Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 440
  • Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Twisting tongues and memories: Explorations of the relationship between language production and verbal working memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 60(3), 329-350. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2008.12.002.

    Abstract

    Many accounts of working memory posit specialized storage mechanisms for the maintenance of serial order. We explore an alternative, that maintenance is achieved through temporary activation in the language production architecture. Four experiments examined the extent to which the phonological similarity effect can be explained as a sublexical speech error. Phonologically similar nonword stimuli were ordered to create tongue twister or control materials used in four tasks: reading aloud, immediate spoken recall, immediate typed recall, and serial recognition. Dependent measures from working memory (recall accuracy) and language production (speech errors) fields were used. Even though lists were identical except for item order, robust effects of tongue twisters were observed. Speech error analyses showed that errors were better described as phoneme rather than item ordering errors. The distribution of speech errors was comparable across all experiments and exhibited syllable-position effects, suggesting an important role for production processes. Implications for working memory and language production are discussed.
  • Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. (2009). Verbal working memory and language production: Common approaches to the serial ordering of verbal information. Psychological Bulletin, 135(1), 50-68. doi:10.1037/a0014411.

    Abstract

    Verbal working memory (WM) tasks typically involve the language production architecture for recall; however, language production processes have had a minimal role in theorizing about WM. A framework for understanding verbal WM results is presented here. In this framework, domain-specific mechanisms for serial ordering in verbal WM are provided by the language production architecture, in which positional, lexical, and phonological similarity constraints are highly similar to those identified in the WM literature. These behavioral similarities are paralleled in computational modeling of serial ordering in both fields. The role of long-term learning in serial ordering performance is emphasized, in contrast to some models of verbal WM. Classic WM findings are discussed in terms of the language production architecture. The integration of principles from both fields illuminates the maintenance and ordering mechanisms for verbal information.
  • Adank, P., & Janse, E. (2009). Perceptual learning of time-compressed and natural fast speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 126(5), 2649-2659. doi:10.1121/1.3216914.

    Abstract

    Speakers vary their speech rate considerably during a conversation, and listeners are able to quickly adapt to these variations in speech rate. Adaptation to fast speech rates is usually measured using artificially time-compressed speech. This study examined adaptation to two types of fast speech: artificially time-compressed speech and natural fast speech. Listeners performed a speeded sentence verification task on three series of sentences: normal-speed sentences, time-compressed sentences, and natural fast sentences. Listeners were divided into two groups to evaluate the possibility of transfer of learning between the time-compressed and natural fast conditions. The first group verified the natural fast before the time-compressed sentences, while the second verified the time-compressed before the natural fast sentences. The results showed transfer of learning when the time-compressed sentences preceded the natural fast sentences, but not when natural fast sentences preceded the time-compressed sentences. The results are discussed in the framework of theories on perceptual learning. Second, listeners show adaptation to the natural fast sentences, but performance for this type of fast speech does not improve to the level of time-compressed sentences.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). How much baseline correction do we need in ERP research? Extended GLM model can replace baseline correction while lifting its limits. Psychophysiology, 56(12): e13451. doi:10.1111/psyp.13451.

    Abstract

    Baseline correction plays an important role in past and current methodological debates in ERP research (e.g., the Tanner vs. Maess debate in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods), serving as a potential alternative to strong high‐pass filtering. However, the very assumptions that underlie traditional baseline also undermine it, implying a reduction in the signal‐to‐noise ratio. In other words, traditional baseline correction is statistically unnecessary and even undesirable. Including the baseline interval as a predictor in a GLM‐based statistical approach allows the data to determine how much baseline correction is needed, including both full traditional and no baseline correction as special cases. This reduces the amount of variance in the residual error term and thus has the potential to increase statistical power.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). M/EEG analysis of naturalistic stories: a review from speech to language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 457-473. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1546882.

    Abstract

    M/EEG research using naturally spoken stories as stimuli has focused largely on speech and not language processing. The temporal resolution of M/EEG is a two-edged sword, allowing for the study of the fine acoustic structure of speech, yet easily overwhelmed by the temporal noise of variation in constituent length. Recent theories on the neural encoding of linguistic structure require the temporal resolution of M/EEG, yet suffer from confounds when studied on traditional, heavily controlled stimuli. Recent methodological advances allow for synthesising naturalistic designs and traditional, controlled designs into effective M/EEG research on naturalistic language. In this review, we highlight common threads throughout the at-times distinct research traditions of speech and language processing. We conclude by examining the tradeoffs and successes of three M/EEG studies on fully naturalistic language paradigms and the future directions they suggest.
  • Alday, P. M., & Kretzschmar, F. (2019). Speed-accuracy tradeoffs in brain and behavior: Testing the independence of P300 and N400 related processes in behavioral responses to sentence categorization. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 285. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00285.

    Abstract

    Although the N400 was originally discovered in a paradigm designed to elicit a P300 (Kutas and Hillyard, 1980), its relationship with the P300 and how both overlapping event-related potentials (ERPs) determine behavioral profiles is still elusive. Here we conducted an ERP (N = 20) and a multiple-response speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) experiment (N = 16) on distinct participant samples using an antonym paradigm (The opposite of black is white/nice/yellow with acceptability judgment). We hypothesized that SAT profiles incorporate processes of task-related decision-making (P300) and stimulus-related expectation violation (N400). We replicated previous ERP results (Roehm et al., 2007): in the correct condition (white), the expected target elicits a P300, while both expectation violations engender an N400 [reduced for related (yellow) vs. unrelated targets (nice)]. Using multivariate Bayesian mixed-effects models, we modeled the P300 and N400 responses simultaneously and found that correlation between residuals and subject-level random effects of each response window was minimal, suggesting that the components are largely independent. For the SAT data, we found that antonyms and unrelated targets had a similar slope (rate of increase in accuracy over time) and an asymptote at ceiling, while related targets showed both a lower slope and a lower asymptote, reaching only approximately 80% accuracy. Using a GLMM-based approach (Davidson and Martin, 2013), we modeled these dynamics using response time and condition as predictors. Replacing the predictor for condition with the averaged P300 and N400 amplitudes from the ERP experiment, we achieved identical model performance. We then examined the piecewise contribution of the P300 and N400 amplitudes with partial effects (see Hohenstein and Kliegl, 2015). Unsurprisingly, the P300 amplitude was the strongest contributor to the SAT-curve in the antonym condition and the N400 was the strongest contributor in the unrelated condition. In brief, this is the first demonstration of how overlapping ERP responses in one sample of participants predict behavioral SAT profiles of another sample. The P300 and N400 reflect two independent but interacting processes and the competition between these processes is reflected differently in behavioral parameters of speed and accuracy.

    Additional information

    Supplementary material
  • Alhama, R. G., & Zuidema, W. (2019). A review of computational models of basic rule learning: The neural-symbolic debate and beyond. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(4), 1174-1194. doi:10.3758/s13423-019-01602-z.

    Abstract

    We present a critical review of computational models of generalization of simple grammar-like rules, such as ABA and ABB. In particular, we focus on models attempting to account for the empirical results of Marcus et al. (Science, 283(5398), 77–80 1999). In that study, evidence is reported of generalization behavior by 7-month-old infants, using an Artificial Language Learning paradigm. The authors fail to replicate this behavior in neural network simulations, and claim that this failure reveals inherent limitations of a whole class of neural networks: those that do not incorporate symbolic operations. A great number of computational models were proposed in follow-up studies, fuelling a heated debate about what is required for a model to generalize. Twenty years later, this debate is still not settled. In this paper, we review a large number of the proposed models. We present a critical analysis of those models, in terms of how they contribute to answer the most relevant questions raised by the experiment. After identifying which aspects require further research, we propose a list of desiderata for advancing our understanding on generalization.
  • Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., Jones, R. L., & Clark, V. (2009). A Semantics-Based Approach to the “no negative evidence” problem. Cognitive Science, 33(7), 1301-1316. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01055.x.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that children retreat from argument-structure overgeneralization errors (e.g., *Don’t giggle me) by inferring that frequently encountered verbs are unlikely to be grammatical in unattested constructions, and by making use of syntax-semantics correspondences (e.g., verbs denoting internally caused actions such as giggling cannot normally be used causatively). The present study tested a new account based on a unitary learning mechanism that combines both of these processes. Seventy-two participants (ages 5–6, 9–10, and adults) rated overgeneralization errors with higher (*The funny man’s joke giggled Bart) and lower (*The funny man giggled Bart) degrees of direct external causation. The errors with more-direct causation were rated as less unacceptable than those with less-direct causation. This finding is consistent with the new account, under which children acquire—in an incremental and probabilistic fashion—the meaning of particular constructions (e.g., transitive causative = direct external causation) and particular verbs, rejecting generalizations where the incompatibility between the two is too great.
  • Ambridge, B., & Rowland, C. F. (2009). Predicting children's errors with negative questions: Testing a schema-combination account. Cognitive Linguistics, 20(2), 225-266. doi:10.1515/COGL.2009.014.

    Abstract

    Positive and negative what, why and yes/no questions with the 3sg auxiliaries can and does were elicited from 50 children aged 3;3–4;3. In support of the constructivist “schema-combination” account, only children who produced a particular positive question type correctly (e.g., What does she want?) produced a characteristic “auxiliary-doubling” error (e.g., *What does she doesn't want?) for the corresponding negative question type. This suggests that these errors are formed by superimposing a positive question frame (e.g., What does THING PROCESS?) and an inappropriate negative frame (e.g., She doesn't PROCESS) learned from declarative utterances. In addition, a significant correlation between input frequency and correct production was observed for 11 of the 12 lexical frames (e.g., What does THING PROCESS?), although some negative question types showed higher rates of error than one might expect based on input frequency alone. Implications for constructivist and generativist theories of question-acquisition are discussed.
  • Ameka, F. K. (2009). Verb extensions in Likpe (Sɛkpɛlé). Journal of West African Languages, 36(1/2), 139-157.
  • Araújo, S., Fernandes, T., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read facilitates retrieval of phonological representations in rapid automatized naming: Evidence from unschooled illiterate, ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. Developmental Science, 22(4): e12783. doi:10.1111/desc.12783.

    Abstract

    Rapid automatized naming (RAN) of visual items is a powerful predictor of reading skills. However, the direction and locus of the association between RAN and reading is still largely unclear. Here we investigated whether literacy acquisition directly bolsters RAN efficiency for objects, adopting a strong methodological design, by testing three groups of adults matched in age and socioeconomic variables, who differed only in literacy/schooling: unschooled illiterate and ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. To investigate in a fine-grained manner whether and how literacy facilitates lexical retrieval, we orthogonally manipulated the word-form frequency (high vs. low) and phonological neighborhood density (dense vs. spare) of the objects’ names. We observed that literacy experience enhances the automaticity with which visual stimuli (e.g., objects) can be retrieved and named: relative to readers (ex-illiterate and literate), illiterate adults performed worse on RAN. Crucially, the group difference was exacerbated and significant only for those items that were of low frequency and from sparse neighborhoods. These results thus suggest that, regardless of schooling and age at which literacy was acquired, learning to read facilitates the access to and retrieval of phonological representations, especially of difficult lexical items.
  • Armeni, K., Willems, R. M., Van den Bosch, A., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2019). Frequency-specific brain dynamics related to prediction during language comprehension. NeuroImage, 198, 283-295. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.04.083.

    Abstract

    The brain's remarkable capacity to process spoken language virtually in real time requires fast and efficient information processing machinery. In this study, we investigated how frequency-specific brain dynamics relate to models of probabilistic language prediction during auditory narrative comprehension. We recorded MEG activity while participants were listening to auditory stories in Dutch. Using trigram statistical language models, we estimated for every word in a story its conditional probability of occurrence. On the basis of word probabilities, we computed how unexpected the current word is given its context (word perplexity) and how (un)predictable the current linguistic context is (word entropy). We then evaluated whether source-reconstructed MEG oscillations at different frequency bands are modulated as a function of these language processing metrics. We show that theta-band source dynamics are increased in high relative to low entropy states, likely reflecting lexical computations. Beta-band dynamics are increased in situations of low word entropy and perplexity possibly reflecting maintenance of ongoing cognitive context. These findings lend support to the idea that the brain engages in the active generation and evaluation of predicted language based on the statistical properties of the input signal.

