Publications

Displaying 1 - 39 of 39
  • Aarts, E. (2009). Resisting temptation: The role of the anterior cingulate cortex in adjusting cognitive control. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Ameka, F. K. (1991). Ewe: Its grammatical constructions and illocutionary devices. PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Baggio, G. (2009). Semantics and the electrophysiology of meaning: Tense, aspect, event structure. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Behnke, K. (1998). The acquisition of phonetic categories in young infants: A self-organising artificial neural network approach. PhD Thesis, University of Twente, Enschede. doi:10.17617/2.2057688.
  • Benazzo, S., Flecken, M., & Soroli, E. (Eds.). (2012). Typological perspectives on language and thought: Thinking for speaking in L2. [Special Issue]. Language, Interaction and Acquisition, 3(2).
  • Cutfield, S. (2012). Demonstratives in Dalabon: A language of southwestern Arnhem Land. PhD Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

    Abstract

    This study is a comprehensive description of the nominal demonstratives in Dalabon, a severely endangered Gunwinyguan non-Pama-Nyungan language of southwestern Arnhem Land, northern Australia. Demonstratives are attested in the basic vocabulary of every language, yet remain heretofore underdescribed in Australian languages. Traditional definitions of demonstratives as primarily making spatial reference have recently evolved at a great pace, with close analyses of demonstratives-in-use revealing that their use in spatial reference, in narrative discourse, and in interaction is significantly more complex than previously assumed, and that definitions of demonstrative forms are best developed after consideration of their use across these contexts. The present study reinforces findings of complexity in demonstrative use, and the significance of a multidimensional characterization of demonstrative forms. This study is therefore a contribution to the description of Dalabon, to the analysis of demonstratives in Australian languages, and to the theory and typology of demonstratives cross-linguistically. In this study, I present a multi-dimensional analysis of Dalabon demonstratives, using a variety of theoretical frameworks and research tools including descriptive linguistics, lexical-functional grammar, discourse analysis, gesture studies and pragmatics. Using data from personal narratives, improvised interactions and elicitation sessions to investigate the demonstratives, this study takes into account their morphosyntactic distribution, uses in the speech situation, interactional factors, discourse phenomena, concurrent gesture, and uses in personal narratives. I conclude with a unified account of the intenstional and extensional semantics of each form surveyed. The Dalabon demonstrative paradigm divides into two types, those which are spatially-specific and those which are non-spatial. The spatially-specific demonstratives nunda ‘this (in the here-space)’ and djakih ‘that (in the there-space)’ are shown not to encode the location of the referent per se, rather its relative position to dynamic physical and social elements of the speech situation such as the speaker’s engagement area and here-space. Both forms are also used as spatial adverbs to mean ‘here’ and ‘there’ respectively, while only nunda is also used as a temporal adverb ‘now, today’. The spatially-specific demonstratives are limited to situational use in narratives. The non-spatial demonstratives kanh/kanunh ‘that (identifiable)’ and nunh ‘that (unfamiliar, contrastive)’ are used in both the speech situation and personal narratives to index referents as ‘identifiable’ or ‘unfamiliar’ respectively. Their use in the speech situation can conversationally implicate that the referent is distal. The non-spatial demonstratives display the greatest diversity of use in narratives, each specializing for certain uses, yet their wide distribution across discourse usage types can be described on account of their intensional semantics. The findings of greatest typological interest in this study are that speakers’ choice of demonstrative in the speech situation is influenced by multiple simultaneous deictic parameters (including gesture); that oppositions in the Dalabon demonstrative paradigm are not equal, nor exclusively semantic; that the form nunh ‘that (unfamiliar, contrastive)’ is used to index a referent as somewhat inaccessible or unexpected; that the ‘recognitional’ form kanh/kanunh is instead described as ‘identifiable’; and that speakers use demonstratives to index emotional deixis to a referent, or to their addressee.
  • Davids, N. (2009). Neurocognitive markers of phonological processing: A clinical perspective. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Dimitrova, D. V. (2012). Neural correlates of prosody and information structure. PhD Thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

