Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 473
  • Abbot-Smith, K., Chang, F., Rowland, C. F., Ferguson, H., & Pine, J. (2017). Do two and three year old children use an incremental first-NP-as-agent bias to process active transitive and passive sentences?: A permutation analysis. PLoS One, 12(10): e0186129. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0186129.

    Abstract

    We used eye-tracking to investigate if and when children show an incremental bias to assume that the first noun phrase in a sentence is the agent (first-NP-as-agent bias) while processing the meaning of English active and passive transitive sentences. We also investigated whether children can override this bias to successfully distinguish active from passive sentences, after processing the remainder of the sentence frame. For this second question we used eye-tracking (Study 1) and forced-choice pointing (Study 2). For both studies, we used a paradigm in which participants simultaneously saw two novel actions with reversed agent-patient relations while listening to active and passive sentences. We compared English-speaking 25-month-olds and 41-month-olds in between-subjects sentence structure conditions (Active Transitive Condition vs. Passive Condition). A permutation analysis found that both age groups showed a bias to incrementally map the first noun in a sentence onto an agent role. Regarding the second question, 25-month-olds showed some evidence of distinguishing the two structures in the eye-tracking study. However, the 25-month-olds did not distinguish active from passive sentences in the forced choice pointing task. In contrast, the 41-month-old children did reanalyse their initial first-NP-as-agent bias to the extent that they clearly distinguished between active and passive sentences both in the eye-tracking data and in the pointing task. The results are discussed in relation to the development of syntactic (re)parsing.

    Additional information

    Data available from OSF
  • Abdel Rahman, R., & Sommer, W. (2003). Does phonological encoding in speech production always follow the retrieval of semantic knowledge?: Electrophysiological evidence for parallel processing. Cognitive Brain Research, 16(3), 372-382. doi:10.1016/S0926-6410(02)00305-1.

    Abstract

    In this article a new approach to the distinction between serial/contingent and parallel/independent processing in the human cognitive system is applied to semantic knowledge retrieval and phonological encoding of the word form in picture naming. In two-choice go/nogo tasks pictures of objects were manually classified on the basis of semantic and phonological information. An additional manipulation of the duration of the faster and presumably mediating process (semantic retrieval) allowed to derive differential predictions from the two alternative models. These predictions were tested with two event-related brain potentials (ERPs), the lateralized readiness potential (LRP) and the N200. The findings indicate that phonological encoding can proceed in parallel to the retrieval of semantic features. A suggestion is made how to accommodate these findings with models of speech production.
  • Abdel Rahman, R., Van Turennout, M., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2003). Phonological encoding is not contingent on semantic feature retrieval: An electrophysiological study on object naming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29(5), 850-860. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.29.5.850.

    Abstract

    In the present study, the authors examined with event-related brain potentials whether phonological encoding in picture naming is mediated by basic semantic feature retrieval or proceeds independently. In a manual 2-choice go/no-go task the choice response depended on a semantic classification (animal vs. object) and the execution decision was contingent on a classification of name phonology (vowel vs. consonant). The introduction of a semantic task mixing procedure allowed for selectively manipulating the speed of semantic feature retrieval. Serial and parallel models were tested on the basis of their differential predictions for the effect of this manipulation on the lateralized readiness potential and N200 component. The findings indicate that phonological code retrieval is not strictly contingent on prior basic semantic feature processing.
  • Acuna-Hidalgo, R., Deriziotis, P., Steehouwer, M., Gilissen, C., Graham, S. A., Van Dam, S., Hoover-Fong, J., Telegrafi, A. B., Destree, A., Smigiel, R., Lambie, L. A., Kayserili, H., Altunoglu, U., Lapi, E., Uzielli, M. L., Aracena, M., Nur, B. G., Mihci, E., Moreira, L. M. A., Ferreira, V. B. and 26 moreAcuna-Hidalgo, R., Deriziotis, P., Steehouwer, M., Gilissen, C., Graham, S. A., Van Dam, S., Hoover-Fong, J., Telegrafi, A. B., Destree, A., Smigiel, R., Lambie, L. A., Kayserili, H., Altunoglu, U., Lapi, E., Uzielli, M. L., Aracena, M., Nur, B. G., Mihci, E., Moreira, L. M. A., Ferreira, V. B., Horovitz, D. D. G., Da Rocha, K. M., Jezela-Stanek, A., Brooks, A. S., Reutter, H., Cohen, J. S., Fatemi, A., Smitka, M., Grebe, T. A., Di Donato, N., Deshpande, C., Vandersteen, A., Marques Lourenço, C., Dufke, A., Rossier, E., Andre, G., Baumer, A., Spencer, C., McGaughran, J., Franke, L., Veltman, J. A., De Vries, B. B. A., Schinzel, A., Fisher, S. E., Hoischen, A., & Van Bon, B. W. (2017). Overlapping SETBP1 gain-of-function mutations in Schinzel-Giedion syndrome and hematologic malignancies. PLoS Genetics, 13: e1006683. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006683.

    Abstract

    Schinzel-Giedion syndrome (SGS) is a rare developmental disorder characterized by multiple malformations, severe neurological alterations and increased risk of malignancy. SGS is caused by de novo germline mutations clustering to a 12bp hotspot in exon 4 of SETBP1. Mutations in this hotspot disrupt a degron, a signal for the regulation of protein degradation, and lead to the accumulation of SETBP1 protein. Overlapping SETBP1 hotspot mutations have been observed recurrently as somatic events in leukemia. We collected clinical information of 47 SGS patients (including 26 novel cases) with germline SETBP1 mutations and of four individuals with a milder phenotype caused by de novo germline mutations adjacent to the SETBP1 hotspot. Different mutations within and around the SETBP1 hotspot have varying effects on SETBP1 stability and protein levels in vitro and in in silico modeling. Substitutions in SETBP1 residue I871 result in a weak increase in protein levels and mutations affecting this residue are significantly more frequent in SGS than in leukemia. On the other hand, substitutions in residue D868 lead to the largest increase in protein levels. Individuals with germline mutations affecting D868 have enhanced cell proliferation in vitro and higher incidence of cancer compared to patients with other germline SETBP1 mutations. Our findings substantiate that, despite their overlap, somatic SETBP1 mutations driving malignancy are more disruptive to the degron than germline SETBP1 mutations causing SGS. Additionally, this suggests that the functional threshold for the development of cancer driven by the disruption of the SETBP1 degron is higher than for the alteration in prenatal development in SGS. Drawing on previous studies of somatic SETBP1 mutations in leukemia, our results reveal a genotype-phenotype correlation in germline SETBP1 mutations spanning a molecular, cellular and clinical phenotype.
  • Akker, E., & Cutler, A. (2003). Prosodic cues to semantic structure in native and nonnative listening. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6(2), 81-96. doi:10.1017/S1366728903001056.

    Abstract

    Listeners efficiently exploit sentence prosody to direct attention to words bearing sentence accent. This effect has been explained as a search for focus, furthering rapid apprehension of semantic structure. A first experiment supported this explanation: English listeners detected phoneme targets in sentences more rapidly when the target-bearing words were in accented position or in focussed position, but the two effects interacted, consistent with the claim that the effects serve a common cause. In a second experiment a similar asymmetry was observed with Dutch listeners and Dutch sentences. In a third and a fourth experiment, proficient Dutch users of English heard English sentences; here, however, the two effects did not interact. The results suggest that less efficient mapping of prosody to semantics may be one way in which nonnative listening fails to equal native listening.
  • Alario, F.-X., Schiller, N. O., Domoto-Reilly, K., & Caramazza, A. (2003). The role of phonological and orthographic information in lexical selection. Brain and Language, 84(3), 372-398. doi:10.1016/S0093-934X(02)00556-4.

    Abstract

    We report the performance of two patients with lexico-semantic deficits following left MCA CVA. Both patients produce similar numbers of semantic paraphasias in naming tasks, but presented one crucial difference: grapheme-to-phoneme and phoneme-to-grapheme conversion procedures were available only to one of them. We investigated the impact of this availability on the process of lexical selection during word production. The patient for whom conversion procedures were not operational produced semantic errors in transcoding tasks such as reading and writing to dictation; furthermore, when asked to name a given picture in multiple output modalities—e.g., to say the name of a picture and immediately after to write it down—he produced lexically inconsistent responses. By contrast, the patient for whom conversion procedures were available did not produce semantic errors in transcoding tasks and did not produce lexically inconsistent responses in multiple picture-naming tasks. These observations are interpreted in the context of the summation hypothesis (Hillis & Caramazza, 1991), according to which the activation of lexical entries for production would be made on the basis of semantic information and, when available, on the basis of form-specific information. The implementation of this hypothesis in models of lexical access is discussed in detail.
  • Alday, P. M., Schlesewsky, M., & Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. (2017). Commentary on Sanborn and Chater: Posterior Modes Are Attractor Basins. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(7), 491-492. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.04.003.
  • Alday, P. M., Schlesewsky, M., & Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. (2017). Electrophysiology Reveals the Neural Dynamics of Naturalistic Auditory Language Processing: Event-Related Potentials Reflect Continuous Model Update. eNeuro, 4(6): e0311. doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0311-16.2017.

    Abstract

    The recent trend away from ANOVA-based analyses places experimental investigations into the neurobiology of cognition in more naturalistic and ecologically valid designs within reach. Using mixed-effects models for epoch-based regression, we demonstrate the feasibility of examining event-related potentials (ERPs), and in particular the N400, to study the neural dynamics of human auditory language processing in a naturalistic setting. Despite the large variability between trials during naturalistic stimulation, we replicated previous findings from the literature: the effects of frequency, animacy, word order and find previously unexplored interaction effects. This suggests a new perspective on ERPs, namely as a continuous modulation reflecting continuous stimulation instead of a series of discrete and essentially sequential processes locked to discrete events. Significance Statement Laboratory experiments on language often lack ecologicalal validity. In addition to the intrusive laboratory equipment, the language used is often highly constrained in an attempt to control possible confounds. More recent research with naturalistic stimuli has been largely confined to fMRI, where the low temporal resolution helps to smooth over the uneven finer structure of natural language use. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of using naturalistic stimuli with temporally sensitive methods such as EEG and MEG using modern computational approaches and show how this provides new insights into the nature of ERP components and the temporal dynamics of language as a sensory and cognitive process. The full complexity of naturalistic language use cannot be captured by carefully controlled designs alone.
  • Allen, S. E. M. (1998). Categories within the verb category: Learning the causative in Inuktitut. Linguistics, 36(4), 633-677.
  • Ameka, F. K. (1990). [Review of Robert Burchfield (ed.) Studies in lexicography]. Studies in Language, 14(2), 479-489.
  • Ameka, F. K. (1998). Particules énonciatives en Ewe. Faits de langues, 6(11/12), 179-204.

    Abstract

    Particles are little words that speakers use to signal the illocutionary force of utterances and/or express their attitude towards elements of the communicative situation, e.g. the addresses. This paper presents an overview of the classification, meaning and use of utterance particles in Ewe. It argues that they constitute a grammatical word class on functional and distributional grounds. The paper calls for a cross-cultural investigation of particles, especially in Africa, where they have been neglected for far too long.
  • Aparicio, X., Heidlmayr, K., & Isel, F. (2017). Inhibition Efficiency in Highly Proficient Bilinguals and Simultaneous Interpreters: Evidence from Language Switching and Stroop Tasks. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 46, 1427-1451. doi:10.1007/s10936-017-9501-3.

    Abstract

    The present behavioral study aimed to examine the impact of language control expertise on two domain-general control processes, i.e. active inhibition of competing representations and overcoming of inhibition. We compared how Simultaneous Interpreters (SI) and Highly Proficient Bilinguals—two groups assumed to differ in language control capacity—performed executive tasks involving specific inhibition processes. In Experiment 1 (language decision task), both active and overcoming of inhibition processes are involved, while in Experiment 2 (bilingual Stroop task) only interference suppression is supposed to be required. The results of Experiment 1 showed a language switching effect only for the highly proficient bilinguals, potentially because overcoming of inhibition requires more cognitive resources than in SI. Nevertheless, both groups performed similarly on the Stroop task in Experiment 2, which suggests that active inhibition may work similarly in both groups. These contrasting results suggest that overcoming of inhibition may be harder to master than active inhibition. Taken together, these data indicate that some executive control processes may be less sensitive to the degree of expertise in bilingual language control than others. Our findings lend support to psycholinguistic models of bilingualism postulating a higher-order mechanism regulating language activation.
  • Armeni, K., Willems, R. M., & Frank, S. (2017). Probabilistic language models in cognitive neuroscience: Promises and pitfalls. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 579-588. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.001.

