices plays a functional role in binaural integration, supporting the proposed role of interregional oscillatory synchrony in perceptual integration.
  • Puebla, G., Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2021). The relational processing limits of classic and contemporary neural network models of language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(2), 240-254. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1821906.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Ravignani, A., & De Boer, B. (2021). Joint origins of speech and music: Testing evolutionary hypotheses on modern humans. Semiotica. Advance online publication. doi:10.1515/sem-2019-0048.

    Abstract

    How music and speech evolved is a mystery. Several hypotheses on their origins, including one on their joint origins, have been put forward but rarely tested. Here we report and comment on the first experiment testing the hypothesis that speech and music bifurcated from a common system. We highlight strengths of the reported experiment, point out its relatedness to animal work, and suggest three alternative interpretations of its results. We conclude by sketching a future empirical programme extending this work.
  • Raviv, L., De Heer Kloots, M., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). What makes a language easy to learn? A preregistered study on how systematic structure and community size affect language learnability. Cognition, 210: 104620. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104620.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Redl, T. (2021). Masculine generic pronouns: Investigating the processing of an unintended gender cue. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Rossi, G., & Stivers, T. (2021). Category-sensitive actions in interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 84(1), 49-74. doi:10.1177/0190272520944595.

    Abstract

    This article is concerned with how social categories (e.g., wife, mother, sister, tenant, guest) become visible through the actions that individuals perform in social interaction. Using audio and video recordings of social interaction as data and conversation analysis as a method, we examine how individuals display their rights or constraints to perform certain actions by virtue of occupying a certain social category. We refer to actions whose performance is sensitive to membership in a certain social category as category-sensitive actions. Most of the time, the social boundaries surrounding these actions remain invisible because participants in interaction typically act in ways that are consistent with their social status and roles. In this study, however, we specifically examine instances where category boundaries become visible as participants approach, expose, or transgress them. Our focus is on actions with relatively stringent category sensitivity such as requests, offers, invitations, or handling one’s possessions. Ultimately, we believe these are the tip of an iceberg that potentially includes most, if not all, actions.
  • San Jose, A., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Modeling the distributional dynamics of attention and semantic interference in word production. Cognition, 211: 104636. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104636.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Contrary to received opinion, the Aristotelian Square of Opposition (square) is logically sound, differing from standard modern predicate logic (SMPL) only in that it restricts the universe U of cognitively constructible situations by banning null predicates, making it less unnatural than SMPL. U-restriction strengthens the logic without making it unsound. It also invites a cognitive approach to logic. Humans are endowed with a cognitive predicate logic (CPL), which checks the process of cognitive modelling (world construal) for consistency. The square is considered a first approximation to CPL, with a cognitive set-theoretic semantics. Not being cognitively real, the null set Ø is eliminated from the semantics of CPL. Still rudimentary in Aristotle’s On Interpretation (Int), the square was implicitly completed in his Prior Analytics (PrAn), thereby introducing U-restriction. Abelard’s reconstruction of the logic of Int is logically and historically correct; the loca (Leaking O-Corner Analysis) interpretation of the square, defended by some modern logicians, is logically faulty and historically untenable. Generally, U-restriction, not redefining the universal quantifier, as in Abelard and loca, is the correct path to a reconstruction of CPL. Valuation Space modelling is used to compute the effects of U-restriction.
  • Shkaravska, O., & Van Eekelen, M. (2021). Polynomial solutions of algebraic difference equations and homogeneous symmetric polynomials. Journal of Symbolic Computation, 103, 22-45. doi:10.1016/j.jsc.2019.10.022.

