Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 297
  • Akita, K., & Dingemanse, M. (2019). Ideophones (Mimetics, Expressives). In Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.477.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    M/EEG research using naturally spoken stories as stimuli has focused largely on speech and not language processing. The temporal resolution of M/EEG is a two-edged sword, allowing for the study of the fine acoustic structure of speech, yet easily overwhelmed by the temporal noise of variation in constituent length. Recent theories on the neural encoding of linguistic structure require the temporal resolution of M/EEG, yet suffer from confounds when studied on traditional, heavily controlled stimuli. Recent methodological advances allow for synthesising naturalistic designs and traditional, controlled designs into effective M/EEG research on naturalistic language. In this review, we highlight common threads throughout the at-times distinct research traditions of speech and language processing. We conclude by examining the tradeoffs and successes of three M/EEG studies on fully naturalistic language paradigms and the future directions they suggest.
  • 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.

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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alhama, R. G., Siegelman, N., Frost, R., & Armstrong, B. C. (2019). The role of information in visual word recognition: A perceptually-constrained connectionist account. In A. Goel, C. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 83-89). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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  • 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.
  • Basnakova, J. (2019). Beyond the language given: The neurobiological infrastructure for pragmatic inferencing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • 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.

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

    Abstract

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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    Supplementary material
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Incremental interpretation in the first and second language. In M. Brown, & B. Dailey (Eds.), BUCLD 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 109-122). Sommerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Brehm, L., 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.
  • 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.
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2019). The dynamics of lexical activation and competition in bilinguals’ first versus second language. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1342-1346). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    Speech input causes listeners to activate multiple candidate words which then compete with one another. These include onset competitors, that share a beginning (bumper, butter), but also, counterintuitively, rhyme competitors, sharing an ending (bumper, jumper). In L1, competition is typically stronger for onset than for rhyme. In L2, onset competition has been attested but rhyme competition has heretofore remained largely unexamined. We assessed L1 (Dutch) and L2 (English) word recognition by the same late-bilingual individuals. In each language, eye gaze was recorded as listeners heard sentences and viewed sets of drawings: three unrelated, one depicting an onset or rhyme competitor of a word in the input. Activation patterns revealed substantial onset competition but no significant rhyme competition in either L1 or L2. Rhyme competition may thus be a “luxury” feature of maximally efficient listening, to be abandoned when resources are scarcer, as in listening by late bilinguals, in either language.
  • Burenkova, O. V., & Fisher, S. E. (2019). Genetic insights into the neurobiology of speech and language. In E. Grigorenko, Y. Shtyrov, & P. McCardle (Eds.), All About Language: Science, Theory, and Practice. Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing, Inc.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    gbb12572-sup-0001-AppendixS1.docx
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    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. (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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    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.
  • 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., Burchfield, A., & Antoniou, M. (2019). A criterial interlocutor tally for successful talker adaptation? In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1485-1489). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    Part of the remarkable efficiency of listening is accommodation to unfamiliar talkers’ specific pronunciations by retuning of phonemic intercategory boundaries. Such retuning occurs in second (L2) as well as first language (L1); however, recent research with emigrés revealed successful adaptation in the environmental L2 but, unprecedentedly, not in L1 despite continuing L1 use. A possible explanation involving relative exposure to novel talkers is here tested in heritage language users with Mandarin as family L1 and English as environmental language. In English, exposure to an ambiguous sound in disambiguating word contexts prompted the expected adjustment of phonemic boundaries in subsequent categorisation. However, no adjustment occurred in Mandarin, again despite regular use. Participants reported highly asymmetric interlocutor counts in the two languages. We conclude that successful retuning ability requires regular exposure to novel talkers in the language in question, a criterion not met for the emigrés’ or for these heritage users’ L1.
  • 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.
  • Devanna, P., Dediu, D., & Vernes, S. C. (2019). The Genetics of Language: From complex genes to complex communication. In S.-A. Rueschemeyer, & M. G. Gaskell (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (2nd ed., pp. 865-898). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Abstract