    Additional information

    Supplementary data
  • Azar, Z., Backus, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). General and language specific factors influence reference tracking in speech and gesture in discourse. Discourse Processes, 56(7), 553-574. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2018.1519368.

    Abstract

    Referent accessibility influences expressions in speech and gestures in similar ways. Speakers mostly use richer forms as noun phrases (NPs) in speech and gesture more when referents have low accessibility, whereas they use reduced forms such as pronouns more often and gesture less when referents have high accessibility. We investigated the relationships between speech and gesture during reference tracking in a pro-drop language—Turkish. Overt pronouns were not strongly associated with accessibility but with pragmatic context (i.e., marking similarity, contrast). Nevertheless, speakers gestured more when referents were re-introduced versus maintained and when referents were expressed with NPs versus pronouns. Pragmatic context did not influence gestures. Further, pronouns in low-accessibility contexts were accompanied with gestures—possibly for reference disambiguation—more often than previously found for non-pro-drop languages in such contexts. These findings enhance our understanding of the relationships between speech and gesture at the discourse level.
  • Balakrishnan, B., Verheijen, J., Lupo, A., Raymond, K., Turgeon, C., Yang, Y., Carter, K. L., Whitehead, K. J., Kozicz, T., Morava, E., & Lai, K. (2019). A novel phosphoglucomutase-deficient mouse model reveals aberrant glycosylation and early embryonic lethality. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease, 42(5), 998-1007. doi:10.1002/jimd.12110.

    Abstract

    Patients with phosphoglucomutase (PGM1) deficiency, a congenital disorder of glycosylation (CDG) suffer from multiple disease phenotypes. Midline cleft defects are present at birth. Overtime, additional clinical phenotypes, which include severe hypoglycemia, hepatopathy, growth retardation, hormonal deficiencies, hemostatic anomalies, frequently lethal, early-onset of dilated cardiomyopathy and myopathy emerge, reflecting the central roles of the enzyme in (glycogen) metabolism and glycosylation. To delineate the pathophysiology of the tissue-specific disease phenotypes, we constructed a constitutive Pgm2 (mouse ortholog of human PGM1)-knockout (KO) mouse model using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. After multiple crosses between heterozygous parents, we were unable to identify homozygous life births in 78 newborn pups (P = 1.59897E-06), suggesting an embryonic lethality phenotype in the homozygotes. Ultrasound studies of the course of pregnancy confirmed Pgm2-deficient pups succumb before E9.5. Oral galactose supplementation (9 mg/mL drinking water) did not rescue the lethality. Biochemical studies of tissues and skin fibroblasts harvested from heterozygous animals confirmed reduced Pgm2 enzyme activity and abundance, but no change in glycogen content. However, glycomics analyses in serum revealed an abnormal glycosylation pattern in the Pgm2(+/-) animals, similar to that seen in PGM1-CDG.
  • Barthel, M., & Sauppe, S. (2019). Speech planning at turn transitions in dialogue is associated with increased processing load. Cognitive Science, 43(7): e12768. doi:10.1111/cogs.12768.

    Abstract

    Speech planning is a sophisticated process. In dialog, it regularly starts in overlap with an incoming turn by a conversation partner. We show that planning spoken responses in overlap with incoming turns is associated with higher processing load than planning in silence. In a dialogic experiment, participants took turns with a confederate describing lists of objects. The confederate’s utterances (to which participants responded) were pre‐recorded and varied in whether they ended in a verb or an object noun and whether this ending was predictable or not. We found that response planning in overlap with sentence‐final verbs evokes larger task‐evoked pupillary responses, while end predictability had no effect. This finding indicates that planning in overlap leads to higher processing load for next speakers in dialog and that next speakers do not proactively modulate the time course of their response planning based on their predictions of turn endings. The turn‐taking system exerts pressure on the language processing system by pushing speakers to plan in overlap despite the ensuing increase in processing load.
  • Bastiaanse, R., De Goede, D., & Love, T. (2009). Auditory sentence processing: An introduction. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 38(3), 177-179. doi:10.1007/s10936-009-9109-3.
  • Bauer, B. L. M. (2019). Language contact and language borrowing? Compound verb forms in the Old French translation of the Gospel of St. Mark. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 33, 210-250. doi:10.1075/bjl.00028.bau.

    Abstract

    This study investigates the potential influence of Latin syntax on the development of analytic verb forms in a well-defined and concrete instance of language contact, the Old French translation of a Latin Gospel. The data show that the formation of verb forms in the Old French was remarkably independent from the Latin original. While the Old French text closely follows the narrative of the Latin Gospel, its usage of compound verb forms is not dictated by the source text, as reflected e.g. in the quasi-omnipresence of the relative sequence finite verb + pp, which – with a few exceptions – all trace back to a different structure in the Latin text. Engels (VerenigdeStaten) Another important innovative difference in the Old French is the widespread use of aveir ‘have’ as an auxiliary, unknown in Latin. The article examines in detail the relation between the verbal forms in the two texts, showing that the translation is in line with of grammar. The usage of compound verb forms in the Old French Gospel is therefore autonomous rather than contact stimulated, let alone contact induced. The results challenge Blatt’s (1957) assumption identifying compound verb forms as a shared feature in European languages that should be ascribed to Latin influence.

    Files private

    Request files
  • Bekemeier, N., Brenner, D., Klepp, A., Biermann-Ruben, K., & Indefrey, P. (2019). Electrophysiological correlates of concept type shifts. PLoS One, 14(3): e0212624. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212624.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    dataset
  • Bentum, M., Ten Bosch, L., Van den Bosch, A., & Ernestus, M. (2019). Do speech registers differ in the predictability of words? International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 24(1), 98-130. doi:10.1075/ijcl.17062.ben.

    Abstract

    Previous research has demonstrated that language use can vary depending on the context of situation. The present paper extends this finding by comparing word predictability differences between 14 speech registers ranging from highly informal conversations to read-aloud books. We trained 14 statistical language models to compute register-specific word predictability and trained a register classifier on the perplexity score vector of the language models. The classifier distinguishes perfectly between samples from all speech registers and this result generalizes to unseen materials. We show that differences in vocabulary and sentence length cannot explain the speech register classifier’s performance. The combined results show that speech registers differ in word predictability.
  • Bergelson*, E., Casillas*, M., Soderstrom, M., Seidl, A., Warlaumont, A. S., & Amatuni, A. (2019). What Do North American Babies Hear? A large-scale cross-corpus analysis. Developmental Science, 22(1): e12724. doi:10.1111/desc.12724.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    desc12724-sup-0001-supinfo.pdf
  • Bertamini, M., Rampone, G., Makin, A. D. J., & Jessop, A. (2019). Symmetry preference in shapes, faces, flowers and landscapes. PeerJ, 7: e7078. doi:10.7717/peerj.7078.

    Abstract

    Most people like symmetry, and symmetry has been extensively used in visual art and architecture. In this study, we compared preference for images of abstract and familiar objects in the original format or when containing perfect bilateral symmetry. We created pairs of images for different categories: male faces, female faces, polygons, smoothed version of the polygons, flowers, and landscapes. This design allows us to compare symmetry preference in different domains. Each observer saw all categories randomly interleaved but saw only one of the two images in a pair. After recording preference, we recorded a rating of how salient the symmetry was for each image, and measured how quickly observers could decide which of the two images in a pair was symmetrical. Results reveal a general preference for symmetry in the case of shapes and faces. For landscapes, natural (no perfect symmetry) images were preferred. Correlations with judgments of saliency were present but generally low, and for landscapes the salience of symmetry was negatively related to preference. However, even within the category where symmetry was not liked (landscapes), the separate analysis of original and modified stimuli showed an interesting pattern: Salience of symmetry was correlated positively (artificial) or negatively (original) with preference, suggesting different effects of symmetry within the same class of stimuli based on context and categorization.

    Additional information

    Supplemental Information
  • Bielczyk, N. Z., Piskała, K., Płomecka, M., Radziński, P., Todorova, L., & Foryś, U. (2019). Time-delay model of perceptual decision making in cortical networks. PLoS One, 14: e0211885. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0211885.

    Abstract

    It is known that cortical networks operate on the edge of instability, in which oscillations can appear. However, the influence of this dynamic regime on performance in decision making, is not well understood. In this work, we propose a population model of decision making based on a winner-take-all mechanism. Using this model, we demonstrate that local slow inhibition within the competing neuronal populations can lead to Hopf bifurcation. At the edge of instability, the system exhibits ambiguity in the decision making, which can account for the perceptual switches observed in human experiments. We further validate this model with fMRI datasets from an experiment on semantic priming in perception of ambivalent (male versus female) faces. We demonstrate that the model can correctly predict the drop in the variance of the BOLD within the Superior Parietal Area and Inferior Parietal Area while watching ambiguous visual stimuli.

    Additional information

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

    Abstract

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

    Files private

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    In recent years, neuroimaging research in cognitive neuroscience has increasingly used multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate higher cognitive functions. Here we present DDTBOX, an open-source MVPA toolbox for electroencephalography (EEG) data. DDTBOX runs under MATLAB and is well integrated with the EEGLAB/ERPLAB and Fieldtrip toolboxes (Delorme and Makeig 2004; Lopez-Calderon and Luck 2014; Oostenveld et al. 2011). It trains support vector machines (SVMs) on patterns of event-related potential (ERP) amplitude data, following or preceding an event of interest, for classification or regression of experimental variables. These amplitude patterns can be extracted across space/electrodes (spatial decoding), time (temporal decoding), or both (spatiotemporal decoding). DDTBOX can also extract SVM feature weights, generate empirical chance distributions based on shuffled-labels decoding for group-level statistical testing, provide estimates of the prevalence of decodable information in the population, and perform a variety of corrections for multiple comparisons. It also includes plotting functions for single subject and group results. DDTBOX complements conventional analyses of ERP components, as subtle multivariate patterns can be detected that would be overlooked in standard analyses. It further allows for a more explorative search for information when no ERP component is known to be specifically linked to a cognitive process of interest. In summary, DDTBOX is an easy-to-use and open-source toolbox that allows for characterising the time-course of information related to various perceptual and cognitive processes. It can be applied to data from a large number of experimental paradigms and could therefore be a valuable tool for the neuroimaging community.
  • Bosker, H. R., Van Os, M., Does, R., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Counting 'uhm's: how tracking the distribution of native and non-native disfluencies influences online language comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 189-202. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.02.006.

    Abstract

    Disfluencies, like 'uh', have been shown to help listeners anticipate reference to low-frequency words. The associative account of this 'disfluency bias' proposes that listeners learn to associate disfluency with low-frequency referents based on prior exposure to non-arbitrary disfluency distributions (i.e., greater probability of low-frequency words after disfluencies). However, there is limited evidence for listeners actually tracking disfluency distributions online. The present experiments are the first to show that adult listeners, exposed to a typical or more atypical disfluency distribution (i.e., hearing a talker unexpectedly say uh before high-frequency words), flexibly adjust their predictive strategies to the disfluency distribution at hand (e.g., learn to predict high-frequency referents after disfluency). However, when listeners were presented with the same atypical disfluency distribution but produced by a non-native speaker, no adjustment was observed. This suggests pragmatic inferences can modulate distributional learning, revealing the flexibility of, and constraints on, distributional learning in incremental language comprehension.
  • Brandt, S., Kidd, E., Lieven, E., & Tomasello, M. (2009). The discourse bases of relativization: An investigation of young German and English-speaking children's comprehension of relative clauses. Cognitive Linguistics, 20(3), 539-570. doi:10.1515/COGL.2009.024.

    Abstract

    In numerous comprehension studies, across different languages, children have performed worse on object relatives (e.g., the dog that the cat chased) than on subject relatives (e.g., the dog that chased the cat). One possible reason for this is that the test sentences did not exactly match the kinds of object relatives that children typically experience. Adults and children usually hear and produce object relatives with inanimate heads and pronominal subjects (e.g., the car that we bought last year) (cf. Kidd et al., Language and Cognitive Processes 22: 860–897, 2007). We tested young 3-year old German- and English-speaking children with a referential selection task. Children from both language groups performed best in the condition where the experimenter described inanimate referents with object relatives that contained pronominal subjects (e.g., Can you give me the sweater that he bought?). Importantly, when the object relatives met the constraints identified in spoken discourse, children understood them as well as subject relatives, or even better. These results speak against a purely structural explanation for children's difficulty with object relatives as observed in previous studies, but rather support the usage-based account, according to which discourse function and experience with language shape the representation of linguistic structures.
  • Brehm, L., Taschenberger, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Mental representations of partner task cause interference in picture naming. Acta Psychologica, 199: 102888. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.102888.