    Abstract

    This article addresses the problem of computing an upper bound of the degree d of a polynomial solution P(x) of an algebraic differ- ence equation of the form Gx)(P(x −τ1), . . . , P(x −τs) + G0(x) = 0 when such P(x) with the coefficients in a field K of character- istic zero exists and where G is a non-linear s-variable polynomial with coefficients in K[x] and G0 is a polynomial with coefficients in K. It will be shown that if G is a quadratic polynomial with constant coefficients then one can construct a countable family of polynomi- als fl(u0) such that if there exists a (minimal) index l0 with fl0(u0) being a non-zero polynomial, then the degree d is one of its roots or d ≤ l0, or d < deg(G0). Moreover, the existence of such l0 will be proven for K being the field of real numbers. These results are based on the properties of the modules generated by special fami- lies of homogeneous symmetric polynomials. A sufficient condition for the existence of a similar bound of the degree of a polynomial solution for an algebraic difference equation with G of arbitrary total degree and with variable coefficients will be proven as well.
  • Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2021). The effect of orthographic systems on the developing reading system: Typological and computational analyses. Psychological Review, 128(1), 125-159. doi:10.1037/rev0000257.

    Abstract

    Orthographic systems vary dramatically in the extent to which they encode a language’s phonological and lexico-semantic structure. Studies of the effects of orthographic transparency suggest that such variation is likely to have major implications for how the reading system operates. However, such studies have been unable to examine in isolation the contributory effect of transparency on reading due to co-varying linguistic or socio-cultural factors. We first investigated the phonological properties of languages using the range of the world’s orthographic systems (alphabetic; alphasyllabic; consonantal; syllabic; logographic), and found that, once geographical proximity is taken into account, phonological properties do not relate to orthographic system. We then explored the processing implications of orthographic variation by training a connectionist implementation of the triangle model of reading on the range of orthographic systems whilst controlling for phonological and semantic structure. We show that the triangle model is effective as a universal model of reading, able to replicate key behavioural and neuroscientific results. Importantly, the model also generates new predictions deriving from an explicit description of the effects of orthographic transparency on how reading is realised and defines the consequences of orthographic systems on reading processes.
  • Sønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S. and 83 moreSønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S., Ciufolini, S., Craig, M. C., Crespo‐Facorro, B., Cunningham, A. C., Dale, A. M., Dazzan, P., De Zubicaray, G. I., Djurovic, S., Doherty, J. L., Donohoe, G., Draganski, B., Durdle, C. A., Ehrlich, S., Emanuel, B. S., Espeseth, T., Fisher, S. E., Ge, T., Glahn, D. C., Grabe, H. J., Gur, R. E., Gutman, B. A., Haavik, J., Håberg, A. K., Hansen, L. A., Hashimoto, R., Hibar, D. P., Holmes, A. J., Hottenga, J., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Jalbrzikowski, M., Knowles, E. E. M., Kushan, L., Linden, D. E. J., Liu, J., Lundervold, A. J., Martin‐Brevet, S., Martínez, K., Mather, K. A., Mathias, S. R., McDonald‐McGinn, D. M., McRae, A. F., Medland, S. E., Moberget, T., Modenato, C., Monereo Sánchez, J., Moreau, C. A., Mühleisen, T. W., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Prieto, C., Ragothaman, A., Reinbold, C. S., Reis Marques, T., Repetto, G. M., Reymond, A., Roalf, D. R., Rodriguez‐Herreros, B., Rucker, J. J., Sachdev, P. S., Schmitt, J. E., Schofield, P. R., Silva, A. I., Stefansson, H., Stein, D. J., Tamnes, C. K., Tordesillas‐Gutiérrez, D., Ulfarsson, M. O., Vajdi, A., Van 't Ent, D., Van den Bree, M. B. M., Vassos, E., Vázquez‐Bourgon, J., Vila‐Rodriguez, F., Walters, G. B., Wen, W., Westlye, L. T., Wittfeld, K., Zackai, E. H., Stefánsson, K., Jacquemont, S., Thompson, P. M., Bearden, C. E., & Andreassen, O. A. (2021). Effects of copy number variations on brain structure and risk for psychiatric illness: Large‐scale studies from the ENIGMAworking groups on CNVs. Human Brain Mapping. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/hbm.25354.