    This chapter discusses the genetic foundations of the human capacity for language. It reviews the molecular structure of the genome and the complex molecular mechanisms that allow genetic information to influence multiple levels of biology. It goes on to describe the active regulation of genes and their formation of complex genetic pathways that in turn control the cellular environment and function. At each of these levels, examples of genes and genetic variants that may influence the human capacity for language are given. Finally, it discusses the value of using animal models to understand the genetic underpinnings of speech and language. From this chapter will emerge the complexity of the genome in action and the multidisciplinary efforts that are currently made to bridge the gap between genetics and language.
  • Dideriksen, C., Fusaroli, R., Tylén, K., Dingemanse, M., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Contextualizing Conversational Strategies: Backchannel, Repair and Linguistic Alignment in Spontaneous and Task-Oriented Conversations. In A. K. Goel, C. M. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 261-267). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Do interlocutors adjust their conversational strategies to the specific contextual demands of a given situation? Prior studies have yielded conflicting results, making it unclear how strategies vary with demands. We combine insights from qualitative and quantitative approaches in a within-participant experimental design involving two different contexts: spontaneously occurring conversations (SOC) and task-oriented conversations (TOC). We systematically assess backchanneling, other-repair and linguistic alignment. We find that SOC exhibit a higher number of backchannels, a reduced and more generic repair format and higher rates of lexical and syntactic alignment. TOC are characterized by a high number of specific repairs and a lower rate of lexical and syntactic alignment. However, when alignment occurs, more linguistic forms are aligned. The findings show that conversational strategies adapt to specific contextual demands.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2019). 'Ideophone' as a comparative concept. In K. Akita, & P. Pardeshi (Eds.), Ideophones, Mimetics, and Expressives (pp. 13-33). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/ill.16.02din.

    Abstract

    This chapter makes the case for ‘ideophone’ as a comparative concept: a notion that captures a recurrent typological pattern and provides a template for understanding language-specific phenomena that prove similar. It revises an earlier definition to account for the observation that ideophones typically form an open lexical class, and uses insights from canonical typology to explore the larger typological space. According to the resulting definition, a canonical ideophone is a member of an open lexical class of marked words that depict sensory imagery. The five elements of this definition can be seen as dimensions that together generate a possibility space to characterise cross-linguistic diversity in depictive means of expression. This approach allows for the systematic comparative treatment of ideophones and ideophone-like phenomena. Some phenomena in the larger typological space are discussed to demonstrate the utility of the approach: phonaesthemes in European languages, specialised semantic classes in West-Chadic, diachronic diversions in Aslian, and depicting constructions in signed languages.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S1053811919302216-mmc1.docx
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    Supporting information
  • Drijvers, L. (2019). On the oscillatory dynamics underlying speech-gesture integration in clear and adverse listening conditions. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    Eising_etal_2018sup.pdf
  • 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.
  • Erard, M. (2019). Language aptitude: Insights from hyperpolyglots. In Z. Wen, P. Skehan, A. Biedroń, S. Li, & R. L. Sparks (Eds.), Language aptitude: Advancing theory, testing, research and practice (pp. 153-167). Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis.

    Abstract

    Over the decades, high-intensity language learners scattered over the globe referred to as “hyperpolyglots” have undertaken a natural experiment into the limits of learning and acquiring proficiencies in multiple languages. This chapter details several ways in which hyperpolyglots are relevant to research on aptitude. First, historical hyperpolyglots Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, Emil Krebs, Elihu Burritt, and Lomb Kató are described in terms of how they viewed their own exceptional outcomes. Next, I draw on results from an online survey with 390 individuals to explore how contemporary hyperpolyglots consider the explanatory value of aptitude. Third, the challenges involved in studying the genetic basis of hyperpolyglottism (and by extension of language aptitude) are discussed. This mosaic of data is meant to inform the direction of future aptitude research that takes hyperpolyglots, one type of exceptional language learner and user, into account.
  • Fairs, A. (2019). Linguistic dual-tasking: Understanding temporal overlap between production and comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • 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.
  • Fisher, S. E. (2019). Key issues and future directions: Genes and language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 609-620). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • 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.

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  • Fitz, H., & Chang, F. (2019). Language ERPs reflect learning through prediction error propagation. Cognitive Psychology, 111, 15-52. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2019.03.002.