    Abstract

    Interference in picture naming occurs from representing a partner's preparations to speak (Gambi, van de Cavey, & Pickering, 2015). We tested the origins of this interference using a simple non-communicative joint naming task based on Gambi et al. (2015), where response latencies indexed interference from partner task and partner speech content, and eye fixations to partner objects indexed overt attention. Experiment 1 contrasted a partner-present condition with a control partner-absent condition to establish the role of the partner in eliciting interference. For latencies, we observed interference from the partner's task and speech content, with interference increasing due to partner task in the partner-present condition. Eye-tracking measures showed that interference in naming was not due to overt attention to partner stimuli but to broad expectations about likely utterances. Experiment 2 examined whether an equivalent non-verbal task also elicited interference, as predicted from a language as joint action framework. We replicated the finding of interference due to partner task and again found no relationship between overt attention and interference. These results support Gambi et al. (2015). Individuals co-represent a partner's task while speaking, and doing so does not require overt attention to partner stimuli.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Speaker-specific processing of anomalous utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(4), 764-778. doi:10.1177/1747021818765547.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    Supplementary material
  • Brennan, J. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Phase synchronization varies systematically with linguistic structure composition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375(1791): 20190305. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0305.

    Abstract

    Computation in neuronal assemblies is putatively reflected in the excitatory and inhibitory cycles of activation distributed throughout the brain. In speech and language processing, coordination of these cycles resulting in phase synchronization has been argued to reflect the integration of information on different timescales (e.g. segmenting acoustics signals to phonemic and syllabic representations; (Giraud and Poeppel 2012 Nat. Neurosci.15, 511 (doi:10.1038/nn.3063)). A natural extension of this claim is that phase synchronization functions similarly to support the inference of more abstract higher-level linguistic structures (Martin 2016 Front. Psychol.7, 120; Martin and Doumas 2017 PLoS Biol. 15, e2000663 (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000663); Martin and Doumas. 2019 Curr. Opin. Behav. Sci.29, 77–83 (doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008)). Hale et al. (Hale et al. 2018 Finding syntax in human encephalography with beam search. arXiv 1806.04127 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1806.04127)) showed that syntactically driven parsing decisions predict electroencephalography (EEG) responses in the time domain; here we ask whether phase synchronization in the form of either inter-trial phrase coherence or cross-frequency coupling (CFC) between high-frequency (i.e. gamma) bursts and lower-frequency carrier signals (i.e. delta, theta), changes as the linguistic structures of compositional meaning (viz., bracket completions, as denoted by the onset of words that complete phrases) accrue. We use a naturalistic story-listening EEG dataset from Hale et al. to assess the relationship between linguistic structure and phase alignment. We observe increased phase synchronization as a function of phrase counts in the delta, theta, and gamma bands, especially for function words. A more complex pattern emerged for CFC as phrase count changed, possibly related to the lack of a one-to-one mapping between ‘size’ of linguistic structure and frequency band—an assumption that is tacit in recent frameworks. These results emphasize the important role that phase synchronization, desynchronization, and thus, inhibition, play in the construction of compositional meaning by distributed neural networks in the brain.
  • Broersma, M. (2009). Triggered codeswitching between cognate languages. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12(4), 447-462. doi:10.1017/S1366728909990204.
  • Brouwer, G. J., Tong, F., Hagoort, P., & Van Ee, R. (2009). Perceptual incongruence influences bistability and cortical activation. Plos One, 4(3): e5056. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005056.

    Abstract

    We employed a parametric psychophysical design in combination with functional imaging to examine the influence of metric changes in perceptual incongruence on perceptual alternation rates and cortical responses. Subjects viewed a bistable stimulus defined by incongruent depth cues; bistability resulted from incongruence between binocular disparity and monocular perspective cues that specify different slants (slant rivalry). Psychophysical results revealed that perceptual alternation rates were positively correlated with the degree of perceived incongruence. Functional imaging revealed systematic increases in activity that paralleled the psychophysical results within anterior intraparietal sulcus, prior to the onset of perceptual alternations. We suggest that this cortical activity predicts the frequency of subsequent alternations, implying a putative causal role for these areas in initiating bistable perception. In contrast, areas implicated in form and depth processing (LOC and V3A) were sensitive to the degree of slant, but failed to show increases in activity when these cues were in conflict.
  • Brucato, N., Cassar, O., Tonasso, L., Guitard, E., Migot-Nabias, F., Tortevoye, P., Plancoulaine, S., Larrouy, G., Gessain, A., & Dugoujon, J.-M. (2009). Genetic diversity and dynamics of the Noir Marron settlement in French Guyana: A study combining mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome and HTLV-1 genotyping [Abstract]. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 25(11), 1258. doi:10.1089/aid.2009.9992.

    Abstract

    The Noir Marron are the direct descendants of thousands of African slaves deported to the Guyanas during the Atlantic Slave Trade and later escaped mainly from Dutch colonial plantations. Six ethnic groups are officially recognized, four of which are located in French Guyana: the Aluku, the Ndjuka, the Saramaka, and the Paramaka. The aim of this study was: (1) to determine the Noir Marron settlement through genetic exchanges with other communities such as Amerindians and Europeans; (2) to retrace their origins in Africa. Buffy-coat DNA from 142 Noir Marron, currently living in French Guyana, were analyzed using mtDNA (typing of SNP coding regions and sequencing of HVSI/II) and Y chromosomes (typing STR and SNPs) to define their genetic profile. Results were compared to an African database composed by published data, updated with genotypes of 82 Fon from Benin, and 128 Ahizi and 63 Yacouba from the Ivory-Coast obtained in this study for the same markers. Furthermore, the determination of the genomic subtype of HTLV-1 strains (env gp21 and LTR regions), which can be used as a marker of migration of infected populations, was performed for samples from 23 HTLV-1 infected Noir Marron and compared with the corresponding database. MtDNA profiles showed a high haplotype diversity, in which 99% of samples belonged to the major haplogroup L, frequent in Africa. Each haplotype was largely represented on the West African coast, but notably higher homologies were obtained with the samples present in the Gulf of Guinea. Y Chromosome analysis revealed the same pattern, i.e. a conservation of the African contribution to the Noir Marron genetic profile, with 98% of haplotypes belonging to the major haplogroup E1b1a, frequent in West Africa. The genetic diversity was higher than those observed in African populations, proving the large Noir Marron’s fatherland, but a predominant identity in the Gulf of Guinea can be suggested. Concerning HTLV-1 genotyping, all the Noir Marron strains belonged to the large Cosmopolitan A subtype. However, among them 17/23 (74%) clustered with the West African clade comprizing samples originating from Ivory-Coast, Ghana, Burkina-Fasso and Senegal, while 3 others clustered in the Trans-Sahelian clade and the remaining 3 were similar to strains found in individuals in South America. Through the combined analyses of three approaches, we have provided a conclusive image of the genetic profile of the Noir Marron communities studied. The high degree of preservation of the African gene pool contradicts the expected gene flow that would correspond to the major cultural exchanges observed between Noir Marron, Europeans and Amerindians. Marital practices and historical events could explain these observations. Corresponding to historical and cultural data, the origin of the ethnic groups is widely dispatched throughout West Africa. However, all results converge to suggest an individualization from a major birthplace in the Gulf of Guinea.
  • Brucato, N., Tortevoye, P., Plancoulaine, S., Guitard, E., Sanchez-Mazas, A., Larrouy, G., Gessain, A., & Dugoujon, J.-M. (2009). The genetic diversity of three peculiar populations descending from the slave trade: Gm study of Noir Marron from French Guiana. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 332(10), 917-926. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2009.07.005.

    Abstract

    The Noir Marron communities are the direct descendants of African slaves brought to the Guianas during the four centuries (16th to 19th) of the Atlantic slave trade. Among them, three major ethnic groups have been studied: the Aluku, the Ndjuka and the Saramaka. Their history led them to share close relationships with Europeans and Amerindians, as largely documented in their cultural records. The study of Gm polymorphisms of immunoglobulins may help to estimate the amount of gene flow linked to these cultural exchanges. Surprisingly, very low levels of European contribution (2.6%) and Amerindian contribution (1.7%) are detected in the Noir Marron gene pool. On the other hand, an African contribution of 95.7% redraws their origin to West Africa (FSTless-than-or-equals, slant0.15). This highly preserved African gene pool of the Noir Marron is unique in comparison to other African American populations of Latin America, who are notably more admixed

    Additional information

    Table 4
  • Burenhult, N. (2009). [Commentary on M. Meschiari, 'Roots of the savage mind: Apophenia and imagination as cognitive process']. Quaderni di semantica, 30(2), 239-242. doi:10.1400/127893.
  • Burenhult, N., & Wegener, C. (2009). Preliminary notes on the phonology, orthography and vocabulary of Semnam (Austroasiatic, Malay Peninsula). Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 1, 283-312. Retrieved from http://www.jseals.org/.

    Abstract

    This paper reports tentatively some features of Semnam, a Central Aslian language spoken by some 250 people in the Perak valley, Peninsular Malaysia. It outlines the unusually rich phonemic system of this hitherto undescribed language (e.g. a vowel system comprising 36 distinctive nuclei), and proposes a practical orthography for it. It also includes the c. 1,250- item wordlist on which the analysis is based, collected intermittently in the field 2006-2008.
  • Burra, N., Hervais-Adelman, A., Celeghin, A., de Gelder, B., & Pegna, A. J. (2019). Affective blindsight relies on low spatial frequencies. Neuropsychologia, 128, 44-49. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.10.009.

    Abstract

    The human brain can process facial expressions of emotions rapidly and without awareness. Several studies in patients with damage to their primary visual cortices have shown that they may be able to guess the emotional expression on a face despite their cortical blindness. This non-conscious processing, called affective blindsight, may arise through an intact subcortical visual route that leads from the superior colliculus to the pulvinar, and thence to the amygdala. This pathway is thought to process the crude visual information conveyed by the low spatial frequencies of the stimuli. In order to investigate whether this is the case, we studied a patient (TN) with bilateral cortical blindness and affective blindsight. An fMRI paradigm was performed in which fearful and neutral expressions were presented using faces that were either unfiltered, or filtered to remove high or low spatial frequencies. Unfiltered fearful faces produced right amygdala activation although the patient was unaware of the presence of the stimuli. More importantly, the low spatial frequency components of fearful faces continued to produce right amygdala activity while the high spatial frequency components did not. Our findings thus confirm that the visual information present in the low spatial frequencies is sufficient to produce affective blindsight, further suggesting that its existence could rely on the subcortical colliculo-pulvino-amygdalar pathway.
  • Carrion Castillo, A., Van der Haegen, L., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N., Kavaklioglu, T., Badillo, S., Chavent, M., Saracco, J., Brysbaert, M., Fisher, S. E., Mazoyer, B., & Francks, C. (2019). Genome sequencing for rightward hemispheric language dominance. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 18(5): e12572. doi:10.1111/gbb.12572.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    gbb12572-sup-0001-AppendixS1.docx
  • Casasanto, D. (2009). [Review of the book Music, language, and the brain by Aniruddh D. Patel]. Language and Cognition, 1(1), 143-146. doi:10.1515/LANGCOG.2009.007.
  • Casasanto, D. (2009). Embodiment of abstract concepts: Good and bad in right- and left-handers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138, 351-367. doi:10.1037/a0015854.