    Abstract

    The present dissertation investigates what neurocognitive processes are activated in the brain when listeners comprehend spoken language and in particular the melody and rhythm of speech, also referred to as prosody. The findings of several electrophysiological studies show that prosody influences the early and late stages of spoken language processing. When words are accented, listeners consider them important, and the brain responds to accentuation already 200 milliseconds after stimulus onset. The processing of prosodic prominence occurs whether or not a context is present and whether or not accent is congruent with context, although the responses to accentuation may be modified by either of these factors and by the focus particle only. Listeners are sensitive not only to the presence of prosodic prominence but also to the type of accents speakers use: corrective prosody activates additional interpretation mechanisms related to the construction of corrective meaning. The parallel between accents across clauses impacts the disambiguation of sentences with verb ellipsis. By interpreting prosodically parallel elements as syntactically parallel, listeners arrive at less preferred interpretations of conjoined clauses. The research indentifies early correlates of incongruous prosody in strongly predictive contexts as well as late integration processes for prosody comprehension, which are related to the processing of structural complexity in isolated and ambiguous sentences. The dissertation provides evidence that the brain is sensitive to differences in prosody even in the absence of prosodic judgment. However, by changing the task, one modulates the neural mechanisms of prosody processing.
  • Doherty, M., & Klein, W. (Eds.). (1991). Übersetzung [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (84).
  • Filippi, P. (2012). Sintassi, Prosodia e Socialità: le Origini del Linguaggio Verbale. PhD Thesis, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo.

    Abstract

    What is the key cognitive ability that makes humans unique among all the other animals? Our work aims at contributing to this research question adopting a comparative and philosophical approach to the origins of verbal language. In particular, we adopt three strands of analysis that are relevant in the context of comparative investigation on the the origins of verbal language: a) research on the evolutionary ‘homologies’, which provides information on the phylogenetic traits that humans and other primates share with their common ancestor; b) investigations on “analogous” traits, aimed at finding the evolutionary pressures that guided the emergence of the same biological traits that evolved independently in phylogenetically distant species; the ontogenetic development of the ability to produce and understand verbal language in human infants. Within this comparative approach, we focus on three key apsects that we addressed bridging recent empiric evidence on language processing with philosophical investigations on verbal language: (i) pattern processing as a biologocal precursor of syntax and algebraic rule acquisition, (ii) sound modulation as a guide to pattern comprehension in speech, animal vocalization and music, (iii) social strategies for mutual understanding, survival and group cohesion. We conclude emphasizing the interplay between these three sets of cognitive processes as a fundamental dimension grounding the emergence of the human ability for propositional language.
  • Fitch, W. T., Friederici, A. D., & Hagoort, P. (Eds.). (2012). Pattern perception and computational complexity [Special Issue]. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 367 (1598).
  • Fitz, H. (2009). Neural syntax. PhD Thesis, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation.