    Abstract

    Cognitive neuroscientists of language comprehension study how neural computations relate to cognitive computations during comprehension. On the cognitive part of the equation, it is important that the computations and processing complexity are explicitly defined. Probabilistic language models can be used to give a computationally explicit account of language complexity during comprehension. Whereas such models have so far predominantly been evaluated against behavioral data, only recently have the models been used to explain neurobiological signals. Measures obtained from these models emphasize the probabilistic, information-processing view of language understanding and provide a set of tools that can be used for testing neural hypotheses about language comprehension. Here, we provide a cursory review of the theoretical foundations and example neuroimaging studies employing probabilistic language models. We highlight the advantages and potential pitfalls of this approach and indicate avenues for future research
  • Bailey, A., Hervas, A., Matthews, N., Palferman, S., Wallace, S., Aubin, A., Michelotti, J., Wainhouse, C., Papanikolaou, K., Rutter, M., Maestrini, E., Marlow, A., Weeks, D. E., Lamb, J., Francks, C., Kearsley, G., Scudder, P., Monaco, A. P., Baird, G., Cox, A. and 46 moreBailey, A., Hervas, A., Matthews, N., Palferman, S., Wallace, S., Aubin, A., Michelotti, J., Wainhouse, C., Papanikolaou, K., Rutter, M., Maestrini, E., Marlow, A., Weeks, D. E., Lamb, J., Francks, C., Kearsley, G., Scudder, P., Monaco, A. P., Baird, G., Cox, A., Cockerill, H., Nuffield, F., Le Couteur, A., Berney, T., Cooper, H., Kelly, T., Green, J., Whittaker, J., Gilchrist, A., Bolton, P., Schönewald, A., Daker, M., Ogilvie, C., Docherty, Z., Deans, Z., Bolton, B., Packer, R., Poustka, F., Rühl, D., Schmötzer, G., Bölte, S., Klauck, S. M., Spieler, A., Poustka., A., Van Engeland, H., Kemner, C., De Jonge, M., Den Hartog, I., Lord, C., Cook, E., Leventhal, B., Volkmar, F., Pauls, D., Klin, A., Smalley, S., Fombonne, E., Rogé, B., Tauber, M., Arti-Vartayan, E., Fremolle-Kruck., J., Pederson, L., Haracopos, D., Brondum-Nielsen, K., & Cotterill, R. (1998). A full genome screen for autism with evidence for linkage to a region on chromosome 7q. International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium. Human Molecular Genetics, 7(3), 571-578. doi:10.1093/hmg/7.3.571.

    Abstract

    Autism is characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication, and restricted and sterotyped patterns of interests and activities. Developmental difficulties are apparent before 3 years of age and there is evidence for strong genetic influences most likely involving more than one susceptibility gene. A two-stage genome search for susceptibility loci in autism was performed on 87 affected sib pairs plus 12 non-sib affected relative-pairs, from a total of 99 families identified by an international consortium. Regions on six chromosomes (4, 7, 10, 16, 19 and 22) were identified which generated a multipoint maximum lod score (MLS) > 1. A region on chromosome 7q was the most significant with an MLS of 3.55 near markers D7S530 and D7S684 in the subset of 56 UK affected sib-pair families, and an MLS of 2.53 in all 87 affected sib-pair families. An area on chromosome 16p near the telomere was the next most significant, with an MLS of 1.97 in the UK families, and 1.51 in all families. These results are an important step towards identifying genes predisposing to autism; establishing their general applicability requires further study.
  • Barthel, M., Meyer, A. S., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). Next speakers plan their turn early and speak after turn-final ‘go-signals’. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 393. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00393.

    Abstract

    In conversation, turn-taking is usually fluid, with next speakers taking their turn right after the end of the previous turn. Most, but not all, previous studies show that next speakers start to plan their turn early, if possible already during the incoming turn. The present study makes use of the list-completion paradigm (Barthel et al., 2016), analyzing speech onset latencies and eye-movements of participants in a task-oriented dialogue with a confederate. The measures are used to disentangle the contributions to the timing of turn-taking of early planning of content on the one hand and initiation of articulation as a reaction to the upcoming turn-end on the other hand. Participants named objects visible on their computer screen in response to utterances that did, or did not, contain lexical and prosodic cues to the end of the incoming turn. In the presence of an early lexical cue, participants showed earlier gaze shifts toward the target objects and responded faster than in its absence, whereas the presence of a late intonational cue only led to faster response times and did not affect the timing of participants' eye movements. The results show that with a combination of eye-movement and turn-transition time measures it is possible to tease apart the effects of early planning and response initiation on turn timing. They are consistent with models of turn-taking that assume that next speakers (a) start planning their response as soon as the incoming turn's message can be understood and (b) monitor the incoming turn for cues to turn-completion so as to initiate their response when turn-transition becomes relevant
  • Bastiaansen, M. C. M., & Hagoort, P. (2003). Event-induced theta responses as a window on the dynamics of memory. Cortex, 39(4-5), 967-972. doi:10.1016/S0010-9452(08)70873-6.

    Abstract

    An important, but often ignored distinction in the analysis of EEG signals is that between evoked activity and induced activity. Whereas evoked activity reflects the summation of transient post-synaptic potentials triggered by an event, induced activity, which is mainly oscillatory in nature, is thought to reflect changes in parameters controlling dynamic interactions within and between brain structures. We hypothesize that induced activity may yield information about the dynamics of cell assembly formation, activation and subsequent uncoupling, which may play a prominent role in different types of memory operations. We then describe a number of analysis tools that can be used to study the reactivity of induced rhythmic activity, both in terms of amplitude changes and of phase variability. We briefly discuss how alpha, gamma and theta rhythms are thought to be generated, paying special attention to the hypothesis that the theta rhythm reflects dynamic interactions between the hippocampal system and the neocortex. This hypothesis would imply that studying the reactivity of scalp-recorded theta may provide a window on the contribution of the hippocampus to memory functions. We review studies investigating the reactivity of scalp-recorded theta in paradigms engaging episodic memory, spatial memory and working memory. In addition, we review studies that relate theta reactivity to processes at the interface of memory and language. Despite many unknowns, the experimental evidence largely supports the hypothesis that theta activity plays a functional role in cell assembly formation, a process which may constitute the neural basis of memory formation and retrieval. The available data provide only highly indirect support for the hypothesis that scalp-recorded theta yields information about hippocampal functioning. It is concluded that studying induced rhythmic activity holds promise as an additional important way to study brain function.
  • Bauer, B. L. M. (1998). Impersonal verbs in Italic. Their development from an Indo-European perspective. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 26, 91-120.
  • Bauer, B. L. M. (1998). Language loss in Gaul: Socio-historical and linguistic factors in language conflict. Southwest Journal of Linguistics, 15, 23-44.
  • Belke, E., Shao, Z., & Meyer, A. S. (2017). Strategic origins of early semantic facilitation in the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(10), 1659-1668. doi:10.1037/xlm0000399.

    Abstract

    In the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm, participants repeatedly name small sets of objects that do or do not belong to the same semantic category. A standard finding is that, after a first presentation cycle where one might find semantic facilitation, naming is slower in related (homogeneous) than in unrelated (heterogeneous) sets. According to competitive theories of lexical selection, this is because the lexical representations of the object names compete more vigorously in homogeneous than in heterogeneous sets. However, Navarrete, del Prato, Peressotti, and Mahon (2014) argued that this pattern of results was not due to increased lexical competition but to weaker repetition priming in homogeneous compared to heterogeneous sets. They demonstrated that when homogeneous sets were not repeated immediately but interleaved with unrelated sets, semantic relatedness induced facilitation rather than interference. We replicate this finding but also show that the facilitation effect has a strategic origin: It is substantial when sets are separated by pauses, making it easy for participants to notice the relatedness within some sets and use it to predict upcoming items. However, the effect is much reduced when these pauses are eliminated. In our view, the semantic facilitation effect does not constitute evidence against competitive theories of lexical selection. It can be accounted for within any framework that acknowledges strategic influences on the speed of object naming in the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm.
  • Bock, K., Irwin, D. E., Davidson, D. J., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2003). Minding the clock. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 653-685. doi:10.1016/S0749-596X(03)00007-X.

    Abstract

    Telling time is an exercise in coordinating language production with visual perception. By coupling different ways of saying times with different ways of seeing them, the performance of time-telling can be used to track cognitive transformations from visual to verbal information in connected speech. To accomplish this, we used eyetracking measures along with measures of speech timing during the production of time expressions. Our findings suggest that an effective interface between what has been seen and what is to be said can be constructed within 300 ms. This interface underpins a preverbal plan or message that appears to guide a comparatively slow, strongly incremental formulation of phrases. The results begin to trace the divide between seeing and saying -or thinking and speaking- that must be bridged during the creation of even the most prosaic utterances of a language.
  • De Boer, M., Kokal, I., Blokpoel, M., Liu, R., Stolk, A., Roelofs, K., Van Rooij, I., & Toni, I. (2017). Oxytocin modulates human communication by enhancing cognitive exploration. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 64-72. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.010.

    Abstract

    Oxytocin is a neuropeptide known to influence how humans share material resources. Here we explore whether oxytocin influences how we share knowledge. We focus on two distinguishing features of human communication, namely the ability to select communicative signals that disambiguate the many-to-many mappings that exist between a signal’s form and meaning, and adjustments of those signals to the presumed cognitive characteristics of the addressee (“audience design”). Fifty-five males participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled experiment involving the intranasal administration of oxytocin. The participants produced novel non-verbal communicative signals towards two different addressees, an adult or a child, in an experimentally-controlled live interactive setting. We found that oxytocin administration drives participants to generate signals of higher referential quality, i.e. signals that disambiguate more communicative problems; and to rapidly adjust those communicative signals to what the addressee understands. The combined effects of oxytocin on referential quality and audience design fit with the notion that oxytocin administration leads participants to explore more pervasively behaviors that can convey their intention, and diverse models of the addressees. These findings suggest that, besides affecting prosocial drive and salience of social cues, oxytocin influences how we share knowledge by promoting cognitive exploration
  • Bögels, S., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). The brain behind the response: Insights into turn-taking in conversation from neuroimaging. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 50, 71-89. doi:10.1080/08351813.2017.1262118.

    Abstract

    This paper reviews the prospects for the cross-fertilization of conversation-analytic (CA) and neurocognitive studies of conversation, focusing on turn-taking. Although conversation is the primary ecological niche for language use, relatively little brain research has focused on interactive language use, partly due to the challenges of using brain-imaging methods that are controlled enough to perform sound experiments, but still reflect the rich and spontaneous nature of conversation. Recently, though, brain researchers have started to investigate conversational phenomena, for example by using 'overhearer' or controlled interaction paradigms. We review neuroimaging studies related to turn-taking and sequence organization, phenomena historically described by CA. These studies for example show early action recognition and immediate planning of responses midway during an incoming turn. The review discusses studies with an eye to a fruitful interchange between CA and neuroimaging research on conversation and an indication of how these disciplines can benefit from each other.
  • Bohnemeyer, J. (2003). Invisible time lines in the fabric of events: Temporal coherence in Yukatek narratives. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 13(2), 139-162. doi:10.1525/jlin.2003.13.2.139.

    Abstract

    This article examines how narratives are structured in a language in which event order is largely not coded. Yucatec Maya lacks both tense inflections and temporal connectives corresponding to English after and before. It is shown that the coding of events in Yucatec narratives is subject to a strict iconicity constraint within paragraph boundaries. Aspectual viewpoint shifting is used to reconcile iconicity preservation with the requirements of a more flexible narrative structure.
  • Bosker, H. R. (2017). Accounting for rate-dependent category boundary shifts in speech perception. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 79, 333-343. doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1206-4.

    Abstract

    The perception of temporal contrasts in speech is known to be influenced by the speech rate in the surrounding context. This rate-dependent perception is suggested to involve general auditory processes since it is also elicited by non-speech contexts, such as pure tone sequences. Two general auditory mechanisms have been proposed to underlie rate-dependent perception: durational contrast and neural entrainment. The present study compares the predictions of these two accounts of rate-dependent speech perception by means of four experiments in which participants heard tone sequences followed by Dutch target words ambiguous between /ɑs/ “ash” and /a:s/ “bait”. Tone sequences varied in the duration of tones (short vs. long) and in the presentation rate of the tones (fast vs. slow). Results show that the duration of preceding tones did not influence target perception in any of the experiments, thus challenging durational contrast as explanatory mechanism behind rate-dependent perception. Instead, the presentation rate consistently elicited a category boundary shift, with faster presentation rates inducing more /a:s/ responses, but only if the tone sequence was isochronous. Therefore, this study proposes an alternative, neurobiologically plausible, account of rate-dependent perception involving neural entrainment of endogenous oscillations to the rate of a rhythmic stimulus.
  • Bosker, H. R., Reinisch, E., & Sjerps, M. J. (2017). Cognitive load makes speech sound fast, but does not modulate acoustic context effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 94, 166-176. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.12.002.