    Abstract

    Do people with different kinds of bodies think differently? According to the body-specificity hypothesis, people who interact with their physical environments in systematically different ways should form correspondingly different mental representations. In a test of this hypothesis, 5 experiments investigated links between handedness and the mental representation of abstract concepts with positive or negative valence (e.g., honesty, sadness, intelligence). Mappings from spatial location to emotional valence differed between right- and left-handed participants. Right-handers tended to associate rightward space with positive ideas and leftward space with negative ideas, but left-handers showed the opposite pattern, associating rightward space with negative ideas and leftward with positive ideas. These contrasting mental metaphors for valence cannot be attributed to linguistic experience, because idioms in English associate good with right but not with left. Rather, right- and left-handers implicitly associated positive valence more strongly with the side of space on which they could act more fluently with their dominant hands. These results support the body-specificity hypothesis and provide evidence for the perceptuomotor basis of even the most abstract ideas.
  • Casillas, M., & Cristia, A. (2019). A step-by-step guide to collecting and analyzing long-format speech environment (LFSE) recordings. Collabra, 5(1): 24. doi:10.1525/collabra.209.

    Abstract

    Recent years have seen rapid technological development of devices that can record communicative behavior as participants go about daily life. This paper is intended as an end-to-end methodological guidebook for potential users of these technologies, including researchers who want to study children’s or adults’ communicative behavior in everyday contexts. We explain how long-format speech environment (LFSE) recordings provide a unique view on language use and how they can be used to complement other measures at the individual and group level. We aim to help potential users of these technologies make informed decisions regarding research design, hardware, software, and archiving. We also provide information regarding ethics and implementation, issues that are difficult to navigate for those new to this technology, and on which little or no resources are available. This guidebook offers a concise summary of information for new users and points to sources of more detailed information for more advanced users. Links to discussion groups and community-augmented databases are also provided to help readers stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Casillas, M., Rafiee, A., & Majid, A. (2019). Iranian herbalists, but not cooks, are better at naming odors than laypeople. Cognitive Science, 43(6): e12763. doi:10.1111/cogs.12763.

    Abstract

    Odor naming is enhanced in communities where communication about odors is a central part of daily life (e.g., wine experts, flavorists, and some hunter‐gatherer groups). In this study, we investigated how expert knowledge and daily experience affect the ability to name odors in a group of experts that has not previously been investigated in this context—Iranian herbalists; also called attars—as well as cooks and laypeople. We assessed naming accuracy and consistency for 16 herb and spice odors, collected judgments of odor perception, and evaluated participants' odor meta‐awareness. Participants' responses were overall more consistent and accurate for more frequent and familiar odors. Moreover, attars were more accurate than both cooks and laypeople at naming odors, although cooks did not perform significantly better than laypeople. Attars' perceptual ratings of odors and their overall odor meta‐awareness suggest they are also more attuned to odors than the other two groups. To conclude, Iranian attars—but not cooks—are better odor namers than laypeople. They also have greater meta‐awareness and differential perceptual responses to odors. These findings further highlight the critical role that expertise and type of experience have on olfactory functions.

    Additional information

    Supplementary Materials
  • Castells-Nobau, A., Eidhof, I., Fenckova, M., Brenman-Suttner, D. B., Scheffer-de Gooyert, J. M., Christine, S., Schellevis, R. L., Van der Laan, K., Quentin, C., Van Ninhuijs, L., Hofmann, F., Ejsmont, R., Fisher, S. E., Kramer, J. M., Sigrist, S. J., Simon, A. F., & Schenck, A. (2019). Conserved regulation of neurodevelopmental processes and behavior by FoxP in Drosophila. PLoS One, 14(2): e211652. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0211652.

    Abstract

    FOXP proteins form a subfamily of evolutionarily conserved transcription factors involved in the development and functioning of several tissues, including the central nervous system. In humans, mutations in FOXP1 and FOXP2 have been implicated in cognitive deficits including intellectual disability and speech disorders. Drosophila exhibits a single ortholog, called FoxP, but due to a lack of characterized mutants, our understanding of the gene remains poor. Here we show that the dimerization property required for mammalian FOXP function is conserved in Drosophila. In flies, FoxP is enriched in the adult brain, showing strong expression in ~1000 neurons of cholinergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic nature. We generate Drosophila loss-of-function mutants and UAS-FoxP transgenic lines for ectopic expression, and use them to characterize FoxP function in the nervous system. At the cellular level, we demonstrate that Drosophila FoxP is required in larvae for synaptic morphogenesis at axonal terminals of the neuromuscular junction and for dendrite development of dorsal multidendritic sensory neurons. In the developing brain, we find that FoxP plays important roles in α-lobe mushroom body formation. Finally, at a behavioral level, we show that Drosophila FoxP is important for locomotion, habituation learning and social space behavior of adult flies. Our work shows that Drosophila FoxP is important for regulating several neurodevelopmental processes and behaviors that are related to human disease or vertebrate disease model phenotypes. This suggests a high degree of functional conservation with vertebrate FOXP orthologues and established flies as a model system for understanding FOXP related pathologies.
  • Cattani, A., Floccia, C., Kidd, E., Pettenati, P., Onofrio, D., & Volterra, V. (2019). Gestures and words in naming: Evidence from crosslinguistic and crosscultural comparison. Language Learning, 69(3), 709-746. doi:10.1111/lang.12346.

    Abstract

    We report on an analysis of spontaneous gesture production in 2‐year‐old children who come from three countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Australia) and who speak two languages (Italian, English), in an attempt to tease apart the influence of language and culture when comparing children from different cultural and linguistic environments. Eighty‐seven monolingual children aged 24–30 months completed an experimental task measuring their comprehension and production of nouns and predicates. The Italian children scored significantly higher than the other groups on all lexical measures. With regard to gestures, British children produced significantly fewer pointing and speech combinations compared to Italian and Australian children, who did not differ from each other. In contrast, Italian children produced significantly more representational gestures than the other two groups. We conclude that spoken language development is primarily influenced by the input language over gesture production, whereas the combination of cultural and language environments affects gesture production.
  • Chang, Y.-N., Monaghan, P., & Welbourne, S. (2019). A computational model of reading across development: Effects of literacy onset on language processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 108: 104025. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.05.003.

    Abstract

    Cognitive development is shaped by interactions between cognitive architecture and environmental experiences of the growing brain. We examined the extent to which this interaction during development could be observed in language processing. We focused on age of acquisition (AoA) effects in reading, where early-learned words tend to be processed more quickly and accurately relative to later-learned words. We implemented a computational model including representations of print, sound and meaning of words, with training based on children’s gradual exposure to language. The model produced AoA effects in reading and lexical decision, replicating the larger effects of AoA when semantic representations are involved. Further, the model predicted that AoA would relate to differing use of the reading system, with words acquired before versus after literacy onset with distinctive accessing of meaning and sound representations. An analysis of behaviour from the English Lexicon project was consistent with the predictions: Words acquired before literacy are more likely to access meaning via sound, showing a suppressed AoA effect, whereas words acquired after literacy rely more on direct print to meaning mappings, showing an exaggerated AoA effect. The reading system reveals vestigial traces of acquisition reflected in differing use of word representations during reading.
  • Chang, Y.-N., & Monaghan, P. (2019). Quantity and diversity of preliteracy language exposure both affect literacy development: Evidence from a computational model of reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 23(3), 235-253. doi:10.1080/10888438.2018.1529177.

    Abstract

    Diversity of vocabulary knowledge and quantity of language exposure prior to literacy are key predictors of reading development. However, diversity and quantity of exposure are difficult to distinguish in behavioural studies, and so the causal relations with literacy are not well known. We tested these relations by training a connectionist triangle model of reading that learned to map between semantic; phonological; and, later, orthographic forms of words. The model first learned to map between phonology and semantics, where we manipulated the quantity and diversity of this preliterate language experience. Then the model learned to read. Both diversity and quantity of exposure had unique effects on reading performance, with larger effects for written word comprehension than for reading fluency. The results further showed that quantity of preliteracy language exposure was beneficial only when this was to a varied vocabulary and could be an impediment when exposed to a limited vocabulary.
  • Chen, X. S., Collins, L. J., Biggs, P. J., & Penny, D. (2009). High throughput genome-wide survey of small RNAs from the parasitic protists giardia intestinalis and trichomonas vaginalis. Genome biology and evolution, 1, 165-175. doi:10.1093/gbe/evp017.

    Abstract

    RNA interference (RNAi) is a set of mechanisms which regulate gene expression in eukaryotes. Key elements of RNAi are small sense and antisense RNAs from 19 to 26 nucleotides generated from double-stranded RNAs. miRNAs are a major type of RNAi-associated small RNAs and are found in most eukaryotes studied to date. To investigate whether small RNAs associated with RNAi appear to be present in all eukaryotic lineages, and therefore present in the ancestral eukaryote, we studied two deep-branching protozoan parasites, Giardia intestinalis and Trichomonas vaginalis. Little is known about endogenous small RNAs involved in RNAi of these organisms. Using Illumina Solexa sequencing and genome-wide analysis of small RNAs from these distantly related deep-branching eukaryotes, we identified 10 strong miRNA candidates from Giardia and 11 from Trichomonas. We also found evidence of Giardia siRNAs potentially involved in the expression of variant-specific-surface proteins. In addition, 8 new snoRNAs from Trichomonas are identified. Our results indicate that miRNAs are likely to be general in ancestral eukaryotes, and therefore are likely to be a universal feature of eukaryotes.
  • Chen, A. (2009). Intonation and reference maintenance in Turkish learners of Dutch: A first insight. AILE - Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Etrangère, 28(2), 67-91.

    Abstract

    This paper investigates L2 learners’ use of intonation in reference maintenance in comparison to native speakers at three longitudinal points. Nominal referring expressions were elicited from two untutored Turkish learners of Dutch and five native speakers of Dutch via a film retelling task, and were analysed in terms of pitch span and word duration. Effects of two types of change in information states were examined, between new and given and between new and accessible. We found native-like use of word duration in both types of change early on but different performances between learners and development over time in one learner in the use of pitch span. Further, the use of morphosyntactic devices had different effects on the two learners. The inter-learner differences and late systematic use of pitch span, in spite of similar use of pitch span in learners’ L1 and L2, suggest that learning may play a role in the acquisition of intonation as a device for reference maintenance.
  • Chen, A. (2009). Perception of paralinguistic intonational meaning in a second language. Language Learning, 59(2), 367-409.
  • Cholin, J., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2009). Effects of syllable preparation and syllable frequency in speech production: Further evidence for syllabic units at a post-lexical level. Language and Cognitive Processes, 24, 662-684. doi:10.1080/01690960802348852.

    Abstract

    In the current paper, we asked at what level in the speech planning process speakers retrieve stored syllables. There is evidence that syllable structure plays an essential role in the phonological encoding of words (e.g., online syllabification and phonological word formation). There is also evidence that syllables are retrieved as whole units. However, findings that clearly pinpoint these effects to specific levels in speech planning are scarce. We used a naming variant of the implicit priming paradigm to contrast voice onset latencies for frequency-manipulated disyllabic Dutch pseudo-words. While prior implicit priming studies only manipulated the item's form and/or syllable structure overlap we introduced syllable frequency as an additional factor. If the preparation effect for syllables obtained in the implicit priming paradigm proceeds beyond phonological planning, i.e., includes the retrieval of stored syllables, then the preparation effect should differ for high- and low frequency syllables. The findings reported here confirm this prediction: Low-frequency syllables benefit significantly more from the preparation than high-frequency syllables. Our findings support the notion of a mental syllabary at a post-lexical level, between the levels of phonological and phonetic encoding.
  • Collins, L. J., & Chen, X. S. (2009). Ancestral RNA: The RNA biology of the eukaryotic ancestor. RNA Biology, 6(5), 495-502. doi:10.4161/rna.6.5.9551.

    Abstract

    Our knowledge of RNA biology within eukaryotes has exploded over the last five years. Within new research we see that some features that were once thought to be part of multicellular life have now been identified in several protist lineages. Hence, it is timely to ask which features of eukaryote RNA biology are ancestral to all eukaryotes. We focus on RNA-based regulation and epigenetic mechanisms that use small regulatory ncRNAs and long ncRNAs, to highlight some of the many questions surrounding eukaryotic ncRNA evolution.
  • Comasco, E., Schijven, D., de Maeyer, H., Vrettou, M., Nylander, I., Sundström-Poromaa, I., & Olivier, J. D. A. (2019). Constitutive serotonin transporter reduction resembles maternal separation with regard to stress-related gene expression. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 10, 3132-3142. doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00595.