    Abstract

    Children learn their mother tongue spontaneously and effortlessly through communicative interaction with their environment; they do not have to be taught explicitly or learn how to learn first. The ambient language to which children are exposed, however, is highly variable and arguably deficient with regard to the learning target. Nonetheless, most normally developing children learn their native language rapidly and with ease. To explain this accomplishment, many theories of acquisition posit innate constraints on learning, or even a biological endowment for language which is specific to language. Usage-based theories, on the other hand, place more emphasis on the role of experience and domain-general learning mechanisms than on innate language-specific knowledge. But languages are lexically open and combinatorial in structure, so no amount of experience covers their expressivity. Usage-based theories therefore have to explain how children can generalize the properties of their linguistic input to an adult-like grammar. In this thesis I provide an explicit computational mechanism with which usage-based theories of language can be tested and evaluated. The focus of my work lies on complex syntax and the human ability to form sentences which express more than one proposition by means of relativization. This `capacity for recursion' is a hallmark of an adult grammar and, as some have argued, the human language faculty itself. The manuscript is organized as follows. In the second chapter, I give an overview of results that characterize the properties of neural networks as mathematical objects and review previous attempts at modelling the acquisition of complex syntax with such networks. The chapter introduces the conceptual landscape in which the current work is located. In the third chapter, I argue that the construction and use of meaning is essential in child language acquisition and adult processing. Neural network models need to incorporate this dimension of human linguistic behavior. I introduce the Dual-path model of sentence production and syntactic development which is able to represent semantics and learns from exposure to sentences paired with their meaning (cf. Chang et al. 2006). I explain the architecture of this model, motivate critical assumptions behind its design, and discuss existing research using this model. The fourth chapter describes and compares several extensions of the basic architecture to accommodate the processing of multi-clause utterances. These extensions are evaluated against computational desiderata, such as good learning and generalization performance and the parsimony of input representations. A single-best solution for encoding the meaning of complex sentences with restrictive relative clauses is identified, which forms the basis for all subsequent simulations. Chapter five analyzes the learning dynamics in more detail. I first examine the model's behavior for different relative clause types. Syntactic alternations prove to be particularly difficult to learn because they complicate the meaning-to-form mapping the model has to acquire. In the second part, I probe the internal representations the model has developed during learning. It is argued that the model acquires the argument structure of the construction types in its input language and represents the hierarchical organization of distinct multi-clause utterances. The juice of this thesis is contained in chapters six to eight. In chapter six, I test the Dual-path model's generalization capacities in a variety of tasks. I show that its syntactic representations are sufficiently transparent to allow structural generalization to novel complex utterances. Semantic similarities between novel and familiar sentence types play a critical role in this task. The Dual-path model also has a capacity for generalizing familiar words to novel slots in novel constructions (strong semantic systematicity). Moreover, I identify learning conditions under which the model displays recursive productivity. It is argued that the model's behavior is consistent with human behavior in that production accuracy degrades with depth of embedding, and right-branching is learned faster than center-embedding recursion. In chapter seven, I address the issue of learning complex polar interrogatives in the absence of positive exemplars in the input. I show that the Dual-path model can acquire the syntax of these questions from simpler and similar structures which are warranted in a child's linguistic environment. The model's errors closely match children's errors, and it is suggested that children might not require an innate learning bias to acquire auxiliary fronting. Since the model does not implement a traditional kind of language-specific universal grammar, these results are relevant to the poverty of the stimulus debate. English relative clause constructions give rise to similar performance orderings in adult processing and child language acquisition. This pattern matches the typological universal called the noun phrase accessibility hierarchy. I propose an input-based explanation of this data in chapter eight. The Dual-path model displays this ordering in syntactic development when exposed to plausible input distributions. But it is possible to manipulate and completely remove the ordering by varying properties of the input from which the model learns. This indicates, I argue, that patterns of interference and facilitation among input structures can explain the hierarchy when all structures are simultaneously learned and represented over a single set of connection weights. Finally, I draw conclusions from this work, address some unanswered questions, and give a brief outlook on how this research might be continued.

    Additional information

    http://dare.uva.nl/record/328271
  • Furman, R. (2012). Caused motion events in Turkish: Verbal and gestural representation in adults and children. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen/LOT.