    Abstract

    In natural situations, speech perception often takes place during the concurrent execution of other cognitive tasks, such as listening while viewing a visual scene. The execution of a dual task typically has detrimental effects on concurrent speech perception, but how exactly cognitive load disrupts speech encoding is still unclear. The detrimental effect on speech representations may consist of either a general reduction in the robustness of processing of the speech signal (‘noisy encoding’), or, alternatively it may specifically influence the temporal sampling of the sensory input, with listeners missing temporal pulses, thus underestimating segmental durations (‘shrinking of time’). The present study investigated whether and how spectral and temporal cues in a precursor sentence that has been processed under high vs. low cognitive load influence the perception of a subsequent target word. If cognitive load effects are implemented through ‘noisy encoding’, increasing cognitive load during the precursor should attenuate the encoding of both its temporal and spectral cues, and hence reduce the contextual effect that these cues can have on subsequent target sound perception. However, if cognitive load effects are expressed as ‘shrinking of time’, context effects should not be modulated by load, but a main effect would be expected on the perceived duration of the speech signal. Results from two experiments indicate that increasing cognitive load (manipulated through a secondary visual search task) did not modulate temporal (Experiment 1) or spectral context effects (Experiment 2). However, a consistent main effect of cognitive load was found: increasing cognitive load during the precursor induced a perceptual increase in its perceived speech rate, biasing the perception of a following target word towards longer durations. This finding suggests that cognitive load effects in speech perception are implemented via ‘shrinking of time’, in line with a temporal sampling framework. In addition, we argue that our results align with a model in which early (spectral and temporal) normalization is unaffected by attention but later adjustments may be attention-dependent.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Reinisch, E. (2017). Foreign languages sound fast: evidence from implicit rate normalization. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1063. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01063.

    Abstract

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that unfamiliar languages sound faster than one’s native language. Empirical evidence for this impression has, so far, come from explicit rate judgments. The aim of the present study was to test whether such perceived rate differences between native and foreign languages have effects on implicit speech processing. Our measure of implicit rate perception was “normalization for speaking rate”: an ambiguous vowel between short /a/ and long /a:/ is interpreted as /a:/ following a fast but as /a/ following a slow carrier sentence. That is, listeners did not judge speech rate itself; instead, they categorized ambiguous vowels whose perception was implicitly affected by the rate of the context. We asked whether a bias towards long /a:/ might be observed when the context is not actually faster but simply spoken in a foreign language. A fully symmetrical experimental design was used: Dutch and German participants listened to rate matched (fast and slow) sentences in both languages spoken by the same bilingual speaker. Sentences were followed by nonwords that contained vowels from an /a-a:/ duration continuum. Results from Experiments 1 and 2 showed a consistent effect of rate normalization for both listener groups. Moreover, for German listeners, across the two experiments, foreign sentences triggered more /a:/ responses than (rate matched) native sentences, suggesting that foreign sentences were indeed perceived as faster. Moreover, this Foreign Language effect was modulated by participants’ ability to understand the foreign language: those participants that scored higher on a foreign language translation task showed less of a Foreign Language effect. However, opposite effects were found for the Dutch listeners. For them, their native rather than the foreign language induced more /a:/ responses. Nevertheless, this reversed effect could be reduced when additional spectral properties of the context were controlled for. Experiment 3, using explicit rate judgments, replicated the effect for German but not Dutch listeners. We therefore conclude that the subjective impression that foreign languages sound fast may have an effect on implicit speech processing, with implications for how language learners perceive spoken segments in a foreign language.

    Additional information

    data sheet 1.docx
  • Bosker, H. R. (2017). How our own speech rate influences our perception of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(8), 1225-1238. doi:10.1037/xlm0000381.

    Abstract

    In conversation, our own speech and that of others follow each other in rapid succession. Effects of the surrounding context on speech perception are well documented but, despite the ubiquity of the sound of our own voice, it is unknown whether our own speech also influences our perception of other talkers. This study investigated context effects induced by our own speech through six experiments, specifically targeting rate normalization (i.e., perceiving phonetic segments relative to surrounding speech rate). Experiment 1 revealed that hearing pre-recorded fast or slow context sentences altered the perception of ambiguous vowels, replicating earlier work. Experiment 2 demonstrated that talking at a fast or slow rate prior to target presentation also altered target perception, though the effect of preceding speech rate was reduced. Experiment 3 showed that silent talking (i.e., inner speech) at fast or slow rates did not modulate the perception of others, suggesting that the effect of self-produced speech rate in Experiment 2 arose through monitoring of the external speech signal. Experiment 4 demonstrated that, when participants were played back their own (fast/slow) speech, no reduction of the effect of preceding speech rate was observed, suggesting that the additional task of speech production may be responsible for the reduced effect in Experiment 2. Finally, Experiments 5 and 6 replicate Experiments 2 and 3 with new participant samples. Taken together, these results suggest that variation in speech production may induce variation in speech perception, thus carrying implications for our understanding of spoken communication in dialogue settings.
  • Bosking, W. H., Sun, P., Ozker, M., Pei, X., Foster, B. L., Beauchamp, M. S., & Yoshor, D. (2017). Saturation in phosphene size with increasing current levels delivered to human visual cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(30), 7188-7197. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2896-16.2017.

    Abstract

    Electrically stimulating early visual cortex results in a visual percept known as a phosphene. Although phosphenes can be evoked by a wide range of electrode sizes and current amplitudes, they are invariably described as small. To better understand this observation, we electrically stimulated 93 electrodes implanted in the visual cortex of 13 human subjects who reported phosphene size while stimulation current was varied. Phosphene size increased as the stimulation current was initially raised above threshold, but then rapidly reached saturation. Phosphene size also depended on the location of the stimulated site, with size increasing with distance from the foveal representation. We developed a model relating phosphene size to the amount of activated cortex and its location within the retinotopic map. First, a sigmoidal curve was used to predict the amount of activated cortex at a given current. Second, the amount of active cortex was converted to degrees of visual angle by multiplying by the inverse cortical magnification factor for that retinotopic location. This simple model accurately predicted phosphene size for a broad range of stimulation currents and cortical locations. The unexpected saturation in phosphene sizes suggests that the functional architecture of cerebral cortex may impose fundamental restrictions on the spread of artificially evoked activity and this may be an important consideration in the design of cortical prosthetic devices.
  • Bosman, A., Moisik, S. R., Dediu, D., & Waters-Rist, A. (2017). Talking heads: Morphological variation in the human mandible over the last 500 years in the Netherlands. HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 68(5), 329-342. doi:10.1016/j.jchb.2017.08.002.

    Abstract

    The primary aim of this paper is to assess patterns of morphological variation in the mandible to investigate changes during the last 500 years in the Netherlands. Three-dimensional geometric morphometrics is used on data collected from adults from three populations living in the Netherlands during three time-periods. Two of these samples come from Dutch archaeological sites (Alkmaar, 1484-1574, n = 37; and Middenbeemster, 1829-1866, n = 51) and were digitized using a 3D laser scanner. The third is a modern sample obtained from MRI scans of 34 modern Dutch individuals. Differences between mandibles are dominated by size. Significant differences in size are found among samples, with on average, males from Alkmaar having the largest mandibles and females from Middenbeemster having the smallest. The results are possibly linked to a softening of the diet, due to a combination of differences in food types and food processing that occurred between these time-periods. Differences in shape are most noticeable between males from Alkmaar and Middenbeemster. Shape differences between males and females are concentrated in the symphysis and ramus, which is mostly the consequence of sexual dimorphism. The relevance of this research is a better understanding of the anatomical variation of the mandible that can occur over an evolutionarily short time, as well as supporting research that has shown plasticity of the mandibular form related to diet and food processing. This plasticity of form must be taken into account in phylogenetic research and when the mandible is used in sex estimation of skeletons.
  • Böttner, M. (1998). A collective extension of relational grammar. Logic Journal of the IGPL, 6(2), 175-793. doi:10.1093/jigpal/6.2.175.

    Abstract

    Relational grammar was proposed in Suppes (1976) as a semantical grammar for natural language. Fragments considered so far are restricted to distributive notions. In this article, relational grammar is extended to collective notions.
  • Bouhali, F., Mongelli, V., & Cohen, L. (2017). Musical literacy shifts asymmetries in the ventral visual cortex. NeuroImage, 156, 445-455. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.04.027.

    Abstract

    The acquisition of literacy has a profound impact on the functional specialization and lateralization of the visual cortex. Due to the overall lateralization of the language network, specialization for printed words develops in the left occipitotemporal cortex, allegedly inducing a secondary shift of visual face processing to the right, in literate as compared to illiterate subjects. Applying the same logic to the acquisition of high-level musical literacy, we predicted that, in musicians as compared to non-musicians, occipitotemporal activations should show a leftward shift for music reading, and an additional rightward push for face perception. To test these predictions, professional musicians and non-musicians viewed pictures of musical notation, faces, words, tools and houses in the MRI, and laterality was assessed in the ventral stream combining ROI and voxel-based approaches. The results supported both predictions, and allowed to locate the leftward shift to the inferior temporal gyrus and the rightward shift to the fusiform cortex. Moreover, these laterality shifts generalized to categories other than music and faces. Finally, correlation measures across subjects did not support a causal link between the leftward and rightward shifts. Thus the acquisition of an additional perceptual expertise extensively modifies the laterality pattern in the visual system

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  • Bowerman, M., & Perdue, C. (1990). Introduction to the special issue. Linguistics, 28(6), 1131-1133. doi:10.1515/ling.1990.28.6.1131.

    Abstract

    This thematic issue contains 11 papers first presented at a conference on The Structure of the Simple Clause in Language Acquisition', held at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen from November 9-13, 1987. The issue concentrates on first-language acquisition. Papers on developmental dysphasia. creolization, and adult language acquisition were also presented at the conference and are being published elsewhere.
  • Bowerman, M. (1990). Mapping thematic roles onto syntactic functions: Are children helped by innate linking rules? Linguistics, 28, 1253-1290. doi:10.1515/ling.1990.28.6.1253.

    Abstract

    In recent theorizing about language acquisition, children have often been credited with innate knowledge of rules that link thematic roles such as agent and patient to syntactic functions such as subject and direct object. These rules form the basis for the hypothesis that phrase-structure rules are established through 'semantic bootstrapping', and they are also invoked to explain the acquisition of verb subcategorization frames (for example, Pinker 1984). This study examines two versions of the hypothesis that linking rules are innate, pitting them against the alternative hypothesis that linking patterns are learned (as proposed, for example, by Foley and Van Valin 1984). The first version specifies linking rules through paired thematicsyntactic role hierarchies, and the second characterizes them as a function of verb semantic structure. When predictions of the two approaches are drawn out and tested against longitudinal spontaneous speech data from two children learning English, no support is found for the hypothesis that knowledge of linking is innate; ironically, in fact, the children had more trouble with verbs that should be easy to link than with those that should be more difficult. In contrast, the hypothesis that linking rules are learned is supported: at a relatively advanced age, the children began to produce errors that are best interpreted as overregularizations of a statistically predominant linking pattern to which they had become sensitive through linguistic experience.
  • Li, P., & Bowerman, M. (1998). The acquisition of lexical and grammatical aspect in Chinese. First Language, 18, 311-350. doi:10.1177/014272379801805404.

    Abstract

    This study reports three experiments on how children learning Mandarin Chinese comprehend and use aspect markers. These experiments examine the role of lexical aspect in children's acquisition of grammatical aspect. Results provide converging evidence for children's early sensitivity to (1) the association between atelic verbs and the imperfective aspect markers zai, -zhe, and -ne, and (2) the association between telic verbs and the perfective aspect marker -le. Children did not show a sensitivity in their use or understanding of aspect markers to the difference between stative and activity verbs or between semelfactive and activity verbs. These results are consistent with Slobin's (1985) basic child grammar hypothesis that the contrast between process and result is important in children's early acquisition of temporal morphology. In contrast, they are inconsistent with Bickerton's (1981, 1984) language bioprogram hypothesis that the distinctions between state and process and between punctual and nonpunctual are preprogrammed into language learners. We suggest new ways of looking at the results in the light of recent probabilistic hypotheses that emphasize the role of input, prototypes and connectionist representations.
  • Bowerman, M., & Perdue, C. (Eds.). (1990). The structure of the simple clause in language acquisition [Special Issue]. Linguistics, 28(6).
  • Brandt, S., Nitschke, S., & Kidd, E. (2017). Priming the comprehension of German object relative clauses. Language Learning and Development, 13(3), 241-261. doi:10.1080/15475441.2016.1235500.