    Abstract

    Interactive effects between allelic variants of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) promoter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and stressors on depression symptoms have been documented, as well as questioned, by meta-analyses. Translational models of constitutive 5-htt reduction and experimentally controlled stressors often led to inconsistent behavioral and molecular findings and often did not include females. The present study sought to investigate the effect of 5-htt genotype, maternal separation, and sex on the expression of stress-related candidate genes in the rat hippocampus and frontal cortex. The mRNA expression levels of Avp, Pomc, Crh, Crhbp, Crhr1, Bdnf, Ntrk2, Maoa, Maob, and Comt were assessed in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of 5-htt ± and 5-htt +/+ male and female adult rats exposed, or not, to daily maternal separation for 180 min during the first 2 postnatal weeks. Gene- and brain region-dependent, but sex-independent, interactions between 5-htt genotype and maternal separation were found. Gene expression levels were higher in 5-htt +/+ rats not exposed to maternal separation compared with the other experimental groups. Maternal separation and 5-htt +/− genotype did not yield additive effects on gene expression. Correlative relationships, mainly positive, were observed within, but not across, brain regions in all groups except in non-maternally separated 5-htt +/+ rats. Gene expression patterns in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of rats exposed to maternal separation resembled the ones observed in rats with reduced 5-htt expression regardless of sex. These results suggest that floor effects of 5-htt reduction and maternal separation might explain inconsistent findings in humans and rodents
  • Corps, R. E., Pickering, M. J., & Gambi, C. (2019). Predicting turn-ends in discourse context. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(5), 615-627. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1552008.

    Abstract

    Research suggests that during conversation, interlocutors coordinate their utterances by predicting the speaker’s forthcoming utterance and its end. In two experiments, we used a button-pressing task, in which participants pressed a button when they thought a speaker reached the end of their utterance, to investigate what role the wider discourse plays in turn-end prediction. Participants heard two-utterance sequences, in which the content of the second utterance was or was not constrained by the content of the first. In both experiments, participants responded earlier, but not more precisely, when the first utterance was constraining rather than unconstraining. Response times and precision were unaffected by whether they listened to dialogues or monologues (Experiment 1) and by whether they read the first utterance out loud or silently (Experiment 2), providing no indication that activation of production mechanisms facilitates prediction. We suggest that content predictions aid comprehension but not turn-end prediction.

    Additional information

    plcp_a_1552008_sm1646.pdf
  • Croijmans, I., Speed, L., Arshamian, A., & Majid, A. (2019). Measuring the multisensory imagery of wine: The Vividness of Wine Imagery Questionnaire. Multisensory Research, 32(3), 179-195. doi:10.1163/22134808-20191340.

    Abstract

    When we imagine objects or events, we often engage in multisensory mental imagery. Yet, investigations of mental imagery have typically focused on only one sensory modality — vision. One reason for this is that the most common tool for the measurement of imagery, the questionnaire, has been restricted to unimodal ratings of the object. We present a new mental imagery questionnaire that measures multisensory imagery. Specifically, the newly developed Vividness of Wine Imagery Questionnaire (VWIQ) measures mental imagery of wine in the visual, olfactory, and gustatory modalities. Wine is an ideal domain to explore multisensory imagery because wine drinking is a multisensory experience, it involves the neglected chemical senses (smell and taste), and provides the opportunity to explore the effect of experience and expertise on imagery (from wine novices to experts). The VWIQ questionnaire showed high internal consistency and reliability, and correlated with other validated measures of imagery. Overall, the VWIQ may serve as a useful tool to explore mental imagery for researchers, as well as individuals in the wine industry during sommelier training and evaluation of wine professionals.
  • Cronin, K. A., Schroeder, K. K. E., Rothwell, E. S., Silk, J. B., & Snowdon, C. T. (2009). Cooperatively breeding cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) do not donate rewards to their long-term mates. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 123(3), 231-241. doi:10.1037/a0015094.

    Abstract

    This study tested the hypothesis that cooperative breeding facilitates the emergence of prosocial behavior by presenting cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) with the option to provide food rewards to pair-bonded mates. In Experiment 1, tamarins could provide rewards to mates at no additional cost while obtaining rewards for themselves. Contrary to the hypothesis, tamarins did not demonstrate a preference to donate rewards, behaving similar to chimpanzees in previous studies. In Experiment 2, the authors eliminated rewards for the donor for a stricter test of prosocial behavior, while reducing separation distress and food preoccupation. Again, the authors found no evidence for a donation preference. Furthermore, tamarins were significantly less likely to deliver rewards to mates when the mate displayed interest in the reward. The results of this study contrast with those recently reported for cooperatively breeding common marmosets, and indicate that prosocial preferences in a food donation task do not emerge in all cooperative breeders. In previous studies, cottontop tamarins have cooperated and reciprocated to obtain food rewards; the current findings sharpen understanding of the boundaries of cottontop tamarins’ food-provisioning behavior.
  • Cuskley, C., Dingemanse, M., Kirby, S., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). Cross-modal associations and synesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel–color mappings in a large online sample. Behavior Research Methods, 51, 1651-1675. doi:10.3758/s13428-019-01203-7.

    Abstract

    We report associations between vowel sounds, graphemes, and colours collected online from over 1000 Dutch speakers. We provide open materials including a Python implementation of the structure measure, and code for a single page web application to run simple cross-modal tasks. We also provide a full dataset of colour-vowel associations from 1164 participants, including over 200 synaesthetes identified using consistency measures. Our analysis reveals salient patterns in cross-modal associations, and introduces a novel measure of isomorphism in cross-modal mappings. We find that while acoustic features of vowels significantly predict certain mappings (replicating prior work), both vowel phoneme category and grapheme category are even better predictors of colour choice. Phoneme category is the best predictor of colour choice overall, pointing to the importance of phonological representations in addition to acoustic cues. Generally, high/front vowels are lighter, more green, and more yellow than low/back vowels. Synaesthetes respond more strongly on some dimensions, choosing lighter and more yellow colours for high and mid front vowels than non-synaesthetes. We also present a novel measure of cross-modal mappings adapted from ecology, which uses a simulated distribution of mappings to measure the extent to which participants' actual mappings are structured isomorphically across modalities. Synaesthetes have mappings that tend to be more structured than non-synaesthetes, and more consistent colour choices across trials correlate with higher structure scores. Nevertheless, the large majority (~70%) of participants produce structured mappings, indicating that the capacity to make isomorphically structured mappings across distinct modalities is shared to a large extent, even if the exact nature of mappings varies across individuals. Overall, this novel structure measure suggests a distribution of structured cross-modal association in the population, with synaesthetes on one extreme and participants with unstructured associations on the other.
  • Cutler, A. (2009). Greater sensitivity to prosodic goodness in non-native than in native listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125, 3522-3525. doi:10.1121/1.3117434.

    Abstract

    English listeners largely disregard suprasegmental cues to stress in recognizing words. Evidence for this includes the demonstration of Fear et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 97, 1893–1904 (1995)] that cross-splicings are tolerated between stressed and unstressed full vowels (e.g., au- of autumn, automata). Dutch listeners, however, do exploit suprasegmental stress cues in recognizing native-language words. In this study, Dutch listeners were presented with English materials from the study of Fear et al. Acceptability ratings by these listeners revealed sensitivity to suprasegmental mismatch, in particular, in replacements of unstressed full vowels by higher-stressed vowels, thus evincing greater sensitivity to prosodic goodness than had been shown by the original native listener group.
  • Cutler, A., Otake, T., & McQueen, J. M. (2009). Vowel devoicing and the perception of spoken Japanese words. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125(3), 1693-1703. doi:10.1121/1.3075556.

    Abstract

    Three experiments, in which Japanese listeners detected Japanese words embedded in nonsense sequences, examined the perceptual consequences of vowel devoicing in that language. Since vowelless sequences disrupt speech segmentation [Norris et al. (1997). Cognit. Psychol. 34, 191– 243], devoicing is potentially problematic for perception. Words in initial position in nonsense sequences were detected more easily when followed by a sequence containing a vowel than by a vowelless segment (with or without further context), and vowelless segments that were potential devoicing environments were no easier than those not allowing devoicing. Thus asa, “morning,” was easier in asau or asazu than in all of asap, asapdo, asaf, or asafte, despite the fact that the /f/ in the latter two is a possible realization of fu, with devoiced [u]. Japanese listeners thus do not treat devoicing contexts as if they always contain vowels. Words in final position in nonsense sequences, however, produced a different pattern: here, preceding vowelless contexts allowing devoicing impeded word detection less strongly (so, sake was detected less accurately, but not less rapidly, in nyaksake—possibly arising from nyakusake—than in nyagusake). This is consistent with listeners treating consonant sequences as potential realizations of parts of existing lexical candidates wherever possible.
  • Dabrowska, E., Rowland, C. F., & Theakston, A. (2009). The acquisition of questions with long-distance dependencies. Cognitive Linguistics, 20(3), 571-597. doi:10.1515/COGL.2009.025.

    Abstract

    A number of researchers have claimed that questions and other constructions with long distance dependencies (LDDs) are acquired relatively early, by age 4 or even earlier, in spite of their complexity. Analysis of LDD questions in the input available to children suggests that they are extremely stereotypical, raising the possibility that children learn lexically specific templates such as WH do you think S-GAP? rather than general rules of the kind postulated in traditional linguistic accounts of this construction. We describe three elicited imitation experiments with children aged from 4;6 to 6;9 and adult controls. Participants were asked to repeat prototypical questions (i.e., questions which match the hypothesised template), unprototypical questions (which depart from it in several respects) and declarative counterparts of both types of interrogative sentences. The children performed significantly better on the prototypical variants of both constructions, even when both variants contained exactly the same lexical material, while adults showed prototypicality e¤ects for LDD questions only. These results suggest that a general declarative complementation construction emerges quite late in development (after age 6), and that even adults rely on lexically specific templates for LDD questions.
  • Davids, N., Van den Brink, D., Van Turennout, M., Mitterer, H., & Verhoeven, L. (2009). Towards neurophysiological assessment of phonemic discrimination: Context effects of the mismatch negativity. Clinical Neurophysiology, 120, 1078-1086. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2009.01.018.

    Abstract

    This study focusses on the optimal paradigm for simultaneous assessment of auditory and phonemic discrimination in clinical populations. We investigated (a) whether pitch and phonemic deviants presented together in one sequence are able to elicit mismatch negativities (MMNs) in healthy adults and (b) whether MMN elicited by a change in pitch is modulated by the presence of the phonemic deviants.
  • Davidson, D. J., & Indefrey, P. (2009). An event-related potential study on changes of violation and error responses during morphosyntactic learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21(3), 433-446. Retrieved from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/jocn.2008.21031.

    Abstract

    Based on recent findings showing electrophysiological changes in adult language learners after relatively short periods of training, we hypothesized that adult Dutch learners of German would show responses to German gender and adjective declension violations after brief instruction. Adjective declension in German differs from previously studied morphosyntactic regularities in that the required suffixes depend not only on the syntactic case, gender, and number features to be expressed, but also on whether or not these features are already expressed on linearly preceding elements in the noun phrase. Violation phrases and matched controls were presented over three test phases (pretest and training on the first day, and a posttest one week later). During the pretest, no electrophysiological differences were observed between violation and control conditions, and participants’ classification performance was near chance. During the training and posttest phases, classification improved, and there was a P600-like violation response to declension but not gender violations. An error-related response during training was associated with improvement in grammatical discrimination from pretest to posttest. The results show that rapid changes in neuronal responses can be observed in adult learners of a complex morphosyntactic rule, and also that error-related electrophysiological responses may relate to grammar acquisition.
  • Davidson, D. J., & Indefrey, P. (2009). Plasticity of grammatical recursion in German learners of Dutch. Language and Cognitive Processes, 24, 1335-1369. doi:10.1080/01690960902981883.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have examined cross-serial and embedded complement clauses in West Germanic in order to distinguish between different types of working memory models of human sentence processing, as well as different formal language models. Here, adult plasticity in the use of these constructions is investigated by examining the response of German-speaking learners of Dutch using magnetoencephalography (MEG). In three experimental sessions spanning their initial acquisition of Dutch, participants performed a sentence-scene matching task with Dutch sentences including two different verb constituent orders (Dutch verb order, German verb order), and in addition rated similar constructions in a separate rating task. The average planar gradient of the evoked field to the initial verb within the cluster revealed a larger evoked response for the German order relative to the Dutch order between 0.2 to 0.4 s over frontal sensors after 2 weeks, but not initially. The rating data showed that constructions consistent with Dutch grammar, but inconsistent with the German grammar were initially rated as unacceptable, but this preference reversed after 3 months. The behavioural and electrophysiological results suggest that cortical responses to verb order preferences in complement clauses can change within 3 months after the onset of adult language learning, implying that this aspect of grammatical processing remains plastic into adulthood.
  • Davies, R., Kidd, E., & Lander, K. (2009). Investigating the psycholinguistic correlates of speechreading in preschool age children. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 44(2), 164-174. doi:10.1080/13682820801997189.