    Abstract

    Caused motion events (e.g. a boy pulls a box into a room) are basic events where an Agent (the boy) performs an Action (pulling) that causes a Figure (box) to move in a spatial Path (into) to a Goal (the room). These semantic elements are mapped onto lexical and syntactic structures differently across languages This dissertation investigates the encoding of caused motion events in Turkish, and the development of this encoding in speech and gesture. First, a linguistic analysis shows that Turkish does not fully fit into the expected typological patterns, and that the encoding of caused motion is determined by the fine-grained lexical semantics of a verb as well as the syntactic construction the verb is integrated into. A grammaticality judgment study conducted with adult Turkish speakers further establishes the fundamentals of the encoding patterns. An event description study compares adults’ verbal and gestural representations of caused motion to those of children aged 3 to 5. The findings indicate that although language-specificity is evident in children’s speech and gestures, the development of adult patterns takes time and occurs after the age of 5. A final study investigates a longitudinal video corpus of the spontaneous speech of Turkish-speaking children aged 1 to 3, and finds that language-specificity is evident from the start in both children’s speech and gesture. Apart from contributing to the literature on the development of Turkish, this dissertation furthers our understanding of the interaction between language-specificity and the multimodal expression of semantic information in event descriptions.
  • Grabe, E. (1998). Comparative intonational phonology: English and German. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057683.
  • Habscheid, S., & Klein, W. (Eds.). (2012). Dinge und Maschinen in der Kommunikation [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 42(168).

    Abstract

    “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” (Weiser 1991, S. 94). – Die Behauptung stammt aus einem vielzitierten Text von Mark Weiser, ehemals Chief Technology Officer am berühmten Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), wo nicht nur einige bedeutende computertechnische Innovationen ihren Ursprung hatten, sondern auch grundlegende anthropologische Einsichten zum Umgang mit technischen Artefakten gewonnen wurden.1 In einem populärwissenschaftlichen Artikel mit dem Titel „The Computer for the 21st Century” entwarf Weiser 1991 die Vision einer Zukunft, in der wir nicht mehr mit einem einzelnen PC an unserem Arbeitsplatz umgehen – vielmehr seien wir in jedem Raum umgeben von hunderten elektronischer Vorrichtungen, die untrennbar in Alltagsgegenstände eingebettet und daher in unserer materiellen Umwelt gleichsam „verschwunden“ sind. Dabei ging es Weiser nicht allein um das ubiquitäre Phänomen, das in der Medientheorie als „Transparenz der Medien“ bekannt ist2 oder in allgemeineren Theorien der Alltagserfahrung als eine selbstverständliche Verwobenheit des Menschen mit den Dingen, die uns in ihrem Sinn vertraut und praktisch „zuhanden“ sind.3 Darüber hinaus zielte Weisers Vision darauf, unsere bereits existierende Umwelt durch computerlesbare Daten zu erweitern und in die Operationen eines solchen allgegenwärtigen Netzwerks alltägliche Praktiken gleichsam lückenlos zu integrieren: In der Welt, die Weiser entwirft, öffnen sich Türen für denjenigen, der ein bestimmtes elektronisches Abzeichen trägt, begrüßen Räume Personen, die sie betreten, mit Namen, passen sich Computerterminals an die Präferenzen individueller Nutzer an usw. (Weiser 1991, S. 99).
  • Hammarström, H., & van den Heuvel, W. (Eds.). (2012). On the history, contact & classification of Papuan languages [Special Issue]. Language & Linguistics in Melanesia, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.langlxmelanesia.com/specialissues.htm.
  • Hammond, J. (2009). The grammar of nouns and verbs in Whitesands, an oceanic language of Southern Vanuatu. Master Thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney.

    Abstract

    Whitesands is an under-described language of southern Vanuatu, and this thesis presents Whitesands-specific data based on primary in-situ field research. The thesis addresses the distinction of noun and verb word classes in the language. It claims that current linguistic syntax theory cannot account for the argument structure of canonical object-denoting roots. It is shown that there are distinct lexical noun and verb classes in Whitesands but this is only a weak dichotomy. Stronger is the NP and VP distinction, and this is achieved by employing a new theoretical approach that proposes functional categories and their selection of complements as crucial tests of distinction. This approach contrasts with previous analyses of parts of speech in Oceanic languages and cross-linguistically. It ultimately explains many of the syntactic phenomena seen in the language family, including the above argument assignment dilemma, the alienable possession of nouns with classifiers and also the nominalisation processes.
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1998). Kaleidoskop [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (112).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1987). Sprache und Ritual [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (65).
  • Klein, W., & Dimroth, C. (Eds.). (2009). Worauf kann sich der Sprachunterricht stützen? [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 153.
  • Knudsen, B. (2012). Infants’ appreciation of others’ mental states in prelinguistic communication. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Kuzla, C. (2009). Prosodic structure in speech production and perception. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Majid, A., Boroditsky, L., & Gaby, A. (Eds.). (2012). Time in terms of space [Research topic] [Special Issue]. Frontiers in cultural psychology. Retrieved from http://www.frontiersin.org/cultural_psychology/researchtopics/Time_in_terms_of_space/755.