    Abstract

    Structural priming is a useful laboratory-based technique for investigating how children respond to temporary changes in the distribution of structures in their input. In the current study we investigated whether increasing the number of object relative clauses (RCs) in German-speaking children’s input changes their processing preferences for ambiguous RCs. Fifty-one 6-year-olds and 54 9-year-olds participated in a priming task that (i) gauged their baseline interpretations for ambiguous RC structures, (ii) primed an object-RC interpretation of ambiguous RCs, and (iii) determined whether priming persevered beyond immediate prime-target pairs. The 6-year old children showed no priming effect, whereas the 9-year-old group showed robust priming that was long lasting. Unlike in studies of priming in production, priming did not increase in magnitude when there was lexical overlap between prime and target. Overall, the results suggest that increased exposure to object RCs facilitates children’s interpretation of this otherwise infrequent structure, but only in older children. The implications for acquisition theory are discussed.
  • Brehm, L., & Goldrick, M. (2017). Distinguishing discrete and gradient category structure in language: Insights from verb-particle constructions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition., 43(10), 1537-1556. doi:10.1037/xlm0000390.

    Abstract

    The current work uses memory errors to examine the mental representation of verb-particle constructions (VPCs; e.g., make up the story, cut up the meat). Some evidence suggests that VPCs are represented by a cline in which the relationship between the VPC and its component elements ranges from highly transparent (cut up) to highly idiosyncratic (make up). Other evidence supports a multiple class representation, characterizing VPCs as belonging to discretely separated classes differing in semantic and syntactic structure. We outline a novel paradigm to investigate the representation of VPCs in which we elicit illusory conjunctions, or memory errors sensitive to syntactic structure. We then use a novel application of piecewise regression to demonstrate that the resulting error pattern follows a cline rather than discrete classes. A preregistered replication verifies these findings, and a final preregistered study verifies that these errors reflect syntactic structure. This provides evidence for gradient rather than discrete representations across levels of representation in language processing.
  • Brehm, L., & Bock, K. (2017). Referential and lexical forces in number agreement. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(2), 129-146. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1234060.

    Abstract

    In work on grammatical agreement in sentence production, there are accounts of verb number formulation that emphasise the role of whole-structure properties and accounts that emphasise the role of word-driven properties. To evaluate these alternatives, we carried out two experiments that examined a referential (wholistic) contributor to agreement along with two lexical-semantic (local) factors. Both experiments gauged the accuracy and latency of inflected-verb production in order to assess how variations in grammatical number interacted with the other factors. The accuracy of verb production was modulated both by the referential effect of notional number and by the lexical-semantic effects of relatedness and category membership. As an index of agreement difficulty, latencies were little affected by either factor. The findings suggest that agreement is sensitive to referential as well as lexical forces and highlight the importance of lexical-structural integration in the process of sentence production.
  • Brown, P. (1998). [Review of the book by A.J. Wootton, Interaction and the development of mind]. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 4(4), 816-817.
  • Brown, P. (1998). Children's first verbs in Tzeltal: Evidence for an early verb category. Linguistics, 36(4), 713-753.

    Abstract

    A major finding in studies of early vocabulary acquisition has been that children tend to learn a lot of nouns early but make do with relatively few verbs, among which semantically general-purpose verbs like do, make, get, have, give, come, go, and be play a prominent role. The preponderance of nouns is explained in terms of nouns labelling concrete objects beings “easier” to learn than verbs, which label relational categories. Nouns label “natural categories” observable in the world, verbs label more linguistically and culturally specific categories of events linking objects belonging to such natural categories (Gentner 1978, 1982; Clark 1993). This view has been challenged recently by data from children learning certain non-Indo-European languges like Korean, where children have an early verb explosion and verbs dominate in early child utterances. Children learning the Mayan language Tzeltal also acquire verbs early, prior to any noun explosion as measured by production. Verb types are roughly equivalent to noun types in children’s beginning production vocabulary and soon outnumber them. At the one-word stage children’s verbs mostly have the form of a root stripped of affixes, correctly segmented despite structural difficulties. Quite early (before the MLU 2.0 point) there is evidence of productivity of some grammatical markers (although they are not always present): the person-marking affixes cross-referencing core arguments, and the completive/incompletive aspectual distinctions. The Tzeltal facts argue against a natural-categories explanation for childre’s early vocabulary, in favor of a view emphasizing the early effects of language-specific properties of the input. They suggest that when and how a child acquires a “verb” category is centrally influenced by the structural properties of the input, and that the semantic structure of the language - where the referential load is concentrated - plays a fundamental role in addition to distributional facts.
  • Brown, P. (1998). Conversational structure and language acquisition: The role of repetition in Tzeltal adult and child speech. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 8(2), 197-221. doi:10.1525/jlin.1998.8.2.197.

    Abstract

    When Tzeltal children in the Mayan community of Tenejapa, in southern Mexico, begin speaking, their production vocabulary consists predominantly of verb roots, in contrast to the dominance of nouns in the initial vocabulary of first‐language learners of Indo‐European languages. This article proposes that a particular Tzeltal conversational feature—known in the Mayanist literature as "dialogic repetition"—provides a context that facilitates the early analysis and use of verbs. Although Tzeltal babies are not treated by adults as genuine interlocutors worthy of sustained interaction, dialogic repetition in the speech the children are exposed to may have an important role in revealing to them the structural properties of the language, as well as in socializing the collaborative style of verbal interaction adults favor in this community.
  • Brown, P. (1990). Gender, politeness and confrontation in Tenejapa. Discourse Processes, 13, 123-141.

    Abstract

    This paper compares some features of the interactional details of a Tenejapan (Mexico) court case with the features of social interaction characteristic of ordinary, casual encounters in this society. It is suggested that courtroom behaviour in Tenejapa is a very special form of interaction, in a context that uniquely allows for direct face-to-face confrontation in a society where a premium is placed on interactional restraint. Courtroom speech in Tenejapa directly contraverts norms and conventions that operate in other contexts, and women’s conventionalized polite ‘ways of putting things’ are here used sarcastically to be impolite. Thus, in this society, gender operates across contexts as a ‘master status’, but with gender meanings transformed in the different contexts: forms associated with superficial cooperation and agreement being used to emphasize lack of cooperation, disagreement, and hostility. The implications of this Tenejapan phenomenon for our understanding of the nature of relations between language and gender are explored.
  • Brown, P. (1998). La identificación de las raíces verbales en Tzeltal (Maya): Cómo lo hacen los niños? Función, 17-18, 121-146.

    Abstract

    This is a Spanish translation of Brown 1997.
  • Burenhult, N. (2003). Attention, accessibility, and the addressee: The case of the Jahai demonstrative ton. Pragmatics, 13(3), 363-379.
  • Burenhult, N., Hill, C., Huber, J., Van Putten, S., Rybka, K., & San Roque, L. (2017). Forests: The cross-linguistic perspective. Geographica Helvetica, 72(4), 455-464. doi:10.5194/gh-72-455-2017.

    Abstract

    Do all humans perceive, think, and talk about tree cover ("forests") in more or less the same way? International forestry programs frequently seem to operate on the assumption that they do. However, recent advances in the language sciences show that languages vary greatly as to how the landscape domain is lexicalized and grammaticalized. Different languages segment and label the large-scale environment and its features according to astonishingly different semantic principles, often in tandem with highly culture-specific practices and ideologies. Presumed basic concepts like mountain, valley, and river cannot in fact be straightforwardly translated across languages. In this paper we describe, compare, and evaluate some of the semantic diversity observed in relation to forests. We do so on the basis of first-hand linguistic field data from a global sample of indigenous categorization systems as they are manifested in the following languages: Avatime (Ghana), Duna (Papua New Guinea), Jahai (Malay Peninsula), Lokono (the Guianas), Makalero (East Timor), and Umpila/Kuuku Ya'u (Cape York Peninsula). We show that basic linguistic categories relating to tree cover vary considerably in their principles of semantic encoding across languages, and that forest is a challenging category from the point of view of intercultural translatability. This has consequences for current global policies and programs aimed at standardizing forest definitions and measurements. It calls for greater attention to categorial diversity in designing and implementing such agendas, and for receptiveness to and understanding of local indigenous classification systems in communicating those agendas on the ground.
  • Callaghan, E., Holland, C., & Kessler, K. (2017). Age-Related Changes in the Ability to Switch between Temporal and Spatial Attention. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9: 28. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00028.

    Abstract

    Background: Identifying age-related changes in cognition that contribute towards reduced driving performance is important for the development of interventions to improve older adults' driving and prolong the time that they can continue to drive. While driving, one is often required to switch from attending to events changing in time, to distribute attention spatially. Although there is extensive research into both spatial attention and temporal attention and how these change with age, the literature on switching between these modalities of attention is limited within any age group. Methods: Age groups (21-30, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+ years) were compared on their ability to switch between detecting a target in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream and detecting a target in a visual search display. To manipulate the cost of switching, the target in the RSVP stream was either the first item in the stream (Target 1st), towards the end of the stream (Target Mid), or absent from the stream (Distractor Only). Visual search response times and accuracy were recorded. Target 1st trials behaved as no-switch trials, as attending to the remaining stream was not necessary. Target Mid and Distractor Only trials behaved as switch trials, as attending to the stream to the end was required. Results: Visual search response times (RTs) were longer on "Target Mid" and "Distractor Only" trials in comparison to "Target 1st" trials, reflecting switch-costs. Larger switch-costs were found in both the 40-49 and 60-69 years group in comparison to the 21-30 years group when switching from the Target Mid condition. Discussion: Findings warrant further exploration as to whether there are age-related changes in the ability to switch between these modalities of attention while driving. If older adults display poor performance when switching between temporal and spatial attention while driving, then the development of an intervention to preserve and improve this ability would be beneficial. © 2017 Callaghan, Holland and Kessler.
  • Carota, F., Kriegeskorte, N., Nili, H., & Pulvermüller, F. (2017). Representational Similarity Mapping of Distributional Semantics in Left Inferior Frontal, Middle Temporal, and Motor Cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 27(1), 294-309. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw379.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension engages a distributed network of frontotemporal, parietal, and sensorimotor regions, but it is still unclear how meaning of words and their semantic relationships are represented and processed within these regions and to which degrees lexico-semantic representations differ between regions and semantic types. We used fMRI and representational similarity analysis to relate word-elicited multivoxel patterns to semantic similarity between action and object words. In left inferior frontal (BA 44-45-47), left posterior middle temporal and left precentral cortex, the similarity of brain response patterns reflected semantic similarity among action-related verbs, as well as across lexical classes-between action verbs and tool-related nouns and, to a degree, between action verbs and food nouns, but not between action verbs and animal nouns. Instead, posterior inferior temporal cortex exhibited a reverse response pattern, which reflected the semantic similarity among object-related nouns, but not action-related words. These results show that semantic similarity is encoded by a range of cortical areas, including multimodal association (e.g., anterior inferior frontal, posterior middle temporal) and modality-preferential (premotor) cortex and that the representational geometries in these regions are partly dependent on semantic type, with semantic similarity among action-related words crossing lexical-semantic category boundaries.
  • Carrion Castillo, A., Maassen, B., Franke, B., Heister, A., Naber, M., Van der Leij, A., Francks, C., & Fisher, S. E. (2017). Association analysis of dyslexia candidate genes in a Dutch longitudinal sample. European Journal of Human Genetics, 25(4), 452-460. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.194.

    Abstract

    Dyslexia is a common specific learning disability with a substantive genetic component. Several candidate genes have been proposed to be implicated in dyslexia susceptibility, such as DYX1C1, ROBO1, KIAA0319, and DCDC2. Associations with variants in these genes have also been reported with a variety of psychometric measures tapping into the underlying processes that might be impaired in dyslexic people. In this study, we first conducted a literature review to select single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in dyslexia candidate genes that had been repeatedly implicated across studies. We then assessed the SNPs for association in the richly phenotyped longitudinal data set from the Dutch Dyslexia Program. We tested for association with several quantitative traits, including word and nonword reading fluency, rapid naming, phoneme deletion, and nonword repetition. In this, we took advantage of the longitudinal nature of the sample to examine if associations were stable across four educational time-points (from 7 to 12 years). Two SNPs in the KIAA0319 gene were nominally associated with rapid naming, and these associations were stable across different ages. Genetic association analysis with complex cognitive traits can be enriched through the use of longitudinal information on trait development.
  • Casillas, M., & Frank, M. C. (2017). The development of children's ability to track and predict turn structure in conversation. Journal of Memory and Language, 92, 234-253. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.06.013.