    Abstract

    Event-related potentials (ERPs) provide a window into how the brain is processing language. Here, we propose a theory that argues that ERPs such as the N400 and P600 arise as side effects of an error-based learning mechanism that explains linguistic adaptation and language learning. We instantiated this theory in a connectionist model that can simulate data from three studies on the N400 (amplitude modulation by expectancy, contextual constraint, and sentence position), five studies on the P600 (agreement, tense, word category, subcategorization and garden-path sentences), and a study on the semantic P600 in role reversal anomalies. Since ERPs are learning signals, this account explains adaptation of ERP amplitude to within-experiment frequency manipulations and the way ERP effects are shaped by word predictability in earlier sentences. Moreover, it predicts that ERPs can change over language development. The model provides an account of the sensitivity of ERPs to expectation mismatch, the relative timing of the N400 and P600, the semantic nature of the N400, the syntactic nature of the P600, and the fact that ERPs can change with experience. This approach suggests that comprehension ERPs are related to sentence production and language acquisition mechanisms
  • Flecken, M., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Can the English stand the bottle like the Dutch? Effects of relational categories on object perception. Cognitive Neuropsychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/02643294.2019.1607272.

    Abstract

    Does language influence how we perceive the world? This study examines how linguistic encoding of relational information by means of verbs implicitly affects visual processing, by measuring perceptual judgements behaviourally, and visual perception and attention in EEG. Verbal systems can vary cross-linguistically: Dutch uses posture verbs to describe inanimate object configurations (the bottle stands/lies on the table). In English, however, such use of posture verbs is rare (the bottle is on the table). Using this test case, we ask (1) whether previously attested language-perception interactions extend to more complex domains, and (2) whether differences in linguistic usage probabilities affect perception. We report three nonverbal experiments in which Dutch and English participants performed a picture-matching task. Prime and target pictures contained object configurations (e.g., a bottle on a table); in the critical condition, prime and target showed a mismatch in object position (standing/lying). In both language groups, we found similar responses, suggesting that probabilistic differences in linguistic encoding of relational information do not affect perception.
  • Francks, C. (2019). In search of the biological roots of typical and atypical human brain asymmetry. Physics of Life Reviews, 30, 22-24. doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2019.07.004.
  • Francks, C. (2019). The genetic bases of brain lateralization. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 595-608). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Eisner, F. (2019). Consistency influences altered auditory feedback processing. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(10), 2371-2379. doi:10.1177/1747021819838939.

    Abstract

    Previous research on the effect of perturbed auditory feedback in speech production has focused on two types of responses. In the short term, speakers generate compensatory motor commands in response to unexpected perturbations. In the longer term, speakers adapt feedforward motor programmes in response to feedback perturbations, to avoid future errors. The current study investigated the relation between these two types of responses to altered auditory feedback. Specifically, it was hypothesised that consistency in previous feedback perturbations would influence whether speakers adapt their feedforward motor programmes. In an altered auditory feedback paradigm, formant perturbations were applied either across all trials (the consistent condition) or only to some trials, whereas the others remained unperturbed (the inconsistent condition). The results showed that speakers’ responses were affected by feedback consistency, with stronger speech changes in the consistent condition compared with the inconsistent condition. Current models of speech-motor control can explain this consistency effect. However, the data also suggest that compensation and adaptation are distinct processes, which are not in line with all current models.
  • French, C. A., Vinueza Veloz, M. F., Zhou, K., Peter, S., Fisher, S. E., Costa, R. M., & De Zeeuw, C. I. (2019). Differential effects of Foxp2 disruption in distinct motor circuits. Molecular Psychiatry, 24, 447-462. doi:10.1038/s41380-018-0199-x.

    Abstract

    Disruptions of the FOXP2 gene cause a speech and language disorder involving difficulties in sequencing orofacial movements. FOXP2 is expressed in cortico-striatal and cortico-cerebellar circuits important for fine motor skills, and affected individuals show abnormalities in these brain regions. We selectively disrupted Foxp2 in the cerebellar Purkinje cells, striatum or cortex of mice and assessed the effects on skilled motor behaviour using an operant lever-pressing task. Foxp2 loss in each region impacted behaviour differently, with striatal and Purkinje cell disruptions affecting the variability and the speed of lever-press sequences, respectively. Mice lacking Foxp2 in Purkinje cells showed a prominent phenotype involving slowed lever pressing as well as deficits in skilled locomotion. In vivo recordings from Purkinje cells uncovered an increased simple spike firing rate and decreased modulation of firing during limb movements. This was caused by increased intrinsic excitability rather than changes in excitatory or inhibitory inputs. Our findings show that Foxp2 can modulate different aspects of motor behaviour in distinct brain regions, and uncover an unknown role for Foxp2 in the modulation of Purkinje cell activity that severely impacts skilled movements.
  • Frost, R. L. A., Monaghan, P., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Mark my words: High frequency marker words impact early stages of language learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(10), 1883-1898. doi:10.1037/xlm0000683.