    Abstract

    This Research Topic explores the question: what is the relationship between representations of time and space in cultures around the world? This question touches on the broader issue of how humans come to represent and reason about abstract entities – things we cannot see or touch. Time is a particularly opportune domain to investigate this topic. Across cultures, people use spatial representations for time, for example in graphs, time-lines, clocks, sundials, hourglasses, and calendars. In language, time is also heavily related to space, with spatial terms often used to describe the order and duration of events. In English, for example, we might move a meeting forward, push a deadline back, attend a long concert or go on a short break. People also make consistent spatial gestures when talking about time, and appear to spontaneously invoke spatial representations when processing temporal language. A large body of evidence suggests a close correspondence between temporal and spatial language and thought. However, the ways that people spatialize time can differ dramatically across languages and cultures. This research topic identifies and explores some of the sources of this variation, including patterns in spatial thinking, patterns in metaphor, gesture and other cultural systems. This Research Topic explores how speakers of different languages talk about time and space and how they think about these domains, outside of language. The Research Topic invites papers exploring the following issues: 1. Do the linguistic representations of space and time share the same lexical and morphosyntactic resources? 2. To what extent does the conceptualization of time follow the conceptualization of space?
  • Mitterer, H. (Ed.). (2012). Ecological aspects of speech perception [Research topic] [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Cognition.

    Abstract

    Our knowledge of speech perception is largely based on experiments conducted with carefully recorded clear speech presented under good listening conditions to undistracted listeners - a near-ideal situation, in other words. But the reality poses a set of different challenges. First of all, listeners may need to divide their attention between speech comprehension and another task (e.g., driving). Outside the laboratory, the speech signal is often slurred by less than careful pronunciation and the listener has to deal with background noise. Moreover, in a globalized world, listeners need to understand speech in more than their native language. Relatedly, the speakers we listen to often have a different language background so we have to deal with a foreign or regional accent we are not familiar with. Finally, outside the laboratory, speech perception is not an end in itself, but rather a mean to contribute to a conversation. Listeners do not only need to understand the speech they are hearing, they also need to use this information to plan and time their own responses. For this special topic, we invite papers that address any of these ecological aspects of speech perception.
  • Nijland, L., & Janse, E. (Eds.). (2009). Auditory processing in speakers with acquired or developmental language disorders [Special Issue]. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 23(3).
  • Norcliffe, E. (2009). Head-marking in usage and grammar: A study of variation and change in Yucatec Maya. PhD Thesis, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