    Abstract

    Children begin developing turn-taking skills in infancy but take several years to fluidly integrate their growing knowledge of language into their turn-taking behavior. In two eye-tracking experiments, we measured children’s anticipatory gaze to upcoming responders while controlling linguistic cues to turn structure. In Experiment 1, we showed English and non-English conversations to English-speaking adults and children. In Experiment 2, we phonetically controlled lexicosyntactic and prosodic cues in English-only speech. Children spontaneously made anticipatory gaze switches by age two and continued improving through age six. In both experiments, children and adults made more anticipatory switches after hearing questions. Consistent with prior findings on adult turn prediction, prosodic information alone did not increase children’s anticipatory gaze shifts. But, unlike prior work with adults, lexical information alone was not sucient either—children’s performance was best overall with lexicosyntax and prosody together. Our findings support an account in which turn tracking and turn prediction emerge in infancy and then gradually become integrated with children’s online linguistic processing.
  • Castro-Caldas, A., Petersson, K. M., Reis, A., Stone-Elander, S., & Ingvar, M. (1998). The illiterate brain: Learning to read and write during childhood influences the functional organization of the adult brain. Brain, 121, 1053-1063. doi:10.1093/brain/121.6.1053.

    Abstract

    Learning a specific skill during childhood may partly determine the functional organization of the adult brain. This hypothesis led us to study oral language processing in illiterate subjects who, for social reasons, had never entered school and had no knowledge of reading or writing. In a brain activation study using PET and statistical parametric mapping, we compared word and pseudoword repetition in literate and illiterate subjects. Our study confirms behavioural evidence of different phonological processing in illiterate subjects. During repetition of real words, the two groups performed similarly and activated similar areas of the brain. In contrast, illiterate subjects had more difficulty repeating pseudowords correctly and did not activate the same neural structures as literates. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that learning the written form of language (orthography) interacts with the function of oral language. Our results indicate that learning to read and write during childhood influences the functional organization of the adult human brain.
  • Chen, X. S., Reader, R. H., Hoischen, A., Veltman, J. A., Simpson, N. H., Francks, C., Newbury, D. F., & Fisher, S. E. (2017). Next-generation DNA sequencing identifies novel gene variants and pathways involved in specific language impairment. Scientific Reports, 7: 46105. doi:10.1038/srep46105.

    Abstract

    A significant proportion of children have unexplained problems acquiring proficient linguistic skills despite adequate intelligence and opportunity. Developmental language disorders are highly heritable with substantial societal impact. Molecular studies have begun to identify candidate loci, but much of the underlying genetic architecture remains undetermined. We performed whole-exome sequencing of 43 unrelated probands affected by severe specific language impairment, followed by independent validations with Sanger sequencing, and analyses of segregation patterns in parents and siblings, to shed new light on aetiology. By first focusing on a pre-defined set of known candidates from the literature, we identified potentially pathogenic variants in genes already implicated in diverse language-related syndromes, including ERC1, GRIN2A, and SRPX2. Complementary analyses suggested novel putative candidates carrying validated variants which were predicted to have functional effects, such as OXR1, SCN9A and KMT2D. We also searched for potential “multiple-hit” cases; one proband carried a rare AUTS2 variant in combination with a rare inherited haplotype affecting STARD9, while another carried a novel nonsynonymous variant in SEMA6D together with a rare stop-gain in SYNPR. On broadening scope to all rare and novel variants throughout the exomes, we identified biological themes that were enriched for such variants, including microtubule transport and cytoskeletal regulation.
  • Choi, J., Cutler, A., & Broersma, M. (2017). Early development of abstract language knowledge: Evidence from perception-production transfer of birth-language memory. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160660. doi:10.1098/rsos.160660.

    Abstract

    Children adopted early in life into another linguistic community typically forget their birth language but retain, unaware, relevant linguistic knowledge that may facilitate (re)learning of birth-language patterns. Understanding the nature of this knowledge can shed light on how language is acquired. Here, international adoptees from Korea with Dutch as their current language, and matched Dutch-native controls, provided speech production data on a Korean consonantal distinction unlike any Dutch distinctions, at the outset and end of an intensive perceptual training. The productions, elicited in a repetition task, were identified and rated by Korean listeners. Adoptees' production scores improved significantly more across the training period than control participants' scores, and, for adoptees only, relative production success correlated significantly with the rate of learning in perception (which had, as predicted, also surpassed that of the controls). Of the adoptee group, half had been adopted at 17 months or older (when talking would have begun), while half had been prelinguistic (under six months). The former group, with production experience, showed no advantage over the group without. Thus the adoptees' retained knowledge of Korean transferred from perception to production and appears to be abstract in nature rather than dependent on the amount of experience.
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Early phonology revealed by international adoptees' birth language retention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(28), 7307-7312. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706405114.

    Abstract

    Until at least 6 mo of age, infants show good discrimination for familiar phonetic contrasts (i.e., those heard in the environmental language) and contrasts that are unfamiliar. Adult-like discrimination (significantly worse for nonnative than for native contrasts) appears only later, by 9–10 mo. This has been interpreted as indicating that infants have no knowledge of phonology until vocabulary development begins, after 6 mo of age. Recently, however, word recognition has been observed before age 6 mo, apparently decoupling the vocabulary and phonology acquisition processes. Here we show that phonological acquisition is also in progress before 6 mo of age. The evidence comes from retention of birth-language knowledge in international adoptees. In the largest ever such study, we recruited 29 adult Dutch speakers who had been adopted from Korea when young and had no conscious knowledge of Korean language at all. Half were adopted at age 3–5 mo (before native-specific discrimination develops) and half at 17 mo or older (after word learning has begun). In a short intensive training program, we observe that adoptees (compared with 29 matched controls) more rapidly learn tripartite Korean consonant distinctions without counterparts in their later-acquired Dutch, suggesting that the adoptees retained phonological knowledge about the Korean distinction. The advantage is equivalent for the younger-adopted and the older-adopted groups, and both groups not only acquire the tripartite distinction for the trained consonants but also generalize it to untrained consonants. Although infants younger than 6 mo can still discriminate unfamiliar phonetic distinctions, this finding indicates that native-language phonological knowledge is nonetheless being acquired at that age.
  • Chwilla, D., Hagoort, P., & Brown, C. M. (1998). The mechanism underlying backward priming in a lexical decision task: Spreading activation versus semantic matching. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 51A(3), 531-560. doi:10.1080/713755773.

    Abstract

    Koriat (1981) demonstrated that an association from the target to a preceding prime, in the absence of an association from the prime to the target, facilitates lexical decision and referred to this effect as "backward priming". Backward priming is of relevance, because it can provide information about the mechanism underlying semantic priming effects. Following Neely (1991), we distinguish three mechanisms of priming: spreading activation, expectancy, and semantic matching/integration. The goal was to determine which of these mechanisms causes backward priming, by assessing effects of backward priming on a language-relevant ERP component, the N400, and reaction time (RT). Based on previous work, we propose that the N400 priming effect reflects expectancy and semantic matching/integration, but in contrast with RT does not reflect spreading activation. Experiment 1 shows a backward priming effect that is qualitatively similar for the N400 and RT in a lexical decision task. This effect was not modulated by an ISI manipulation. Experiment 2 clarifies that the N400 backward priming effect reflects genuine changes in N400 amplitude and cannot be ascribed to other factors. We will argue that these backward priming effects cannot be due to expectancy but are best accounted for in terms of semantic matching/integration.
  • Coco, M. I., Araujo, S., & Petersson, K. M. (2017). Disentangling stimulus plausibility and contextual congruency: Electro-physiological evidence for differential cognitive dynamics. Neuropsychologia, 96, 150-163. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.12.008.

    Abstract

    Expectancy mechanisms are routinely used by the cognitive system in stimulus processing and in anticipation of appropriate responses. Electrophysiology research has documented negative shifts of brain activity when expectancies are violated within a local stimulus context (e.g., reading an implausible word in a sentence) or more globally between consecutive stimuli (e.g., a narrative of images with an incongruent end). In this EEG study, we examine the interaction between expectancies operating at the level of stimulus plausibility and at more global level of contextual congruency to provide evidence for, or against, a disassociation of the underlying processing mechanisms. We asked participants to verify the congruency of pairs of cross-modal stimuli (a sentence and a scene), which varied in plausibility. ANOVAs on ERP amplitudes in selected windows of interest show that congruency violation has longer-lasting (from 100 to 500 ms) and more widespread effects than plausibility violation (from 200 to 400 ms). We also observed critical interactions between these factors, whereby incongruent and implausible pairs elicited stronger negative shifts than their congruent counterpart, both early on (100–200 ms) and between 400–500 ms. Our results suggest that the integration mechanisms are sensitive to both global and local effects of expectancy in a modality independent manner. Overall, we provide novel insights into the interdependence of expectancy during meaning integration of cross-modal stimuli in a verification task
  • Cortázar-Chinarro, M., Lattenkamp, E. Z., Meyer-Lucht, Y., Luquet, E., Laurila, A., & Höglund, J. (2017). Drift, selection, or migration? Processes affecting genetic differentiation and variation along a latitudinal gradient in an amphibian. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 17: 189. doi:10.1186/s12862-017-1022-z.

    Abstract

    Past events like fluctuations in population size and post-glacial colonization processes may influence the relative importance of genetic drift, migration and selection when determining the present day patterns of genetic variation. We disentangle how drift, selection and migration shape neutral and adaptive genetic variation in 12 moor frog populations along a 1700 km latitudinal gradient. We studied genetic differentiation and variation at a MHC exon II locus and a set of 18 microsatellites. Results Using outlier analyses, we identified the MHC II exon 2 (corresponding to the β-2 domain) locus and one microsatellite locus (RCO8640) to be subject to diversifying selection, while five microsatellite loci showed signals of stabilizing selection among populations. STRUCTURE and DAPC analyses on the neutral microsatellites assigned populations to a northern and a southern cluster, reflecting two different post-glacial colonization routes found in previous studies. Genetic variation overall was lower in the northern cluster. The signature of selection on MHC exon II was weaker in the northern cluster, possibly as a consequence of smaller and more fragmented populations. Conclusion Our results show that historical demographic processes combined with selection and drift have led to a complex pattern of differentiation along the gradient where some loci are more divergent among populations than predicted from drift expectations due to diversifying selection, while other loci are more uniform among populations due to stabilizing selection. Importantly, both overall and MHC genetic variation are lower at northern latitudes. Due to lower evolutionary potential, the low genetic variation in northern populations may increase the risk of extinction when confronted with emerging pathogens and climate change.
  • Costa, A., Cutler, A., & Sebastian-Galles, N. (1998). Effects of phoneme repertoire on phoneme decision. Perception and Psychophysics, 60, 1022-1031.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, listeners detected vowel or consonant targets in lists of CV syllables constructed from five vowels and five consonants. Responses were faster in a predictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables all beginning with the same consonant) than in an unpredictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables beginning with different consonants). In Experiment 1, the listeners’ native language was Dutch, in which vowel and consonant repertoires are similar in size. The difference between predictable and unpredictable contexts was comparable for vowel and consonant targets. In Experiments 2 and 3, the listeners’ native language was Spanish, which has four times as many consonants as vowels; here effects of an unpredictable consonant context on vowel detection were significantly greater than effects of an unpredictable vowel context on consonant detection. This finding suggests that listeners’ processing of phonemes takes into account the constitution of their language’s phonemic repertoire and the implications that this has for contextual variability.
  • Cozijn, R., Vonk, W., & Noordman, L. G. M. (2003). Afleidingen uit oogbewegingen: De invloed van het connectief 'omdat' op het maken van causale inferenties. Gramma/TTT, 9, 141-156.
  • Crago, M. B., Chen, C., Genesee, F., & Allen, S. E. M. (1998). Power and deference. Journal for a Just and Caring Education, 4(1), 78-95.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1990). Durational cues to word boundaries in clear speech. Speech Communication, 9, 485-495.

    Abstract

    One of a listener’s major tasks in understanding continuous speech in segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately clear speech. We found that speakers do indeed attempt to makr word boundaries; moreover, they differentiate between word boundaries in a way which suggest they are sensitive to listener needs. Application of heuristic segmentation strategies makes word boundaries before strong syllables easiest for listeners to perceive; but under difficult listening conditions speakers pay more attention to marking word boundaries before weak syllables, i.e. they mark those boundaries which are otherwise particularly hard to perceive.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Robinson, K. (1990). Elizabeth and John: Sound patterns of men’s and women’s names. Journal of Linguistics, 26, 471-482. doi:10.1017/S0022226700014754.
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Forbear is a homophone: Lexical prosody does not constrain lexical access. Language and Speech, 29, 201-220.

    Abstract

    Because stress can occur in any position within an Eglish word, lexical prosody could serve as a minimal distinguishing feature between pairs of words. However, most pairs of English words with stress pattern opposition also differ vocalically: OBject an obJECT, CONtent and content have different vowels in their first syllables an well as different stress patters. To test whether prosodic information is made use in auditory word recognition independently of segmental phonetic information, it is necessary to examine pairs like FORbear – forBEAR of TRUSty – trusTEE, semantically unrelated words which echbit stress pattern opposition but no segmental difference. In a cross-modal priming task, such words produce the priming effects characteristic of homophones, indicating that lexical prosody is not used in the same was as segmental structure to constrain lexical access.
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Phonological structure in speech recognition. Phonology Yearbook, 3, 161-178. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4615397.