    Abstract

    Background: Previous research has found that newborn infants can match phonetic information in the lips and voice from as young as ten weeks old. There is evidence that access to visual speech is necessary for normal speech development. Although we have an understanding of this early sensitivity, very little research has investigated older children's ability to speechread whole words. Aims: The aim of this study was to identify aspects of preschool children's linguistic knowledge and processing ability that may contribute to speechreading ability. We predicted a significant correlation between receptive vocabulary and speechreading, as well as phonological working memory to be a predictor of speechreading performance. Methods & Procedures: Seventy-six children (n = 76) aged between 2;10 and 4;11 years participated. Children were given three pictures and were asked to point to the picture that they thought that the experimenter had silently mouthed (ten trials). Receptive vocabulary and phonological working memory were also assessed. The results were analysed using Pearson correlations and multiple regressions. Outcomes & Results: The results demonstrated that the children could speechread at a rate greater than chance. Pearson correlations revealed significant, positive correlations between receptive vocabulary and speechreading score, phonological error rate and age. Further correlations revealed significant, positive relationships between The Children's Test of Non-Word Repetition (CNRep) and speechreading score, phonological error rate and age. Multiple regression analyses showed that receptive vocabulary best predicts speechreading ability over and above phonological working memory. Conclusions & Implications: The results suggest that preschool children are capable of speechreading, and that this ability is related to vocabulary size. This suggests that children aged between 2;10 and 4;11 are sensitive to visual information in the form of audio-visual mappings. We suggest that current and future therapies are correct to include visual feedback as a therapeutic tool; however, future research needs to be conducted in order to elucidate further the role of speechreading in development.
  • Dediu, D. (2009). Genetic biasing through cultural transmission: Do simple Bayesian models of language evolution generalize? Journal of Theoretical Biology, 259, 552-561. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.04.004.

    Abstract

    The recent Bayesian approaches to language evolution and change seem to suggest that genetic biases can impact on the characteristics of language, but, at the same time, that its cultural transmission can partially free it from these same genetic constraints. One of the current debates centres on the striking differences between sampling and a posteriori maximising Bayesian learners, with the first converging on the prior bias while the latter allows a certain freedom to language evolution. The present paper shows that this difference disappears if populations more complex than a single teacher and a single learner are considered, with the resulting behaviours more similar to the sampler. This suggests that generalisations based on the language produced by Bayesian agents in such homogeneous single agent chains are not warranted. It is not clear which of the assumptions in such models are responsible, but these findings seem to support the rising concerns on the validity of the “acquisitionist” assumption, whereby the locus of language change and evolution is taken to be the first language acquirers (children) as opposed to the competent language users (the adults).
  • Dediu, D., & Moisik, S. R. (2019). Pushes and pulls from below: Anatomical variation, articulation and sound change. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4(1): 7. doi:10.5334/gjgl.646.

    Abstract

    This paper argues that inter-individual and inter-group variation in language acquisition, perception, processing and production, rooted in our biology, may play a largely neglected role in sound change. We begin by discussing the patterning of these differences, highlighting those related to vocal tract anatomy with a foundation in genetics and development. We use our ArtiVarK database, a large multi-ethnic sample comprising 3D intraoral optical scans, as well as structural, static and real-time MRI scans of vocal tract anatomy and speech articulation, to quantify the articulatory strategies used to produce the North American English /r/ and to statistically show that anatomical factors seem to influence these articulatory strategies. Building on work showing that these alternative articulatory strategies may have indirect coarticulatory effects, we propose two models for how biases due to variation in vocal tract anatomy may affect sound change. The first involves direct overt acoustic effects of such biases that are then reinterpreted by the hearers, while the second is based on indirect coarticulatory phenomena generated by acoustically covert biases that produce overt “at-a-distance” acoustic effects. This view implies that speaker communities might be “poised” for change because they always contain pools of “standing variation” of such biased speakers, and when factors such as the frequency of the biased speakers in the community, their positions in the communicative network or the topology of the network itself change, sound change may rapidly follow as a self-reinforcing network-level phenomenon, akin to a phase transition. Thus, inter-speaker variation in structured and dynamic communicative networks may couple the initiation and actuation of sound change.
  • Dediu, D., Janssen, R., & Moisik, S. R. (2019). Weak biases emerging from vocal tract anatomy shape the repeated transmission of vowels. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 1107-1115. doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0663-x.

    Abstract

    Linguistic diversity is affected by multiple factors, but it is usually assumed that variation in the anatomy of our speech organs plays no explanatory role. Here we use realistic computer models of the human speech organs to test whether inter-individual and inter-group variation in the shape of the hard palate (the bony roof of the mouth) affects acoustics of speech sounds. Based on 107 midsagittal MRI scans of the hard palate of human participants, we modelled with high accuracy the articulation of a set of five cross-linguistically representative vowels by agents learning to produce speech sounds. We found that different hard palate shapes result in subtle differences in the acoustics and articulatory strategies of the produced vowels, and that these individual-level speech idiosyncrasies are amplified by the repeated transmission of language across generations. Therefore, we suggest that, besides culture and environment, quantitative biological variation can be amplified, also influencing language.
  • Demontis, D., Walters, R. K., Martin, J., Mattheisen, M., Als, T. D., Agerbo, E., Baldursson, G., Belliveau, R., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Bækvad-Hansen, M., Cerrato, F., Chambert, K., Churchhouse, C., Dumont, A., Eriksson, N., Gandal, M., Goldstein, J. I., Grasby, K. L., Grove, J., Gudmundsson, O. O. and 61 moreDemontis, D., Walters, R. K., Martin, J., Mattheisen, M., Als, T. D., Agerbo, E., Baldursson, G., Belliveau, R., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Bækvad-Hansen, M., Cerrato, F., Chambert, K., Churchhouse, C., Dumont, A., Eriksson, N., Gandal, M., Goldstein, J. I., Grasby, K. L., Grove, J., Gudmundsson, O. O., Hansen, C. S., Hauberg, M. E., Hollegaard, M. V., Howrigan, D. P., Huang, H., Maller, J. B., Martin, A. R., Martin, N. G., Moran, J., Pallesen, J., Palmer, D. S., Pedersen, C. B., Pedersen, M. G., Poterba, T., Poulsen, J. B., Ripke, S., Robinson, E. B., Satterstrom, F. K., Stefansson, H., Stevens, C., Turley, P., Walters, G. B., Won, H., Wright, M. J., ADHD Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) Consortium, 23andme Research Team, Andreassen, O. A., Asherson, P., Burton, C. L., Boomsma, D. I., Cormand, B., Dalsgaard, S., Franke, B., Gelernter, J., Geschwind, D., Hakonarson, H., Haavik, J., Kranzler, H. R., Kuntsi, J., Langley, K., Lesch, K.-P., Middeldorp, C., Reif, A., Rohde, L. A., Roussos, P., Schachar, R., Sklar, P., Sonuga-Barke, E. J. S., Sullivan, P. F., Thapar, A., Tung, J. Y., Waldman, I. D., Medland, S. E., Stefansson, K., Nordentoft, M., Hougaard, D. M., Werge, T., Mors, O., Mortensen, P. B., Daly, M. J., Faraone, S. V., Børglum, A. D., & Neale, B. (2019). Discovery of the first genome-wide significant risk loci for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Nature Genetics, 51, 63-75. doi:10.1038/s41588-018-0269-7.

    Abstract

    Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly heritable childhood behavioral disorder affecting 5% of children and 2.5% of adults. Common genetic variants contribute substantially to ADHD susceptibility, but no variants have been robustly associated with ADHD. We report a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 20,183 individuals diagnosed with ADHD and 35,191 controls that identifies variants surpassing genome-wide significance in 12 independent loci, finding important new information about the underlying biology of ADHD. Associations are enriched in evolutionarily constrained genomic regions and loss-of-function intolerant genes and around brain-expressed regulatory marks. Analyses of three replication studies: a cohort of individuals diagnosed with ADHD, a self-reported ADHD sample and a meta-analysis of quantitative measures of ADHD symptoms in the population, support these findings while highlighting study-specific differences on genetic overlap with educational attainment. Strong concordance with GWAS of quantitative population measures of ADHD symptoms supports that clinical diagnosis of ADHD is an extreme expression of continuous heritable traits.
  • Dimroth, C., & Klein, W. (2009). Einleitung. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 153, 5-9.
  • Dimroth, C. (2009). L'acquisition de la finitude en allemand L2 à différents âges. AILE (Acquisition et Interaction en Langue étrangère)/LIA (Languages, Interaction, Acquisition), 1(1), 113-135.

    Abstract

    Ultimate attainment in adult second language learners often differs tremendously from the end state typically achieved by young children learning their first language (L1) or a second language (L2). The research summarized in this article concentrates on developmental steps and orders of acquisition attested in learners of different ages. Findings from a longitudinal study concerned with the acquisition of verbal morpho-syntax in German as an L2 by two young Russian learners (8 and 14 years old) are compared to findings from the acquisition of the same target language by younger children and by untutored adult learners. The study focuses on the acquisition of verbal morphology, the role of auxiliary verbs and the position of finite and non finite verbs in relation to negation and additive scope particles.
  • Dimroth, C. (2009). Lernervarietäten im Sprachunterricht. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 39(153), 60-80.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). The enduring spoken word [Comment on Oard 2008]. Science, 323(5917), 1010-1011. doi:10.1126/science.323.5917.1010b.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). The selective advantage of body-part terms. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(10), 2130-2136. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2008.11.008.

    Abstract

    This paper addresses the question why body-part terms are so often used to talk about other things than body parts. It is argued that the strategy of falling back on stable common ground to maximize the chances of successful communication is the driving force behind the selective advantage of body-part terms. The many different ways in which languages may implement this universal strategy suggest that, in order to properly understand the privileged role of the body in the evolution of linguistic signs, we have to look beyond the body to language in its socio-cultural context. A theory which acknowledges the interacting influences of stable common ground and diversified cultural practices on the evolution of linguistic signs will offer the most explanatory power for both universal patterns and language-specific variation.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). Kããã [finalist photo in the 2008 AAA Photo Contest]. Anthropology News, 50(3), 23-23.

    Abstract

    Kyeei Yao, an age group leader, oversees a festival in Akpafu-Mempeasem, Volta Region, Ghana. The expensive draped cloth, Ashanti-inspired wreath, strings of beads that are handed down through the generations, and digital wristwatch work together to remind us that culture is a moving target, always renewing and reshaping itself. Kããã is a Siwu ideophone for "looking attentively".
  • Drijvers, L., Vaitonyte, J., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Degree of language experience modulates visual attention to visible speech and iconic gestures during clear and degraded speech comprehension. Cognitive Science, 43: e12789. doi:10.1111/cogs.12789.

    Abstract

    Visual information conveyed by iconic hand gestures and visible speech can enhance speech comprehension under adverse listening conditions for both native and non‐native listeners. However, how a listener allocates visual attention to these articulators during speech comprehension is unknown. We used eye‐tracking to investigate whether and how native and highly proficient non‐native listeners of Dutch allocated overt eye gaze to visible speech and gestures during clear and degraded speech comprehension. Participants watched video clips of an actress uttering a clear or degraded (6‐band noise‐vocoded) action verb while performing a gesture or not, and were asked to indicate the word they heard in a cued‐recall task. Gestural enhancement was the largest (i.e., a relative reduction in reaction time cost) when speech was degraded for all listeners, but it was stronger for native listeners. Both native and non‐native listeners mostly gazed at the face during comprehension, but non‐native listeners gazed more often at gestures than native listeners. However, only native but not non‐native listeners' gaze allocation to gestures predicted gestural benefit during degraded speech comprehension. We conclude that non‐native listeners might gaze at gesture more as it might be more challenging for non‐native listeners to resolve the degraded auditory cues and couple those cues to phonological information that is conveyed by visible speech. This diminished phonological knowledge might hinder the use of semantic information that is conveyed by gestures for non‐native compared to native listeners. Our results demonstrate that the degree of language experience impacts overt visual attention to visual articulators, resulting in different visual benefits for native versus non‐native listeners.