    Abstract

    Many Mayan languages make use of a special dependent verb form (the Agent Focus, or AF verb form), which alternates with the normal transitive verb form (the synthetic verb form) of main clauses when the subject of a transitive verb is focused, questioned or relativized. It has been a centerpiece of research in Mayan morphosyntax over the last forty years, due to its puzzling formal and distributional properties. In this dissertation I show how a usage-oriented approach to the phenomenon can provide important insights into this area of grammar which resists any categorical explanation. I propose that the historical origins of these special verb forms can be traced to the emergence of head marking. Drawing on cross-linguistic and historical data, I argue that the special verbs that occur in A-bar dependencies in Yucatec and a range of head-marking languages are byproducts of the frequency-sensitive gramaticalization process by which independent pronouns become pronominal inflection on verbs. I show that the relatively low frequency of adjacent pronoun-verb combinations in extraction contexts (where gaps are more frequent than resumptive pronouns) can give rise to asymmetric patterns of pronoun grammaticalization, and thus lead to the emergence of these morphological alternations. The asymmetric frequency distributions of gaps and RPs (within and across languages) in turn can be explained by processing preferences. I present three experiments which show that Yucatec speakers are more likely to use the resumptive verb form in embedded environments, and where the antecedent is indefinite. Specifically, these studies indicate the need to bring discourse-level processing principles into the account of what have often been taken to be autonomously sentence-internal phenomena: factors such as distance and the referential salience of the antecedent have been shown to influence referential form choice in discourse, suggesting that the same cognitive principles lie behind both types of variation. More generally, the Yucatec studies demonstrate that production preferences in Yucatec relative clauses reflect patterns of RP/gap distributions that have been attested across grammars. The Highest Subject Restriction (the ban on subject RPs in local dependencies), which is apparently a categorical constraint in many languages, is reflected probabilistically in Yucatec in terms of production preferences. The definiteness restriction (RPs are obligatory with indefinite antecedents), which has been reported categorically in other languages, is also visible probabilistically in Yucatec production. This lends some statistically robust support to the view that typological patterns can arise via the conventionalization of processing preferences.
  • Roberts, L., & Meyer, A. S. (Eds.). (2012). Individual differences in second language acquisition [Special Issue]. Language Learning, 62(Supplement S2).
  • Rossano, F. (2012). Gaze behavior in face-to-face interaction. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Wat doen onze ogen als we met andere mensen praten? In zijn proefschrift beschrijft Federico Rossano hoe mensen hun ogen gebruiken tijdens face-to-face interacties. Onze oogbewegingen blijken opvallend geordend en voorspelbaar: zo is het bijvoorbeeld mogelijk om met uitsluitend de ogen een reactie uit te lokken als de gesprekspartner niet direct reageert. Ook wanneer bijvoorbeeld een vraag-antwoordreeks ten einde loopt, coördineren gespreksdeelnemers hun oogbewegingen op een specifieke manier. Daarnaast heeft luisteren naar een verhaal of luisteren naar een vraag verschillende implicaties voor oogbewegingen. Dit proefschrift bevat daarom belangrijke informatie voor experts op het gebied van kunstmatige intelligentie en computerwetenschappers: de voorspelbaarheid en reproduceerbaarheid van natuurlijke oogbewegingen kan onder andere gebruikt worden bij de ontwikkeling van robots of avatars.
  • De Ruiter, J. P. (1998). Gesture and speech production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057686.
  • Schimke, S. (2009). The acquisition of finiteness by Turkish learners of German and Turkish learners of French: Investigating knowledge of forms and functions in production and comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Sarah Schimke onderzocht hoe mensen die op volwassen leeftijd naar een ander land verhuizen de taal van dit land leren, ook zonder veel taalinstructie te krijgen. Twee groepen werden onderzocht: Turkse immigranten in Frankrijk en Turkse immigranten in Duitsland. De resultaten laten zien dat volwassen leerlingen in het begin van het verwervingsproces een gemakkelijkere variatie van de doeltaal creëren. Er worden wel woorden van de doeltaal verworven en gebruikt, maar er wordt een gesimplificeerde grammatica toegepast. In het bijzonder gebruiken leerlingen in deze fase geen finietheid, dus geen morfologische variaties van werkwoorden. Schimke toont aan dat als finietheid wordt verworven, dit de grammatica van de leerlingen sterk verandert en dat deze veel sterker op de doeltaalgrammatica begint te lijken. Ook toont ze aan dat dit proces door karakteristieken van de doeltaal, zoals de woordvolgorde en de complexiteit van de morfologie, wordt beïnvloed
  • Segaert, K. (2012). Structuring language: Contributions to the neurocognition of syntax. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Sprekers hebben een sterke neiging om syntactische structuren te hergebruiken in nieuwe zinnen. Wanneer we een situatie beschrijven met een passieve zin bijvoorbeeld: 'De vrouw wordt begroet door de man', zullen we voor de beschrijving van een nieuwe situatie gemakkelijker opnieuw een passieve zin gebruiken. Vooral bij moeilijke syntactische structuren is de neiging om ze te hergebruiken erg sterk. Voor gemakkelijke zinsconstructies geldt dat minder. Maar als deze toch hergebruikt worden dan gaat dit samen met een sneller initiëren van de beschrijving. Ook in het brein zien we dat het herhalen van syntactische structuren de verwerking ervan vergemakkelijkt. Bepaalde hersengebieden die zorgen voor de verwerking van syntactische structuren zijn zeer actief de eerste keer dat een syntactische structuur wordt verwerkt, en minder actief de tweede keer. Het gaat hier om een gebiedje in de frontaalkwab en een gebiedje in de temporaalkwab. Opvallend is ook dat deze gebieden de verwerking van syntactische structuren ondersteunen zowel tijdens het spreken als tijdens het luisteren.
  • Svantesson, J.-O., Burenhult, N., Holmer, A., Karlsson, A., & Lundström, H. (Eds.). (2012). Humanities of the lesser-known: New directions in the description, documentation and typology of endangered languages and musics [Special Issue]. Language Documentation and Description, 10.
  • Udden, J. (2012). Language as structured sequences: a causal role of Broca's region in sequence processing. PhD Thesis, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