    Abstract

    Two bodies of recent research from experimental psycholinguistics are summarised, each of which is centred upon a concept from phonology: LEXICAL STRESS and the SYLLABLE. The evidence indicates that neither construct plays a role in prelexical representations during speech recog- nition. Both constructs, however, are well supported by other performance evidence. Testing phonological claims against performance evidence from psycholinguistics can be difficult, since the results of studies designed to test processing models are often of limited relevance to phonological theory.
  • Cutler, A., & Swinney, D. A. (1986). Prosody and the development of comprehension. Journal of Child Language, 14, 145-167.

    Abstract

    Four studies are reported in which young children’s response time to detect word targets was measured. Children under about six years of age did not show response time advantage for accented target words which adult listeners show. When semantic focus of the target word was manipulated independently of accent, children of about five years of age showed an adult-like response time advantage for focussed targets, but children younger than five did not. Id is argued that the processing advantage for accented words reflect the semantic role of accent as an expression of sentence focus. Processing advantages for accented words depend on the prior development of representations of sentence semantic structure, including the concept of focus. The previous literature on the development of prosodic competence shows an apparent anomaly in that young children’s productive skills appear to outstrip their receptive skills; however, this anomaly disappears if very young children’s prosody is assumed to be produced without an underlying representation of the relationship between prosody and semantics.
  • Cutler, A., & Scott, D. R. (1990). Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 253-272. doi:10.1017/S0142716400008882.

    Abstract

    It is a widely held belief that women talk more than men; but experimental evidence has suggested that this belief is mistaken. The present study investigated whether listener bias contributes to this mistake. Dialogues were recorded in mixed-sex and single-sex versions, and male and female listeners judged the proportions of talk contributed to the dialogues by each participant. Female contributions to mixed-sex dialogues were rated as greater than male contributions by both male and female listeners. Female contributions were more likely to be overestimated when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably female than when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably male. It is suggested that the misestimates are due to a complex of factors that may involve both perceptual effects such as misjudgment of rates of speech and sociological effects such as attitudes to social roles and perception of power relations.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1986). The syllable’s differing role in the segmentation of French and English. Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 385-400. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(86)90033-1.

    Abstract

    Speech segmentation procedures may differ in speakers of different languages. Earlier work based on French speakers listening to French words suggested that the syllable functions as a segmentation unit in speech processing. However, while French has relatively regular and clearly bounded syllables, other languages, such as English, do not. No trace of syllabifying segmentation was found in English listeners listening to English words, French words, or nonsense words. French listeners, however, showed evidence of syllabification even when they were listening to English words. We conclude that alternative segmentation routines are available to the human language processor. In some cases speech segmentation may involve the operation of more than one procedure
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Why readers of this newsletter should run cross-linguistic experiments. European Psycholinguistics Association Newsletter, 13, 4-8.
  • Dai, B., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Kösem, A. (2017). Pure linguistic interference during comprehension of competing speech signals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141, EL249-EL254. doi:10.1121/1.4977590.

    Abstract

    Speech-in-speech perception can be challenging because the processing of competing acoustic and linguistic information leads to informational masking. Here, a method is proposed to isolate the linguistic component of informational masking while keeping the distractor's acoustic information unchanged. Participants performed a dichotic listening cocktail-party task before and after training on 4-band noise-vocoded sentences that became intelligible through the training. Distracting noise-vocoded speech interfered more with target speech comprehension after training (i.e., when intelligible) than before training (i.e., when unintelligible) at −3 dB SNR. These findings confirm that linguistic and acoustic information have distinct masking effects during speech-in‐speech comprehension
  • Dalla Bella, S., Farrugia, F., Benoit, C.-E., Begel, V., Verga, L., Harding, E., & Kotz, S. A. (2017). BAASTA: Battery for the Assessment of Auditory Sensorimotor and Timing Abilities. Behavior Research Methods, 49(3), 1128-1145. doi:10.3758/s13428-016-0773-6.

    Abstract

    The Battery for the Assessment of Auditory Sensorimotor and Timing Abilities (BAASTA) is a new tool for the systematic assessment of perceptual and sensorimotor timing skills. It spans a broad range of timing skills aimed at differentiating individual timing profiles. BAASTA consists of sensitive time perception and production tasks. Perceptual tasks include duration discrimination, anisochrony detection (with tones and music), and a version of the Beat Alignment Task. Perceptual thresholds for duration discrimination and anisochrony detection are estimated with a maximum likelihood procedure (MLP) algorithm. Production tasks use finger tapping and include unpaced and paced tapping (with tones and music), synchronization-continuation, and adaptive tapping to a sequence with a tempo change. BAASTA was tested in a proof-of-concept study with 20 non-musicians (Experiment 1). To validate the results of the MLP procedure, less widespread than standard staircase methods, three perceptual tasks of the battery (duration discrimination, anisochrony detection with tones, and with music) were further tested in a second group of non-musicians using 2 down / 1 up and 3 down / 1 up staircase paradigms (n = 24) (Experiment 2). The results show that the timing profiles provided by BAASTA allow to detect cases of timing/rhythm disorders. In addition, perceptual thresholds yielded by the MLP algorithm, although generally comparable to the results provided by standard staircase, tend to be slightly lower. In sum, BAASTA provides a comprehensive battery to test perceptual and sensorimotor timing skills, and to detect timing/rhythm deficits.
  • Damian, M. F., & Abdel Rahman, R. (2003). Semantic priming in the naming of objects and famous faces. British Journal of Psychology, 94(4), 517-527.

    Abstract

    Researchers interested in face processing have recently debated whether access to the name of a known person occurs in parallel with retrieval of semantic-biographical codes, rather than in a sequential fashion. Recently, Schweinberger, Burton, and Kelly (2001) took a failure to obtain a semantic context effect in a manual syllable judgment task on names of famous faces as support for this position. In two experiments, we compared the effects of visually presented categorically related prime words with either objects (e.g. prime: animal; target: dog) or faces of celebrities (e.g. prime: actor; target: Bruce Willis) as targets. Targets were either manually categorized with regard to the number of syllables (as in Schweinberger et al.), or they were overtly named. For neither objects nor faces was semantic priming obtained in syllable decisions; crucially, however, priming was obtained when objects and faces were overtly named. These results suggest that both face and object naming are susceptible to semantic context effects
  • Dediu, D., Janssen, R., & Moisik, S. R. (2017). Language is not isolated from its wider environment: Vocal tract influences on the evolution of speech and language. Language and Communication, 54, 9-20. doi:10.1016/j.langcom.2016.10.002.

    Abstract

    Language is not a purely cultural phenomenon somehow isolated from its wider environment, and we may only understand its origins and evolution by seriously considering its embedding in this environment as well as its multimodal nature. By environment here we understand other aspects of culture (such as communication technology, attitudes towards language contact, etc.), of the physical environment (ultraviolet light incidence, air humidity, etc.), and of the biological infrastructure for language and speech. We are specifically concerned in this paper with the latter, in the form of the biases, constraints and affordances that the anatomy and physiology of the vocal tract create on speech and language. In a nutshell, our argument is that (a) there is an under-appreciated amount of inter-individual variation in vocal tract (VT) anatomy and physiology, (b) variation that is non-randomly distributed across populations, and that (c) results in systematic differences in phonetics and phonology between languages. Relevant differences in VT anatomy include the overall shape of the hard palate, the shape of the alveolar ridge, the relationship between the lower and upper jaw, to mention just a few, and our data offer a new way to systematically explore such differences and their potential impact on speech. These differences generate very small biases that nevertheless can be amplified by the repeated use and transmission of language, affecting language diachrony and resulting in cross-linguistic synchronic differences. Moreover, the same type of biases and processes might have played an essential role in the emergence and evolution of language, and might allow us a glimpse into the speech and language of extinct humans by, for example, reconstructing the anatomy of parts of their vocal tract from the fossil record and extrapolating the biases we find in present-day humans.
  • Deriziotis, P., & Fisher, S. E. (2017). Speech and Language: Translating the Genome. Trends in Genetics, 33(9), 642-656. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2017.07.002.

    Abstract

    Investigation of the biological basis of human speech and language is being transformed by developments in molecular technologies, including high-throughput genotyping and next-generation sequencing of whole genomes. These advances are shedding new light on the genetic architecture underlying language-related disorders (speech apraxia, specific language impairment, developmental dyslexia) as well as that contributing to variation in relevant skills in the general population. We discuss how state-of-the-art methods are uncovering a range of genetic mechanisms, from rare mutations of large effect to common polymorphisms that increase risk in a subtle way, while converging on neurogenetic pathways that are shared between distinct disorders. We consider the future of the field, highlighting the unusual challenges and opportunities associated with studying genomics of language-related traits.
  • Devaraju, K., Miskinyte, G., Hansen, M. G., Monni, E., Tornero, D., Woods, N. B., Bengzon, J., Ahlenius, H., Lindvall, O., & Kokaia, Z. (2017). Direct conversion of human fibroblasts to functional excitatory cortical neurons integrating into human neural networks. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 8: 207. doi:10.1186/s13287-017-0658-3.

    Abstract

    Background: Human fibroblasts can be directly converted to several subtypes of neurons, but cortical projection neurons have not been generated. Methods: Here we screened for transcription factor combinations that could potentially convert human fibroblasts to functional excitatory cortical neurons. The induced cortical (iCtx) cells were analyzed for cortical neuronal identity using immunocytochemistry, single-cell quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), electrophysiology, and their ability to integrate into human neural networks in vitro and ex vivo using electrophysiology and rabies virus tracing. Results: We show that a combination of three ranscription fact ors, BRN2, MYT1L, and FEZF2, have the ability to directly convert human fibroblasts to functional excitatory cortical neurons. The conversion efficiency was increased to about 16% by treatment with small molecules and microRNAs. The iCtx cells exhibited electrophysiological properties of functional neurons, had pyramidal-like cell morphology, and expressed key cortical projection neuronal markers. Single-cell analysis of iCtx cells revealed a complex gene expression profile, a subpopulation of them displaying a molecular signature closely resembling that of human fetal primary cortical neurons. The iCtx cells received synaptic inputs from co-cultured human fetal primary cortical neurons, contained spines, and expressed the postsyna ptic excitatory scaffold protein PSD95. When transplanted ex vivo to organotypic cultures of adult human cerebral cortex, the iCtx cells exhibited morphological and electrophysiological properties of mature neurons, integrated structurally into the cortical tissue, and received synaptic inputs from adult human neurons. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that functional excitatory cortical neurons, generated here for the first time by direct conversion of human somatic cells, have the capacity for synaptic integration into adult human cortex.
  • Dietrich, R., & Klein, W. (1986). Simple language. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 11(2), 110-117.
  • Dimroth, C. (1998). Indiquer la portée en allemand L2: Une étude longitudinale de l'acquisition des particules de portée. AILE (Acquisition et Interaction en Langue étrangère), 11, 11-34.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Akita, K. (2017). An inverse relation between expressiveness and grammatical integration: on the morphosyntactic typology of ideophones, with special reference to Japanese. Journal of Linguistics, 53(3), 501-532. doi:10.1017/S002222671600030X.

    Abstract

    Words and phrases may differ in the extent to which they are susceptible to prosodic foregrounding and expressive morphology: their expressiveness. They may also differ in the degree to which they are integrated in the morphosyntactic structure of the utterance: their grammatical integration. We describe an inverse relation that holds across widely varied languages, such that more expressiveness goes together with less grammatical integration, and vice versa. We review typological evidence for this inverse relation in 10 languages, then quantify and explain it using Japanese corpus data. We do this by tracking ideophones —vivid sensory words also known as mimetics or expressives— across different morphosyntactic contexts and measuring their expressiveness in terms of intonation, phonation and expressive morphology. We find that as expressiveness increases, grammatical integration decreases. Using gesture as a measure independent of the speech signal, we find that the most expressive ideophones are most likely to come together with iconic gestures. We argue that the ultimate cause is the encounter of two distinct and partly incommensurable modes of representation: the gradient, iconic, depictive system represented by ideophones and iconic gestures and the discrete, arbitrary, descriptive system represented by ordinary words. The study shows how people combine modes of representation in speech and demonstrates the value of integrating description and depiction into the scientific vision of language.

    Additional information

    Open data & R code
  • Dingemanse, M. (2017). Expressiveness and system integration: On the typology of ideophones, with special reference to Siwu. STUF - Language Typology and Universals, 70(2), 363-384. doi:10.1515/stuf-2017-0018.