    Abstract

    High frequency words have been suggested to benefit both speech segmentation and grammatical categorization of the words around them. Despite utilizing similar information, these tasks are usually investigated separately in studies examining learning. We determined whether including high frequency words in continuous speech could support categorization when words are being segmented for the first time. We familiarized learners with continuous artificial speech comprising repetitions of target words, which were preceded by high-frequency marker words. Crucially, marker words distinguished targets into 2 distributionally defined categories. We measured learning with segmentation and categorization tests and compared performance against a control group that heard the artificial speech without these marker words (i.e., just the targets, with no cues for categorization). Participants segmented the target words from speech in both conditions, but critically when the marker words were present, they influenced acquisition of word-referent mappings in a subsequent transfer task, with participants demonstrating better early learning for mappings that were consistent (rather than inconsistent) with the distributional categories. We propose that high-frequency words may assist early grammatical categorization, while speech segmentation is still being learned.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental Material
  • Frost, R. L. A., Isbilen, E. S., Christiansen, M. H., & Monaghan, P. (2019). Testing the limits of non-adjacent dependency learning: Statistical segmentation and generalisation across domains. In A. K. Goel, C. M. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 1787-1793). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Achieving linguistic proficiency requires identifying words from speech, and discovering the constraints that govern the way those words are used. In a recent study of non-adjacent dependency learning, Frost and Monaghan (2016) demonstrated that learners may perform these tasks together, using similar statistical processes - contrary to prior suggestions. However, in their study, non-adjacent dependencies were marked by phonological cues (plosive-continuant-plosive structure), which may have influenced learning. Here, we test the necessity of these cues by comparing learning across three conditions; fixed phonology, which contains these cues, varied phonology, which omits them, and shapes, which uses visual shape sequences to assess the generality of statistical processing for these tasks. Participants segmented the sequences and generalized the structure in both auditory conditions, but learning was best when phonological cues were present. Learning was around chance on both tasks for the visual shapes group, indicating statistical processing may critically differ across domains.
  • Galbiati, A., Verga, L., Giora, E., Zucconi, M., & Ferini-Strambi, L. (2019). The risk of neurodegeneration in REM sleep behavior disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 43, 37-46. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2018.09.008.

    Abstract

    Several studies report an association between REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) and neurodegenerative diseases, in particular synucleinopathies. Interestingly, the onset of RBD precedes the development of neurodegeneration by several years. This review and meta-analysis aims to establish the rate of conversion of RBD into neurodegenerative diseases. Longitudinal studies were searched from the PubMed, Web of Science, and SCOPUS databases. Using random-effect modeling, we performed a meta-analysis on the rate of RBD conversions into neurodegeneration. Furthermore, we fitted a Kaplan-Meier analysis and compared the differences between survival curves of different diseases with log-rank tests. The risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases was 33.5% at five years follow-up, 82.4% at 10.5 years and 96.6% at 14 years. The average conversion rate was 31.95% after a mean duration of follow-up of 4.75 ± 2.43 years. The majority of RBD patients converted to Parkinson's Disease (43%), followed by Dementia with Lewy Bodies (25%). The estimated risk for RBD patients to develop a neurodegenerative disease over a long-term follow-up is more than 90%. Future studies should include control group for the evaluation of REM sleep without atonia as marker for neurodegeneration also in non-clinical population and target RBD as precursor of neurodegeneration to develop protective trials.
  • Gao, Y., Zheng, L., Liu, X., Nichols, E. S., Zhang, M., Shang, L., Ding, G., Meng, Z., & Liu, L. (2019). First and second language reading difficulty among Chinese–English bilingual children: The prevalence and influences from demographic characteristics. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 2544. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02544.