    Abstract

    In this thesis I approach language as a neurobiological system. I defend a sequence processing perspective on language and on the function of Broca's region in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG). This perspective provides a way to express common structural aspects of language, music and action, which all engage the LIFG. It also facilitates the comparison of human language and structured sequence processing in animals. Research on infants, song-birds and non-human primates suggests an interesting role for non-adjacent dependencies in language acquisition and the evolution of language. In a series of experimental studies using a sequence processing paradigm called artificial grammar learning (AGL), we have investigated sequences with adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies. Our behavioral and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies show that healthy subjects successfully discriminate between grammatical and non-grammatical sequences after having acquired aspects of a grammar with nested or crossed non-adjacent dependencies implicitly. There were no indications of separate acquisition/processing mechanisms for sequence processing of adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies, although acquisition of non-adjacent dependencies takes more time. In addition, we studied the causal role of Broca‟s region in processing artificial syntax. Although syntactic processing has already been robustly correlated with activity in Broca's region, the causal role of Broca's region in syntactic processing, in particular syntactic comprehension has been unclear. Previous lesion studies have shown that a lesion in Broca's region is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to induce e.g. syntactic deficits. Subsequent to transcranial magnetic stimulation of Broca‟s region, discrimination of grammatical sequences with non-adjacent dependencies from non-grammatical sequences was impaired, compared to when a language irrelevant control region (vertex) was stimulated. Two additional experiments show perturbation of discrimination performance for grammars with adjacent dependencies after stimulation of Broca's region. Together, these results support the view that Broca‟s region plays a causal role in implicit structured sequence processing.
  • Van Putten, S. (2009). Talking about motion in Avatime. Master Thesis, Leiden University.
  • Verhagen, J. (2009). Finiteness in Dutch as a second language. PhD Thesis, VU University, Amsterdam.
  • De Vos, C. (2012). Sign-spatiality in Kata Kolok: How a village sign language in Bali inscribes its signing space. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    In a small village in the north of Bali called Bengkala, relatively many people inherit deafness. The Balinese therefore refer to this village as Desa Kolok, which means 'deaf village'. Connie de Vos studied Kata Kolok, the sign language of this village, and the ways in which the language recruits space to talk about both spatial and non-spatial matters. he small village community Bengkala in the north of Bali has almost 3,000 inhabitants. Of all the inhabitants, 57% use sign language, with varying degrees of fluency. But of this signing community (between 1,200 and 1,800 signers, depending on your definition of 'signer'), only 4% are deaf. So, not only do the deaf people of Bengkala use the sign language Kata Kolok, but also the majority of the hearing population. "I've worked with deaf people from all over Asia, Europe, and also some signers in America," says Connie de Vos of MPI's Language and Cognition Department, and Centre for Language Studies (RU). "What sets apart this particular deaf village is that deaf individuals are highly integrated within the village clans. There is really a huge proportion of hearing signers." The sign language currently functions in all major aspects of village life and has been acquired from birth by multiple generations of deaf, native signers. According to De Vos, Kata Kolok is a fully-fledged sign language in every sense of the word. As a collaborative project, she has initiated inclusive deaf education within the village and now Kata Kolok is used as the primary language of instruction. De Vos' primary finding is that Kata Kolok discourse uses a different system of referring to space than