    Abstract

    Ideophones are often described as words that are highly expressive and morphosyntactically marginal. A study of ideophones in everyday conversations in Siwu (Kwa, eastern Ghana) reveals a landscape of variation and change that sheds light on some larger questions in the morphosyntactic typology of ideophones. The article documents a trade-off between expressiveness and morphosyntactic integration, with high expressiveness linked to low integration and vice versa. It also describes a pathway for deideophonisation and finds that frequency of use is a factor that influences the degree to which ideophones can come to be more like ordinary words. The findings have implications for processes of (de)ideophonisation, ideophone borrowing, and ideophone typology. A key point is that the internal diversity we find in naturally occurring data, far from being mere noise, is patterned variation that can help us to get a handle on the factors shaping ideophone systems within and across languages.
  • Dingemanse, M., Rossi, G., & Floyd, S. (2017). Place reference in story beginnings: a cross-linguistic study of narrative and interactional affordances. Language in Society, 46(2), 129-158. doi:10.1017/S0047404516001019.

    Abstract

    People often begin stories in conversation by referring to person, time, and place. We study story beginnings in three societies and find place reference is recurrently used to (i) set the stage, foreshadowing the type of story and the kind of response due, and to (ii) make the story cohere, anchoring elements of the developing story. Recipients orient to these interactional affordances of place reference by responding in ways that attend to the relevance of place for the story and by requesting clarification when references are incongruent or noticeably absent. The findings are based on 108 story beginnings in three unrelated languages: Cha’palaa, a Barbacoan language of Ecuador; Northern Italian, a Romance language of Italy; and Siwu, a Kwa language of Ghana. The commonalities suggest we have identified generic affordances of place reference, and that storytelling in conversation offers a robust sequential environment for systematic comparative research on conversational structures.
  • Dittmar, N., Reich, A., Skiba, R., Schumacher, M., & Terborg, H. (1990). Die Erlernung modaler Konzepte des Deutschen durch erwachsene polnische Migranten: Eine empirische Längsschnittstudie. Informationen Deutsch als Fremdsprache: Info DaF, 17(2), 125-172.
  • Drijvers, L., & Ozyurek, A. (2017). Visual context enhanced: The joint contribution of iconic gestures and visible speech to degraded speech comprehension. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 212-222. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0101.

    Abstract

    Purpose This study investigated whether and to what extent iconic co-speech gestures contribute to information from visible speech to enhance degraded speech comprehension at different levels of noise-vocoding. Previous studies of the contributions of these 2 visual articulators to speech comprehension have only been performed separately. Method Twenty participants watched videos of an actress uttering an action verb and completed a free-recall task. The videos were presented in 3 speech conditions (2-band noise-vocoding, 6-band noise-vocoding, clear), 3 multimodal conditions (speech + lips blurred, speech + visible speech, speech + visible speech + gesture), and 2 visual-only conditions (visible speech, visible speech + gesture). Results Accuracy levels were higher when both visual articulators were present compared with 1 or none. The enhancement effects of (a) visible speech, (b) gestural information on top of visible speech, and (c) both visible speech and iconic gestures were larger in 6-band than 2-band noise-vocoding or visual-only conditions. Gestural enhancement in 2-band noise-vocoding did not differ from gestural enhancement in visual-only conditions.
  • Drozdova, P., Van Hout, R., & Scharenborg, O. (2017). L2 voice recognition: The role of speaker-, listener-, and stimulus-related factors. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(5), 3058-3068. doi:10.1121/1.5010169.

    Abstract

    Previous studies examined various factors influencing voice recognition and learning with mixed results. The present study investigates the separate and combined contribution of these various speaker-, stimulus-, and listener-related factors to voice recognition. Dutch listeners, with arguably incomplete phonological and lexical knowledge in the target language, English, learned to recognize the voice of four native English speakers, speaking in English, during four-day training. Training was successful and listeners' accuracy was shown to be influenced by the acoustic characteristics of speakers and the sound composition of the words used in the training, but not by lexical frequency of the words, nor the lexical knowledge of the listeners or their phonological aptitude. Although not conclusive, listeners with a lower working memory capacity seemed to be slower in learning voices than listeners with a higher working memory capacity. The results reveal that speaker-related, listener-related, and stimulus-related factors accumulate in voice recognition, while lexical information turns out not to play a role in successful voice learning and recognition. This implies that voice recognition operates at the prelexical processing level.
  • Dunn, M. (2003). Pioneers of Island Melanesia project. Oceania Newsletter, 30/31, 1-3.
  • Eising, E., Shyti, R., 'T hoen, P. A. C., Vijfhuizen, L. S., Huisman, S. M. H., Broos, L. A. M., Mahfourz, A., Reinders, M. J. T., Ferrrari, M. D., Tolner, E. A., De Vries, B., & Van den Maagdenberg, A. M. J. M. (2017). Cortical spreading depression causes unique dysregulation of inflammatory pathways in a transgenic mouse model of migraine. Molecular Biology, 54(4), 2986-2996. doi:10.1007/s12035-015-9681-5.

    Abstract

    Familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1) is a rare monogenic subtype of migraine with aura caused by mutations in CACNA1A that encodes the α1A subunit of voltagegated CaV2.1 calcium channels. Transgenic knock-in mice that carry the human FHM1 R192Q missense mutation (‘FHM1 R192Q mice’) exhibit an increased susceptibility to cortical spreading depression (CSD), the mechanism underlying migraine aura. Here, we analysed gene expression profiles from isolated cortical tissue of FHM1 R192Q mice 24 h after experimentally induced CSD in order to identify molecular pathways affected by CSD. Gene expression profiles were generated using deep serial analysis of gene expression sequencing. Our data reveal a signature of inflammatory signalling upon CSD in the cortex of both mutant and wild-type mice. However, only in the brains of FHM1 R192Q mice specific genes are up-regulated in response to CSD that are implicated in interferon-related inflammatory signalling. Our findings show that CSD modulates inflammatory processes in both wild-type and mutant brains, but that an additional unique inflammatory signature becomes expressed after CSD in a relevant mouse model of migraine.
  • Eising, E., Pelzer, N., Vijfhuizen, L. S., De Vries, B., Ferrari, M. D., 'T Hoen, P. A. C., Terwindt, G. M., & Van den Maagdenberg, A. M. J. M. (2017). Identifying a gene expression signature of cluster headache in blood. Scientific Reports, 7: 40218. doi:10.1038/srep40218.

    Abstract

    Cluster headache is a relatively rare headache disorder, typically characterized by multiple daily, short-lasting attacks of excruciating, unilateral (peri-)orbital or temporal pain associated with autonomic symptoms and restlessness. To better understand the pathophysiology of cluster headache, we used RNA sequencing to identify differentially expressed genes and pathways in whole blood of patients with episodic (n = 19) or chronic (n = 20) cluster headache in comparison with headache-free controls (n = 20). Gene expression data were analysed by gene and by module of co-expressed genes with particular attention to previously implicated disease pathways including hypocretin dysregulation. Only moderate gene expression differences were identified and no associations were found with previously reported pathogenic mechanisms. At the level of functional gene sets, associations were observed for genes involved in several brain-related mechanisms such as GABA receptor function and voltage-gated channels. In addition, genes and modules of co-expressed genes showed a role for intracellular signalling cascades, mitochondria and inflammation. Although larger study samples may be required to identify the full range of involved pathways, these results indicate a role for mitochondria, intracellular signalling and inflammation in cluster headache

    Additional information

    Eising_etal_2017sup.pdf
  • Enfield, N. J. (2003). Demonstratives in space and interaction: Data from Lao speakers and implications for semantic analysis. Language, 79(1), 82-117.

    Abstract

    The semantics of simple (i.e. two-term) systems of demonstratives have in general hitherto been treated as inherently spatial and as marking a symmetrical opposition of distance (‘proximal’ versus ‘distal’), assuming the speaker as a point of origin. More complex systems are known to add further distinctions, such as visibility or elevation, but are assumed to build on basic distinctions of distance. Despite their inherently context-dependent nature, little previous work has based the analysis of demonstratives on evidence of their use in real interactional situations. In this article, video recordings of spontaneous interaction among speakers of Lao (Southwestern Tai, Laos) are examined in an analysis of the two Lao demonstrative determiners nii4 and nan4. A hypothesis of minimal encoded semantics is tested against rich contextual information, and the hypothesis is shown to be consistent with the data. Encoded conventional meanings must be kept distinct from contingent contextual information and context-dependent pragmatic implicatures. Based on examples of the two Lao demonstrative determiners in exophoric uses, the following claims are made. The term nii4 is a semantically general demonstrative, lacking specification of ANY spatial property (such as location or distance). The term nan4 specifies that the referent is ‘not here’ (encoding ‘location’ but NOT ‘distance’). Anchoring the semantic specification in a deictic primitive ‘here’ allows a strictly discrete intensional distinction to be mapped onto an extensional range of endless elasticity. A common ‘proximal’ spatial interpretation for the semantically more general term nii4 arises from the paradigmatic opposition of the two demonstrative determiners. This kind of analysis suggests a reappraisal of our general understanding of the semantics of demonstrative systems universally. To investigate the question in sufficient detail, however, rich contextual data (preferably collected on video) is necessary
  • Enfield, N. J. (2003). Producing and editing diagrams using co-speech gesture: Spatializing non-spatial relations in explanations of kinship in Laos. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 13(1), 7-50. doi:10.1525/jlin.2003.13.1.7.

    Abstract

    This article presents a description of two sequences of talk by urban speakers of Lao (a southwestern Tai language spoken in Laos) in which co-speech gesture plays a central role in explanations of kinship relations and terminology. The speakers spontaneously use hand gestures and gaze to spatially diagram relationships that have no inherent spatial structure. The descriptive sections of the article are prefaced by a discussion of the semiotic complexity of illustrative gestures and gesture diagrams. Gestured signals feature iconic, indexical, and symbolic components, usually in combination, as well as using motion and three-dimensional space to convey meaning. Such diagrams show temporal persistence and structural integrity despite having been projected in midair by evanescent signals (i.e., handmovements anddirected gaze). Speakers sometimes need or want to revise these spatial representations without destroying their structural integrity. The need to "edit" gesture diagrams involves such techniques as hold-and-drag, hold-and-work-with-free-hand, reassignment-of-old-chunk-tonew-chunk, and move-body-into-new-space.
  • Enfield, N. J. (2003). The definition of WHAT-d'you-call-it: Semantics and pragmatics of 'recognitional deixis'. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(1), 101-117. doi:10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00066-8.

    Abstract

    Words such as what -d'you-call-it raise issues at the heart of the semantics/pragmatics interface. Expressions of this kind are conventionalised and have meanings which, while very general, are explicitly oriented to the interactional nature of the speech context, drawing attention to a speaker's assumption that the listener can figure out what the speaker is referring to. The details of such meanings can account for functional contrast among similar expressions, in a single language as well as cross-linguistically. The English expressions what -d'you-call-it and you-know-what are compared, along with a comparable Lao expression meaning, roughly, ‘that thing’. Proposed definitions of the meanings of these expressions account for their different patterns of use. These definitions include reference to the speech act participants, a point which supports the view that what -d'you-call-it words can be considered deictic. Issues arising from the descriptive section of this paper include the question of how such terms are derived, as well as their degree of conventionality.
  • Erard, M. (2017). Write yourself invisible. New Scientist, 236(3153), 36-39.
  • Ernestus, M., Dikmans, M., & Giezenaar, G. (2017). Advanced second language learners experience difficulties processing reduced word pronunciation variants. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 6(1), 1-20. doi:10.1075/dujal.6.1.01ern.

    Abstract

    Words are often pronounced with fewer segments in casual conversations than in formal speech. Previous research has shown that foreign language learners and beginning second language learners experience problems processing reduced speech. We examined whether this also holds for advanced second language learners. We designed a dictation task in Dutch consisting of sentences spliced from casual conversations and an unreduced counterpart of this task, with the same sentences carefully articulated by the same speaker. Advanced second language learners of Dutch produced substantially more transcription errors for the reduced than for the unreduced sentences. These errors made the sentences incomprehensible or led to non-intended meanings. The learners often did not rely on the semantic and syntactic information in the sentence or on the subsegmental cues to overcome the reductions. Hence, advanced second language learners also appear to suffer from the reduced pronunciation variants of words that are abundant in everyday conversations
  • Ernestus, M., & Baayen, R. H. (2003). Predicting the unpredictable: The phonological interpretation of neutralized segments in Dutch. Language, 79(1), 5-38.