    Additional information

    Supporting information
  • Drijvers, L., Van der Plas, M., Ozyurek, A., & Jensen, O. (2019). Native and non-native listeners show similar yet distinct oscillatory dynamics when using gestures to access speech in noise. NeuroImage, 194, 55-67. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.03.032.

    Abstract

    Listeners are often challenged by adverse listening conditions during language comprehension induced by external factors, such as noise, but also internal factors, such as being a non-native listener. Visible cues, such as semantic information conveyed by iconic gestures, can enhance language comprehension in such situations. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) we investigated whether spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics can predict a listener's benefit of iconic gestures during language comprehension in both internally (non-native versus native listeners) and externally (clear/degraded speech) induced adverse listening conditions. Proficient non-native speakers of Dutch were presented with videos in which an actress uttered a degraded or clear verb, accompanied by a gesture or not, and completed a cued-recall task after every video. The behavioral and oscillatory results obtained from non-native listeners were compared to an MEG study where we presented the same stimuli to native listeners (Drijvers et al., 2018a). Non-native listeners demonstrated a similar gestural enhancement effect as native listeners, but overall scored significantly slower on the cued-recall task. In both native and non-native listeners, an alpha/beta power suppression revealed engagement of the extended language network, motor and visual regions during gestural enhancement of degraded speech comprehension, suggesting similar core processes that support unification and lexical access processes. An individual's alpha/beta power modulation predicted the gestural benefit a listener experienced during degraded speech comprehension. Importantly, however, non-native listeners showed less engagement of the mouth area of the primary somatosensory cortex, left insula (beta), LIFG and ATL (alpha) than native listeners, which suggests that non-native listeners might be hindered in processing the degraded phonological cues and coupling them to the semantic information conveyed by the gesture. Native and non-native listeners thus demonstrated similar yet distinct spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics when recruiting visual cues to disambiguate degraded speech.

    Additional information

    1-s2.0-S1053811919302216-mmc1.docx
  • Drude, S. (2009). Nasal harmony in Awetí ‐ A declarative account. ReVEL - Revista Virtual de Estudos da Linguagem, (3). Retrieved from http://www.revel.inf.br/en/edicoes/?mode=especial&id=16.

    Abstract

    This article describes and analyses nasal harmony (or spreading of nasality) in Awetí. It first shows generally how sounds in prefixes adapt to nasality or orality of stems, and how nasality in stems also ‘extends’ to the left. With abstract templates we show which phonetically nasal or oral sequences are possible in Awetí (focusing on stops, pre-nasalized stops and nasals) and which phonological analysis is appropriate for account for this regularities. In Awetí, there are intrinsically nasal and oral vowels and ‘neutral’ vowels which adapt phonetically to a following vowel or consonant, as is the case of sonorant consonants. Pre-nasalized stops such as “nt” are nasalized variants of stops, not post-oralized variants of nasals as in Tupí-Guaranian languages. For nasals and stops in syllable coda (end of morphemes), we postulate arqui-phonemes which adapt to the preceding vowel or a following consonant. Finally, using a declarative approach, the analysis formulates ‘rules’ (statements) which account for the ‘behavior’ of nasality in Awetí words, making use of “structured sequences” on both the phonetic and phonological levels. So, each unit (syllable, morpheme, word etc.) on any level has three components, a sequence of segments, a constituent structure (where pre-nasalized stops, like diphthongs, correspond to two segments), and an intonation structure. The statements describe which phonetic variants can be combined (concatenated) with which other variants, depending on their nasality or orality.
  • Drude, S., Awete, W., & Aweti, A. (2019). A ortografia da língua Awetí. LIAMES: Línguas Indígenas Americanas, 19: e019014. doi:10.20396/liames.v19i0.8655746.

    Abstract

    Este trabalho descreve e fundamenta a ortografia da língua Awetí (Tupí, Alto Xingu/mt), com base na análise da estrutura fonológica e gramatical do Awetí. A ortografia é resultado de um longo trabalho colaborativo entre os três autores, iniciado em 1998. Ela não define apenas um alfabeto (a representação das vogais e das consoantes da língua), mas também aborda a variação interna, ressilabificação, lenição, palatalização e outros processos (morfo‑)fonológicos. Tanto a representação escrita da oclusiva glotal, quanto as consequências ortográficas da harmonia nasal receberam uma atenção especial. Apesar de o acento lexical não ser ortograficamente marcado em Awetí, a grande maioria dos afixos e partículas é abordada considerando o acento e sua interação com morfemas adjacentes, ao mesmo tempo determinando as palavras ortográficas. Finalmente foi estabelecida a ordem alfabética em que dígrafos são tratados como sequências de letras, já a oclusiva glotal ⟨ʼ⟩ é ignorada, facilitando o aprendizado do Awetí. A ortografia tal como descrita aqui tem sido usada por aproximadamente dez anos na escola para a alfabetização em Awetí, com bons resultados obtidos. Acreditamos que vários dos argumentos aqui levantados podem ser produtivamente transferidos para outras línguas com fenômenos semelhantes (a oclusiva glotal como consoante, harmonia nasal, assimilação morfo-fonológica, etc.).
  • Duffield, N., Matsuo, A., & Roberts, L. (2009). Factoring out the parallelism effect in VP-ellipsis: English vs. Dutch contrasts. Second Language Research, 25, 427-467. doi:10.1177/0267658309349425.

    Abstract

    Previous studies, including Duffield and Matsuo (2001; 2002; 2009), have demonstrated second language learners’ overall sensitivity to a parallelism constraint governing English VP-ellipsis constructions: like native speakers (NS), advanced Dutch, Spanish and Japanese learners of English reliably prefer ellipsis clauses with structurally parallel antecedents over those with non-parallel antecedents. However, these studies also suggest that, in contrast to English native speakers, L2 learners’ sensitivity to parallelism is strongly influenced by other non-syntactic formal factors, such that the constraint applies in a comparatively restricted range of construction-specific contexts. This article reports a set of follow-up experiments — from both computer-based as well as more traditional acceptability judgement tasks — that systematically manipulates these other factors. Convergent results from these tasks confirm a qualitative difference in the judgement patterns of the two groups, as well as important differences between theoreticians’ judgements and those of typical native speakers. We consider the implications of these findings for theories of ultimate attainment in second language acquisition (SLA), as well as for current theoretical accounts of ellipsis.
  • Dunn, M. (2009). Contact and phylogeny in Island Melanesia. Lingua, 11(11), 1664-1678. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2007.10.026.

    Abstract

    This paper shows that despite evidence of structural convergence between some of the Austronesian and non-Austronesian (Papuan) languages of Island Melanesia, statistical methods can detect two independent genealogical signals derived from linguistic structural features. Earlier work by the author and others has presented a maximum parsimony analysis which gave evidence for a genealogical connection between the non-Austronesian languages of island Melanesia. Using the same data set, this paper demonstrates for the non-statistician the application of more sophisticated statistical techniques—including Bayesian methods of phylogenetic inference, and shows that the evidence for common ancestry is if anything stronger than originally supposed.
  • Eimer, M., Kiss, M., Press, C., & Sauter, D. (2009). The roles of feature-specific task set and bottom-up salience in attentional capture: An ERP study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 1316-1328. doi:10.1037/a0015872.

    Abstract

    We investigated the roles of top-down task set and bottom-up stimulus salience for feature-specific attentional capture. ERPs and behavioural performance were measured in two experiments where spatially nonpredictive cues preceded visual search arrays that included a colour-defined target. When cue arrays contained a target-colour singleton, behavioural spatial cueing effects were accompanied by a cue-induced N2pc component, indicative of attentional capture. Behavioural cueing effects and N2pc components were only minimally attenuated for non-singleton relative to singleton target-colour cues, demonstrating that top-down task set has a much greater impact on attentional capture than bottom-up salience. For nontarget-colour singleton cues, no N2pc was triggered, but an anterior N2 component indicative of top-down inhibition was observed. In Experiment 2, these cues produced an inverted behavioural cueing effect, which was accompanied by a delayed N2pc to targets presented at cued locations. These results suggest that perceptually salient visual stimuli without task-relevant features trigger a transient location-specific inhibition process that prevents attentional capture, but delays the selection of subsequent target events.
  • Eising, E., Carrion Castillo, A., Vino, A., Strand, E. A., Jakielski, K. J., Scerri, T. S., Hildebrand, M. S., Webster, R., Ma, A., Mazoyer, B., Francks, C., Bahlo, M., Scheffer, I. E., Morgan, A. T., Shriberg, L. D., & Fisher, S. E. (2019). A set of regulatory genes co-expressed in embryonic human brain is implicated in disrupted speech development. Molecular Psychiatry, 24, 1065-1078. doi:10.1038/s41380-018-0020-x.

    Abstract

    Genetic investigations of people with impaired development of spoken language provide windows into key aspects of human biology. Over 15 years after FOXP2 was identified, most speech and language impairments remain unexplained at the molecular level. We sequenced whole genomes of nineteen unrelated individuals diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, a rare disorder enriched for causative mutations of large effect. Where DNA was available from unaffected parents, we discovered de novo mutations, implicating genes, including CHD3, SETD1A and WDR5. In other probands, we identified novel loss-of-function variants affecting KAT6A, SETBP1, ZFHX4, TNRC6B and MKL2, regulatory genes with links to neurodevelopment. Several of the new candidates interact with each other or with known speech-related genes. Moreover, they show significant clustering within a single co-expression module of genes highly expressed during early human brain development. This study highlights gene regulatory pathways in the developing brain that may contribute to acquisition of proficient speech.

    Additional information

    Eising_etal_2018sup.pdf
  • Enard, W., Gehre, S., Hammerschmidt, K., Hölter, S. M., Blass, T., Somel, M., Brückner, M. K., Schreiweis, C., Winter, C., Sohr, R., Becker, L., Wiebe, V., Nickel, B., Giger, T., Müller, U., Groszer, M., Adler, T., Aguilar, A., Bolle, I., Calzada-Wack, J. and 36 moreEnard, W., Gehre, S., Hammerschmidt, K., Hölter, S. M., Blass, T., Somel, M., Brückner, M. K., Schreiweis, C., Winter, C., Sohr, R., Becker, L., Wiebe, V., Nickel, B., Giger, T., Müller, U., Groszer, M., Adler, T., Aguilar, A., Bolle, I., Calzada-Wack, J., Dalke, C., Ehrhardt, N., Favor, J., Fuchs, H., Gailus-Durner, V., Hans, W., Hölzlwimmer, G., Javaheri, A., Kalaydjiev, S., Kallnik, M., Kling, E., Kunder, S., Moßbrugger, I., Naton, B., Racz, I., Rathkolb, B., Rozman, J., Schrewe, A., Busch, D. H., Graw, J., Ivandic, B., Klingenspor, M., Klopstock, T., Ollert, M., Quintanilla-Martinez, L., Schulz, H., Wolf, E., Wurst, W., Zimmer, A., Fisher, S. E., Morgenstern, R., Arendt, T., Hrabé de Angelis, M., Fischer, J., Schwarz, J., & Pääbo, S. (2009). A humanized version of Foxp2 affects cortico-basal ganglia circuits in mice. Cell, 137(5), 961-971. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.041.