other sign languages. Spatial relations are represented by a so-called "absolute frame of reference", based on geographic locations and wind directions. "All sign languages, as we know, use relative constructions for spatial relations. They use signs comparable to words like 'left' and 'right' instead of 'east' and 'west'. Kata Kolok does the latter. Kata Kolok signers appear to have an internal compass to continually register their position in space."De Vos is the first sign linguist who has documented Kata Kolok extensively. She spent more than a year in the village and collected over a hundred hours of video material of spontaneous conversations. "One of the things I've noticed is that language doesn't really emerge out of nothing," she says. "Signers adopt a local gesture system and transform it into a new and much more systematic sign language. A lot of the signs refer to concepts they're familiar with. That's why hearing signers have no difficulties in picking up Kata Kolok. Kata Kolok unites the hearing and the deaf.
  • Weber, K. (2012). The language learning brain: Evidence from second language learning and bilingual studies of syntactic processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Many people speak a second language next to their mother tongue. How do they learn this language and how does the brain process it compared to the native language? A second language can be learned without explicit instruction. Our brains automatically pick up grammatical structures, such as word order, when these structures are repeated frequently during learning. The learning takes place within hours or days and the same brain areas, such as frontal and temporal brain regions, that process our native language are very quickly activated. When people master a second language very well, even the same neuronal populations in these language brain areas are involved. This is especially the case when the grammatical structures are similar. In conclusion, it appears that a second language builds on the existing cognitive and neural mechanisms of the native language as much as possible.
  • Willems, R. M. (2009). Neural reflections of meaning in gesture, language, and action. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Xiang, H. (2012). The language networks of the brain. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    In recent decades, neuroimaging studies on the neural infrastructure of language are usually (or mostly) conducted with certain on-line language processing tasks. These functional neuroimaging studies helped to localize the language areas in the brain and to investigate the brain activity during explicit language processing. However, little is known about what is going on with the language areas when the brain is ‘at rest’, i.e., when there is no explicit language processing running. Taking advantage of the fcMRI and DTI techniques, this thesis is able to investigate the language function ‘off-line’ at the neuronal network level and the connectivity among language areas in the brain. Based on patient studies, the traditional, classical model on the perisylvian language network specifies a “Broca’ area – Arcuate Fasciculus – Werinicke’s area” loop (Ojemann 1991). With the help of modern neuroimaging techniques, researchers have been able to track language pathways that involve more brain structures than are in the classical model, and relate them to certain language functions. In such a background, a large part of this thesis made a contribution to the study of the topology of the language networks. It revealed that the language networks form a topographical functional connectivity pattern in the left hemisphere for the right-handers. This thesis also revealed the importance of structural hubs, such as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, which have more connectivity to other brain areas and play a central role in the language networks. Furthermore, this thesis revealed both functionally and structurally lateralized language networks in the brain. The consistency between what is found in this thesis and what has been known from previous functional studies seems to suggest, that the human brain is optimized and ‘ready’ for the language function even when there is currently no explicit language-processing running.

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