    Abstract

    The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis copy number variant (ENIGMA‐CNV) and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Groups (22q‐ENIGMA WGs) were created to gain insight into the involvement of genetic factors in human brain development and related cognitive, psychiatric and behavioral manifestations. To that end, the ENIGMA‐CNV WG has collated CNV and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from ~49,000 individuals across 38 global research sites, yielding one of the largest studies to date on the effects of CNVs on brain structures in the general population. The 22q‐ENIGMA WG includes 12 international research centers that assessed over 533 individuals with a confirmed 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 40 with 22q11.2 duplications, and 333 typically developing controls, creating the largest‐ever 22q11.2 CNV neuroimaging data set. In this review, we outline the ENIGMA infrastructure and procedures for multi‐site analysis of CNVs and MRI data. So far, ENIGMA has identified effects of the 22q11.2, 16p11.2 distal, 15q11.2, and 1q21.1 distal CNVs on subcortical and cortical brain structures. Each CNV is associated with differences in cognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits, with characteristic patterns of brain structural abnormalities. Evidence of gene‐dosage effects on distinct brain regions also emerged, providing further insight into genotype–phenotype relationships. Taken together, these results offer a more comprehensive picture of molecular mechanisms involved in typical and atypical brain development. This “genotype‐first” approach also contributes to our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of brain disorders. Finally, we outline future directions to better understand effects of CNVs on brain structure and behavior.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2021). Word segmentation cues in German child-directed speech: A corpus analysis. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830920979016.

    Abstract

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

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  • Todorova, L. (2021). Language bias in visually driven decisions: Computational neurophysiological mechanisms. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Trompenaars, T. (2021). Bringing stories to life: Animacy in narrative and processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Vágvölgyi, R., Bergström, K., Bulajić, A., Klatte, M., Fernandes, T., Grosche, M., Huettig, F., Rüsseler, J., & Lachmann, T. (2021). Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00074-9.

    Abstract

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

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  • Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Does neuronal recycling result in destructive competition? The influence of learning to read on the recognition of faces. Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0956797620971652.

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

    In two ERP experiments, we investigated whether readers prioritize animacy over real-world event-knowledge during sentence comprehension. We used the paradigm of Paczynski and Kuperberg (2012), who argued that animacy is prioritized based on the observations that the ‘related anomaly effect’ (reduced N400s for context-related anomalous words compared to unrelated words) does not occur for animacy violations, and that animacy violations but not relatedness violations elicit P600 effects. Participants read passive sentences with plausible agents (e.g., The prescription for the mental disorder was written by the psychiatrist) or implausible agents that varied in animacy and semantic relatedness (schizophrenic/guard/pill/fence). In Experiment 1 (with a plausibility judgment task), plausible sentences elicited smaller N400s relative to all types of implausible sentences. Crucially, animate words elicited smaller N400s than inanimate words, and related words elicited smaller N400s than unrelated words, but Bayesian analysis revealed substantial evidence against an interaction between animacy and relatedness. Moreover, at the P600 time-window, we observed more positive ERPs for animate than inanimate words and for related than unrelated words at anterior regions. In Experiment 2 (without judgment task), we observed an N400 effect with animacy violations, but no other effects. Taken together, the results of our experiments fail to support a prioritized role of animacy information over real-world event-knowledge, but they support an interactive, constraint-based view on incremental semantic processing.
  • Verhoef, E. (2021). Why do we change how we speak? Multivariate genetic analyses of language and related traits across development and disorder. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Verhoef, E., Shapland, C. Y., Fisher, S. E., Dale, P. S., & St Pourcain, B. (2021). The developmental genetic architecture of vocabulary skills during the first three years of life: Capturing emerging associations with later-life reading and cognition. PLoS Genetics, 17(2): e1009144. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009144.