    Abstract

    It has been proposed that two amino acid substitutions in the transcription factor FOXP2 have been positively selected during human evolution due to effects on aspects of speech and language. Here, we introduce these substitutions into the endogenous Foxp2 gene of mice. Although these mice are generally healthy, they have qualitatively different ultrasonic vocalizations, decreased exploratory behavior and decreased dopamine concentrations in the brain suggesting that the humanized Foxp2 allele affects basal ganglia. In the striatum, a part of the basal ganglia affected in humans with a speech deficit due to a nonfunctional FOXP2 allele, we find that medium spiny neurons have increased dendrite lengths and increased synaptic plasticity. Since mice carrying one nonfunctional Foxp2 allele show opposite effects, this suggests that alterations in cortico-basal ganglia circuits might have been important for the evolution of speech and language in humans.
  • Enfield, N. J. (2009). [Review of the book Serial verb constructions: A cross-linguistic typology ed. by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon]. Language, 85, 445-451. doi:10.1353/lan.0.0124.
  • Enfield, N. J. (2009). Common tragedy [Review of the book The native mind and the cultural construction of nature by Scott Atran Douglas Medin]. The Times Literary Supplement, September 18,2009, 10-11.
  • Enfield, N. J., & Diffloth, G. (2009). Phonology and sketch grammar of Kri, a Vietic language of Laos. Cahiers de Linguistique - Asie Orientale (CLAO), 38(1), 3-69.
  • Enfield, N. J., Stivers, T., Brown, P., Englert, C., Harjunpää, K., Hayashi, M., Heinemann, T., Hoymann, G., Keisanen, T., Rauniomaa, M., Raymond, C. W., Rossano, F., Yoon, K.-E., Zwitserlood, I., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Polar answers. Journal of Linguistics, 55(2), 277-304. doi:10.1017/S0022226718000336.

    Abstract

    How do people answer polar questions? In this fourteen-language study of answers to questions in conversation, we compare the two main strategies; first, interjection-type answers such as uh-huh (or equivalents yes, mm, head nods, etc.), and second, repetition-type answers that repeat some or all of the question. We find that all languages offer both options, but that there is a strong asymmetry in their frequency of use, with a global preference for interjection-type answers. We propose that this preference is motivated by the fact that the two options are not equivalent in meaning. We argue that interjection-type answers are intrinsically suited to be the pragmatically unmarked, and thus more frequent, strategy for confirming polar questions, regardless of the language spoken. Our analysis is based on the semantic-pragmatic profile of the interjection-type and repetition-type answer strategies, in the context of certain asymmetries inherent to the dialogic speech act structure of question–answer sequences, including sequential agency and thematic agency. This allows us to see possible explanations for the outlier distributions found in ǂĀkhoe Haiǁom and Tzeltal.
  • Enfield, N. J. (2009). Language: Social motives for syntax [Review of the book Origins of human communication by Michael Tomasello]. Science, 324(5923), 39. doi:10.1126/science.1172660.
  • Enfield, N. J. (2009). Relationship thinking and human pragmatics. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 60-78. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2008.09.007.

    Abstract

    The approach to pragmatics explored in this article focuses on elements of social interaction which are of universal relevance, and which may provide bases for a comparative approach. The discussion is anchored by reference to a fragment of conversation from a video-recording of Lao speakers during a home visit in rural Laos. The following points are discussed. First, an understanding of the full richness of context is indispensable for a proper understanding of any interaction. Second, human relationships are a primary locus of social organization, and as such constitute a key focus for pragmatics. Third, human social intelligence forms a universal cognitive under-carriage for interaction, and requires careful cross-cultural study. Fourth, a neo-Peircean framework for a general understanding of semiotic processes gives us a way of stepping away from language as our basic analytical frame. It is argued that in order to get a grip on pragmatics across human groups, we need to take a comparative approach in the biological sense—i.e. with reference to other species as well. From this perspective, human pragmatics is about using semiotic resources to try to meet goals in the realm of social relationships.
  • Erard, M. (2009). How Many Languages? Linguists Discover New Tongues in China. Science, 324(5925), 332-333. doi:10.1126/science.324.5925.332a.
  • Evans, N., & Levinson, S. C. (2009). The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32(5), 429-492. doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999094X.

    Abstract

    Talk of linguistic universals has given cognitive scientists the impression that languages are all built to a common pattern. In fact, there are vanishingly few universals of language in the direct sense that all languages exhibit them. Instead, diversity can be found at almost every level of linguistic organization. This fundamentally changes the object of enquiry from a cognitive science perspective. This target article summarizes decades of cross-linguistic work by typologists and descriptive linguists, showing just how few and unprofound the universal characteristics of language are, once we honestly confront the diversity offered to us by the world's 6,000 to 8,000 languages. After surveying the various uses of “universal,” we illustrate the ways languages vary radically in sound, meaning, and syntactic organization, and then we examine in more detail the core grammatical machinery of recursion, constituency, and grammatical relations. Although there are significant recurrent patterns in organization, these are better explained as stable engineering solutions satisfying multiple design constraints, reflecting both cultural-historical factors and the constraints of human cognition.
  • Evans, N., & Levinson, S. C. (2009). With diversity in mind: Freeing the language sciences from universal grammar [Author's response]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32(5), 472-484. doi:10.1017/S0140525X09990525.

    Abstract

    Our response takes advantage of the wide-ranging commentary to clarify some aspects of our original proposal and augment others. We argue against the generative critics of our coevolutionary program for the language sciences, defend the use of close-to-surface models as minimizing crosslinguistic data distortion, and stress the growing role of stochastic simulations in making generalized historical accounts testable. These methods lead the search for general principles away from idealized representations and towards selective processes. Putting cultural evolution central in understanding language diversity makes learning fundamental in the cognition of language: increasingly powerful models of general learning, paired with channelled caregiver input, seem set to manage language acquisition without recourse to any innate “universal grammar.” Understanding why human language has no clear parallels in the animal world requires a cross-species perspective: crucial ingredients are vocal learning (for which there are clear non-primate parallels) and an intentionattributing cognitive infrastructure that provides a universal base for language evolution. We conclude by situating linguistic diversity within a broader trend towards understanding human cognition through the study of variation in, for example, human genetics, neurocognition, and psycholinguistic processing.
  • Everett, D., & Majid, A. (2009). Adventures in the jungle of language. [Interview by Asifa Majid and Jon Sutton.]. The Psychologist, 22(4), 312-313. Retrieved from http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=22&editionID=174&ArticleID=1494.

    Abstract

    Daniel Everett has spent his career in the Amazon, challenging some fundamental ideas about language and thought. Asifa Majid and Jon Sutton pose the questions
  • Favier, S., Wright, A., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2019). Proficiency modulates between- but not within-language structural priming. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 3(suppl. 1), 105-124. doi:10.1007/s41809-019-00029-1.

    Abstract

    The oldest of the Celtic language family, Irish differs considerably from English, notably with respect to word order and case marking. In spite of differences in surface constituent structure, less restricted accounts of bilingual shared syntax predict that processing datives and passives in Irish should prime the production of their English equivalents. Furthermore, this cross-linguistic influence should be sensitive to L2 proficiency, if shared structural representations are assumed to develop over time. In Experiment 1, we investigated cross-linguistic structural priming from Irish to English in 47 bilingual adolescents who are educated through Irish. Testing took place in a classroom setting, using written primes and written sentence generation. We found that priming for prepositional-object (PO) datives was predicted by self-rated Irish (L2) proficiency, in line with previous studies. In Experiment 2, we presented translations of the materials to an English-educated control group (n=54). We found a within-language priming effect for PO datives, which was not modulated by English (L1) proficiency. Our findings are compatible with current theories of bilingual language processing and L2 syntactic acquisition.
  • Fedorenko, E., Patel, A., Casasanto, D., Winawer, J., & Gibson, E. (2009). Structural integration in language and music: Evidence for a shared system. Memory & Cognition, 37, 1-9. doi:10.3758/MC.37.1.1.

    Abstract

    In this study, we investigate whether language and music share cognitive resources for structural processing. We report an experiment that used sung materials and manipulated linguistic complexity (subject-extracted relative clauses, object-extracted relative clauses) and musical complexity (in-key critical note, out-of-key critical note, auditory anomaly on the critical note involving a loudness increase). The auditory-anomaly manipulation was included in order to test whether the difference between in-key and out-of-key conditions might be due to any salient, unexpected acoustic event. The critical dependent measure involved comprehension accuracies to questions about the propositional content of the sentences asked at the end of each trial. The results revealed an interaction between linguistic and musical complexity such that the difference between the subject- and object-extracted relative clause conditions was larger in the out-of-key condition than in the in-key and auditory-anomaly conditions. These results provide evidence for an overlap in structural processing between language and music.
  • Felker, E. R., Klockmann, H. E., & De Jong, N. H. (2019). How conceptualizing influences fluency in first and second language speech production. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40(1), 111-136. doi:10.1017/S0142716418000474.

    Abstract

    When speaking in any language, speakers must conceptualize what they want to say before they can formulate and articulate their message. We present two experiments employing a novel experimental paradigm in which the formulating and articulating stages of speech production were kept identical across conditions of differing conceptualizing difficulty. We tracked the effect of difficulty in conceptualizing during the generation of speech (Experiment 1) and during the abandonment and regeneration of speech (Experiment 2) on speaking fluency by Dutch native speakers in their first (L1) and second (L2) language (English). The results showed that abandoning and especially regenerating a speech plan taxes the speaker, leading to disfluencies. For most fluency measures, the increases in disfluency were similar across L1 and L2. However, a significant interaction revealed that abandoning and regenerating a speech plan increases the time needed to solve conceptual difficulties while speaking in the L2 to a greater degree than in the L1. This finding supports theories in which cognitive resources for conceptualizing are shared with those used for later stages of speech planning. Furthermore, a practical implication for language assessment is that increasing the conceptual difficulty of speaking tasks should be considered with caution.
  • Fields, E. C., Weber, K., Stillerman, B., Delaney-Busch, N., & Kuperberg, G. (2019). Functional MRI reveals evidence of a self-positivity bias in the medial prefrontal cortex during the comprehension of social vignettes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 14(6), 613-621. doi:10.1093/scan/nsz035.

    Abstract

    A large literature in social neuroscience has associated the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) with the processing of self-related information. However, only recently have social neuroscience studies begun to consider the large behavioral literature showing a strong self-positivity bias, and these studies have mostly focused on its correlates during self-related judgments and decision making. We carried out a functional MRI (fMRI) study to ask whether the mPFC would show effects of the self-positivity bias in a paradigm that probed participants’ self-concept without any requirement of explicit self-judgment. We presented social vignettes that were either self-relevant or non-self-relevant with a neutral, positive, or negative outcome described in the second sentence. In previous work using event-related potentials, this paradigm has shown evidence of a self-positivity bias that influences early stages of semantically processing incoming stimuli. In the present fMRI study, we found evidence for this bias within the mPFC: an interaction between self-relevance and valence, with only positive scenarios showing a self vs other effect within the mPFC. We suggest that the mPFC may play a role in maintaining a positively-biased self-concept and discuss the implications of these findings for the social neuroscience of the self and the role of the mPFC.

    Additional information

    Supplementary data
  • Fisher, S. E., & Tilot, A. K. (Eds.). (2019). Bridging senses: Novel insights from synaesthesia [Special Issue]. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 374.
  • Fisher, S. E., & Tilot, A. K. (2019). Bridging senses: Novel insights from synaesthesia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 374: 20190022. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0022.
  • Fisher, S. E., & Scharff, C. (2009). FOXP2 as a molecular window into speech and language [Review article]. Trends in Genetics, 25, 166-177. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2009.03.002.

    Abstract

    Rare mutations of the FOXP2 transcription factor gene cause a monogenic syndrome characterized by impaired speech development and linguistic deficits. Recent genomic investigations indicate that its downstream neural targets make broader impacts on common language impairments, bridging clinically distinct disorders. Moreover, the striking conservation of both FoxP2 sequence and neural expression in different vertebrates facilitates the use of animal models to study ancestral pathways that have been recruited towards human speech and language. Intriguingly, reduced FoxP2 dosage yields abnormal synaptic plasticity and impaired motor-skill learning in mice, and disrupts vocal learning in songbirds. Converging data indicate that Foxp2 is important for modulating the plasticity of relevant neural circuits. This body of research represents the first functional genetic forays into neural mechanisms contributing to human spoken language.
  • Fisher, S. E. (2019). Human genetics: The evolving story of FOXP2. Current Biology, 29(2), R65-R67. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.047.

    Abstract

    FOXP2 mutations cause a speech and language disorder, raising interest in potential roles of this gene in human evolution. A new study re-evaluates genomic variation at the human FOXP2 locus but finds no evidence of recent adaptive evolution.

Share this page