    Abstract

    Among the most fascinating data for phonology are those showing how speakers incorporate new words and foreign words into their language system, since these data provide cues to the actual principles underlying language. In this article, we address how speakers deal with neutralized obstruents in new words. We formulate four hypotheses and test them on the basis of Dutch word-final obstruents, which are neutral for [voice]. Our experiments show that speakers predict the characteristics ofneutralized segments on the basis ofphonologically similar morphemes stored in the mental lexicon. This effect of the similar morphemes can be modeled in several ways. We compare five models, among them STOCHASTIC OPTIMALITY THEORY and ANALOGICAL MODELING OF LANGUAGE; all perform approximately equally well, but they differ in their complexity, with analogical modeling oflanguage providing the most economical explanation.
  • Ernestus, M., Kouwenhoven, H., & Van Mulken, M. (2017). The direct and indirect effects of the phonotactic constraints in the listener's native language on the comprehension of reduced and unreduced word pronunciation variants in a foreign language. Journal of Phonetics, 62, 50-64. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2017.02.003.

    Abstract

    This study investigates how the comprehension of casual speech in foreign languages is affected by the phonotactic constraints in the listener’s native language. Non-native listeners of English with different native languages heard short English phrases produced by native speakers of English or Spanish and they indicated whether these phrases included can or can’t. Native Mandarin listeners especially tended to interpret can’t as can. We interpret this result as a direct effect of the ban on word-final /nt/ in Mandarin. Both the native Mandarin and the native Spanish listeners did not take full advantage of the subsegmental information in the speech signal cueing reduced can’t. This finding is probably an indirect effect of the phonotactic constraints in their native languages: these listeners have difficulties interpreting the subsegmental cues because these cues do not occur or have different functions in their native languages. Dutch resembles English in the phonotactic constraints relevant to the comprehension of can’t, and native Dutch listeners showed similar patterns in their comprehension of native and non-native English to native English listeners. This result supports our conclusion that the major patterns in the comprehension results are driven by the phonotactic constraints in the listeners’ native languages.
  • Eryilmaz, K., & Little, H. (2017). Using Leap Motion to investigate the emergence of structure in speech and language. Behavior Research Methods, 49(5), 1748-1768. doi:10.3758/s13428-016-0818-x.

    Abstract

    In evolutionary linguistics, experiments using artificial signal spaces are being used to investigate the emergence of speech structure. These signal spaces need to be continuous, non-discretised spaces from which discrete units and patterns can emerge. They need to be dissimilar from - but comparable with - the vocal-tract, in order to minimise interference from pre-existing linguistic knowledge, while informing us about language. This is a hard balance to strike. This article outlines a new approach which uses the Leap Motion, an infra-red controller which can convert manual movement in 3d space into sound. The signal space using this approach is more flexible than signal spaces in previous attempts. Further, output data using this approach is simpler to arrange and analyse. The experimental interface was built using free, and mostly open source libraries in Python. We provide our source code for other researchers as open source.
  • Esteve-Gibert, N., Prieto, P., & Liszkowski, U. (2017). Twelve-month-olds understand social intentions based on prosody and gesture shape. Infancy, 22, 108-129. doi:10.1111/infa.12146.

    Abstract

    Infants infer social and pragmatic intentions underlying attention-directing gestures, but the basis on which infants make these inferences is not well understood. Previous studies suggest that infants rely on information from preceding shared action contexts and joint perceptual scenes. Here, we tested whether 12-month-olds use information from act-accompanying cues, in particular prosody and hand shape, to guide their pragmatic understanding. In Experiment 1, caregivers directed infants’ attention to an object to request it, share interest in it, or inform them about a hidden aspect. Caregivers used distinct prosodic and gestural patterns to express each pragmatic intention. Experiment 2 was identical except that experimenters provided identical lexical information across conditions and used three sets of trained prosodic and gestural patterns. In all conditions, the joint perceptual scenes and preceding shared action contexts were identical. In both experiments, infants reacted appropriately to the adults’ intentions by attending to the object mostly in the sharing interest condition, offering the object mostly in the imperative condition, and searching for the referent mostly in the informing condition. Infants’ ability to comprehend pragmatic intentions based on prosody and gesture shape expands infants’ communicative understanding from common activities to novel situations for which shared background knowledge is missing.
  • Felser, C., Roberts, L., Marinis, T., & Gross, R. (2003). The processing of ambiguous sentences by first and second language learners of English. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24(3), 453-489.

    Abstract

    This study investigates the way adult second language (L2) learners of English resolve relative clause attachment ambiguities in sentences such as The dean liked the secretary of the professor who was reading a letter. Two groups of advanced L2 learners of English with Greek or German as their first language participated in a set of off-line and on-line tasks. The results indicate that the L2 learners do not process ambiguous sentences of this type in the same way as adult native speakers of English do. Although the learners’ disambiguation preferences were influenced by lexical–semantic properties of the preposition linking the two potential antecedent noun phrases (of vs. with), there was no evidence that they applied any phrase structure–based ambiguity resolution strategies of the kind that have been claimed to influence sentence processing in monolingual adults. The L2 learners’ performance also differs markedly from the results obtained from 6- to 7-year-old monolingual English children in a parallel auditory study, in that the children’s attachment preferences were not affected by the type of preposition at all. We argue that children, monolingual adults, and adult L2 learners differ in the extent to which they are guided by phrase structure and lexical–semantic information during sentence processing.
  • Filippi, P., Gogoleva, S. S., Volodina, E. V., Volodin, I. A., & De Boer, B. (2017). Humans identify negative (but not positive) arousal in silver fox vocalizations: Implications for the adaptive value of interspecific eavesdropping. Current Zoology, 63(4), 445-456. doi:10.1093/cz/zox035.

    Abstract

    The ability to identify emotional arousal in heterospecific vocalizations may facilitate behaviors that increase survival opportunities. Crucially, this ability may orient inter-species interactions, particularly between humans and other species. Research shows that humans identify emotional arousal in vocalizations across multiple species, such as cats, dogs, and piglets. However, no previous study has addressed humans' ability to identify emotional arousal in silver foxes. Here, we adopted low-and high-arousal calls emitted by three strains of silver fox-Tame, Aggressive, and Unselected-in response to human approach. Tame and Aggressive foxes are genetically selected for friendly and attacking behaviors toward humans, respectively. Unselected foxes show aggressive and fearful behaviors toward humans. These three strains show similar levels of emotional arousal, but different levels of emotional valence in relation to humans. This emotional information is reflected in the acoustic features of the calls. Our data suggest that humans can identify high-arousal calls of Aggressive and Unselected foxes, but not of Tame foxes. Further analyses revealed that, although within each strain different acoustic parameters affect human accuracy in identifying high-arousal calls, spectral center of gravity, harmonic-to-noise ratio, and F0 best predict humans' ability to discriminate high-arousal calls across all strains. Furthermore, we identified in spectral center of gravity and F0 the best predictors for humans' absolute ratings of arousal in each call. Implications for research on the adaptive value of inter-specific eavesdropping are discussed.

    Additional information

    zox035_Supp.zip
  • Filippi, P., Congdon, J. V., Hoang, J., Bowling, D. L., Reber, S. A., Pasukonis, A., Hoeschele, M., Ocklenburg, S., De Boer, B., Sturdy, C. B., Newen, A., & Güntürkün, O. (2017). Humans recognize emotional arousal in vocalizations across all classes of terrestrial vertebrates: Evidence for acoustic universals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284: 20170990. doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0990.

    Abstract

    Writing over a century ago, Darwin hypothesized that vocal expression of emotion dates back to our earliest terrestrial ancestors. If this hypothesis is true, we should expect to find cross-species acoustic universals in emotional vocalizations. Studies suggest that acoustic attributes of aroused vocalizations are shared across many mammalian species, and that humans can use these attributes to infer emotional content. But do these acoustic attributes extend to non-mammalian vertebrates? In this study, we asked human participants to judge the emotional content of vocalizations of nine vertebrate species representing three different biological classes—Amphibia, Reptilia (non-aves and aves) and Mammalia. We found that humans are able to identify higher levels of arousal in vocalizations across all species. This result was consistent across different language groups (English, German and Mandarin native speakers), suggesting that this ability is biologically rooted in humans. Our findings indicate that humans use multiple acoustic parameters to infer relative arousal in vocalizations for each species, but mainly rely on fundamental frequency and spectral centre of gravity to identify higher arousal vocalizations across species. These results suggest that fundamental mechanisms of vocal emotional expression are shared among vertebrates and could represent a homologous signalling system.
  • Filippi, P., Ocklenburg, S., Bowling, D. L., Heege, L., Güntürkün, O., Newen, A., & de Boer, B. (2017). More than words (and faces): evidence for a Stroop effect of prosody in emotion word processing. Cognition & Emotion, 31(5), 879-891. doi:10.1080/02699931.2016.1177489.

    Abstract

    Humans typically combine linguistic and nonlinguistic information to comprehend emotions. We adopted an emotion identification Stroop task to investigate how different channels interact in emotion communication. In experiment 1, synonyms of “happy” and “sad” were spoken with happy and sad prosody. Participants had more difficulty ignoring prosody than ignoring verbal content. In experiment 2, synonyms of “happy” and “sad” were spoken with happy and sad prosody, while happy or sad faces were displayed. Accuracy was lower when two channels expressed an emotion that was incongruent with the channel participants had to focus on, compared with the cross-channel congruence condition. When participants were required to focus on verbal content, accuracy was significantly lower also when prosody was incongruent with verbal content and face. This suggests that prosody biases emotional verbal content processing, even when conflicting with verbal content and face simultaneously. Implications for multimodal communication and language evolution studies are discussed.
  • Filippi, P., Laaha, S., & Fitch, W. T. (2017). Utterance-final position and pitch marking aid word learning in school-age children. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 161035. doi:10.1098/rsos.161035.

    Abstract

    We investigated the effects of word order and prosody on word learning in school-age children. Third graders viewed photographs belonging to one of three semantic categories while hearing four-word nonsense utterances containing a target word. In the control condition, all words had the same pitch and, across trials, the position of the target word was varied systematically within each utterance. The only cue to word–meaning mapping was the co-occurrence of target words and referents. This cue was present in all conditions. In the Utterance-final condition, the target word always occurred in utterance-final position, and at the same fundamental frequency as all the other words of the utterance. In the Pitch peak condition, the position of the target word was varied systematically within each utterance across trials, and produced with pitch contrasts typical of infant-directed speech (IDS). In the Pitch peak + Utterance-final condition, the target word always occurred in utterance-final position, and was marked with a pitch contrast typical of IDS. Word learning occurred in all conditions except the control condition. Moreover, learning performance was significantly higher than that observed with simple co-occurrence (control condition) only for the Pitch peak + Utterance-final condition. We conclude that, for school-age children, the combination of words' utterance-final alignment and pitch enhancement boosts word learning.
  • Fisher, S. E., Lai, C. S., & Monaco, a. A. P. (2003). Deciphering the genetic basis of speech and language disorders. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 26, 57-80. doi:10.1146/annurev.neuro.26.041002.131144.

    Abstract

    A significant number of individuals have unexplained difficulties with acquiring normal speech and language, despite adequate intelligence and environmental stimulation. Although developmental disorders of speech and language are heritable, the genetic basis is likely to involve several, possibly many, different risk factors. Investigations of a unique three-generation family showing monogenic inheritance of speech and language deficits led to the isolation of the first such gene on chromosome 7, which encodes a transcription factor known as FOXP2. Disruption of this gene causes a rare severe speech and language disorder but does not appear to be involved in more common forms of language impairment. Recent genome-wide scans have identified at least four chromosomal regions that may harbor genes influencing the latter, on chromosomes 2, 13, 16, and 19. The molecular genetic approach has potential for dissecting neurological pathways underlying speech and language disorders, but such investigations are only just beginning.
  • Fisher, S. E. (2017). Evolution of language: Lessons from the genome. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(1), 34-40. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1112-8.

    Abstract

    The post-genomic era is an exciting time for researchers interested in the biology of speech and language. Substantive advances in molecular methodologies have opened up entire vistas of investigation that were not previously possible, or in some cases even imagined. Speculations concerning the origins of human cognitive traits are being transformed into empirically addressable questions, generating specific hypotheses that can be explicitly tested using data collected from both the natural world and experimental settings. In this article, I discuss a number of promising lines of research in this area. For example, the field has begun to identify genes implicated in speech and language skills, including not just disorders but also the normal range of abilities. Such genes provide powerful entry points for gaining insights into neural bases and evolutionary origins, using sophisticated experimental tools from molecular neuroscience and developmental neurobiology. At the same time, sequencing of ancient hominin genomes is giving us an unprecedented view of the molecular genetic changes that have occurred during the evolution of our species. Synthesis of data from these complementary sources offers an opportunity to robustly evaluate alternative accounts of language evolution. Of course, this endeavour remains challenging on many fronts, as I also highlight in the article. Nonetheless, such an integrated approach holds great potential for untangling the complexities of the capacities that make us human.

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