    Abstract

    Individual differences in early-life vocabulary measures are heritable and associated with subsequent reading and cognitive abilities, although the underlying mechanisms are little understood. Here, we (i) investigate the developmental genetic architecture of expressive and receptive vocabulary in early-life and (ii) assess timing of emerging genetic associations with mid-childhood verbal and non-verbal skills. We studied longitudinally assessed early-life vocabulary measures (15–38 months) and later-life verbal and non-verbal skills (7–8 years) in up to 6,524 unrelated children from the population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. We dissected the phenotypic variance of rank-transformed scores into genetic and residual components by fitting multivariate structural equation models to genome-wide genetic-relationship matrices. Our findings show that the genetic architecture of early-life vocabulary involves multiple distinct genetic factors. Two of these genetic factors are developmentally stable and also contribute to genetic variation in mid-childhood skills: One genetic factor emerging with expressive vocabulary at 24 months (path coefficient: 0.32(SE = 0.06)) was also related to later-life reading (path coefficient: 0.25(SE = 0.12)) and verbal intelligence (path coefficient: 0.42(SE = 0.13)), explaining up to 17.9% of the phenotypic variation. A second, independent genetic factor emerging with receptive vocabulary at 38 months (path coefficient: 0.15(SE = 0.07)), was more generally linked to verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities in mid-childhood (reading path coefficient: 0.57(SE = 0.07); verbal intelligence path coefficient: 0.60(0.10); performance intelligence path coefficient: 0.50(SE = 0.08)), accounting for up to 36.1% of the phenotypic variation and the majority of genetic variance in these later-life traits (≥66.4%). Thus, the genetic foundations of mid-childhood reading and cognitive abilities are diverse. They involve at least two independent genetic factors that emerge at different developmental stages during early language development and may implicate differences in cognitive processes that are already detectable during toddlerhood.

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  • Von Holzen, K., & Bergmann, C. (2021). The development of infants’ responses to mispronunciations: A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 57(1), 1-18. doi:10.1037/dev0001141.

    Abstract

    As they develop into mature speakers of their native language, infants must not only learn words but also the sounds that make up those words. To do so, they must strike a balance between accepting speaker dependent variation (e.g. mood, voice, accent), but appropriately rejecting variation when it (potentially) changes a word's meaning (e.g. cat vs. hat). This meta-analysis focuses on studies investigating infants' ability to detect mispronunciations in familiar words, or mispronunciation sensitivity. Our goal was to evaluate the development of infants' phonological representations for familiar words as well as explore the role of experimental manipulations related to theoretical questions and analysis choices. The results show that although infants are sensitive to mispronunciations, they still accept these altered forms as labels for target objects. Interestingly, this ability is not modulated by age or vocabulary size, suggesting that a mature understanding of native language phonology may be present in infants from an early age, possibly before the vocabulary explosion. These results also support several theoretical assumptions made in the literature, such as sensitivity to mispronunciation size and position of the mispronunciation. We also shed light on the impact of data analysis choices that may lead to different conclusions regarding the development of infants' mispronunciation sensitivity. Our paper concludes with recommendations for improved practice in testing infants' word and sentence processing on-line.
  • Zhong, S., Wei, L., Zhao, C., Yang, L., Di, Z., Francks, C., & Gong, G. (2021). Interhemispheric relationship of genetic influence on human brain connectivity. Cerebral Cortex, 31(1), 77-88. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa207.

    Abstract

    To understand the origins of interhemispheric differences and commonalities/coupling in human brain wiring, it is crucial to determine how homologous interregional connectivities of the left and right hemispheres are genetically determined and related. To address this, in the present study, we analyzed human twin and pedigree samples with high-quality diffusion magnetic resonance imaging tractography and estimated the heritability and genetic correlation of homologous left and right white matter (WM) connections. The results showed that the heritability of WM connectivity was similar and coupled between the 2 hemispheres and that the degree of overlap in genetic factors underlying homologous WM connectivity (i.e., interhemispheric genetic correlation) varied substantially across the human brain: from complete overlap to complete nonoverlap. Particularly, the heritability was significantly stronger and the chance of interhemispheric complete overlap in genetic factors was higher in subcortical WM connections than in cortical WM connections. In addition, the heritability and interhemispheric genetic correlations were stronger for long-range connections than for short-range connections. These findings highlight the determinants of the genetics underlying WM connectivity and its interhemispheric relationships, and provide insight into genetic basis of WM connectivity asymmetries in both healthy and disease states.

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