    Abstract

    Learning to read a second language (L2) can pose a great challenge for children who have already been struggling to read in their first language (L1). Moreover, it is not clear whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances L1 reading difficulty increases the risk of L2 reading difficulty. This study investigated Chinese (L1) and English (L2) reading skills in a large representative sample of 1,824 Chinese–English bilingual children in Grades 4 and 5 from both urban and rural schools in Beijing. We examined the prevalence of reading difficulty in Chinese only (poor Chinese readers, PC), English only (poor English readers, PE), and both Chinese and English (poor bilingual readers, PB) and calculated the co-occurrence, that is, the chances of becoming a poor reader in English given that the child was already a poor reader in Chinese. We then conducted a multinomial logistic regression analysis and compared the prevalence of PC, PE, and PB between children in Grade 4 versus Grade 5, in urban versus rural areas, and in boys versus girls. Results showed that compared to girls, boys demonstrated significantly higher risk of PC, PE, and PB. Meanwhile, compared to the 5th graders, the 4th graders demonstrated significantly higher risk of PC and PB. In addition, children enrolled in the urban schools were more likely to become better second language readers, thus leading to a concerning rural–urban gap in the prevalence of L2 reading difficulty. Finally, among these Chinese–English bilingual children, regardless of sex and school location, poor reading skill in Chinese significantly increased the risk of also being a poor English reader, with a considerable and stable co-occurrence of approximately 36%. In sum, this study suggests that despite striking differences between alphabetic and logographic writing systems, L1 reading difficulty still significantly increases the risk of L2 reading difficulty. This indicates the shared meta-linguistic skills in reading different writing systems and the importance of understanding the universality and the interdependent relationship of reading between different writing systems. Furthermore, the male disadvantage (in both L1 and L2) and the urban–rural gap (in L2) found in the prevalence of reading difficulty calls for special attention to disadvantaged populations in educational practice.
  • Gao, X., Dera, J., Nijhoff, A. D., & Willems, R. M. (2019). Is less readable liked better? The case of font readability in poetry appreciation. PLoS One, 14(12): e0225757. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0225757.

    Abstract

    Previous research shows conflicting findings for the effect of font readability on comprehension and memory for language. It has been found that—perhaps counterintuitively–a hard to read font can be beneficial for language comprehension, especially for difficult language. Here we test how font readability influences the subjective experience of poetry reading. In three experiments we tested the influence of poem difficulty and font readability on the subjective experience of poems. We specifically predicted that font readability would have opposite effects on the subjective experience of easy versus difficult poems. Participants read poems which could be more or less difficult in terms of conceptual or structural aspects, and which were presented in a font that was either easy or more difficult to read. Participants read existing poems and subsequently rated their subjective experience (measured through four dependent variables: overall liking, perceived flow of the poem, perceived topic clarity, and perceived structure). In line with previous literature we observed a Poem Difficulty x Font Readability interaction effect for subjective measures of poetry reading. We found that participants rated easy poems as nicer when presented in an easy to read font, as compared to when presented in a hard to read font. Despite the presence of the interaction effect, we did not observe the predicted opposite effect for more difficult poems. We conclude that font readability can influence reading of easy and more difficult poems differentially, with strongest effects for easy poems.

    Supplementary material

    https://osf.io/jwcqt/
  • Garcia, R., Roeser, J., & Höhle, B. (2019). Thematic role assignment in the L1 acquisition of Tagalog: Use of word order and morphosyntactic markers. Language Acquisition, 26(3), 235-261. doi:10.1080/10489223.2018.1525613.

    Abstract

    It is a common finding across languages that young children have problems in understanding patient-initial sentences. We used Tagalog, a verb-initial language with a reliable voice-marking system and highly frequent patient voice constructions, to test the predictions of several accounts that have been proposed to explain this difficulty: the frequency account, the Competition Model, and the incremental processing account. Study 1 presents an analysis of Tagalog child-directed speech, which showed that the dominant argument order is agent-before-patient and that morphosyntactic markers are highly valid cues to thematic role assignment. In Study 2, we used a combined self-paced listening and picture verification task to test how Tagalog-speaking adults and 5- and 7-year-old children process reversible transitive sentences. Results showed that adults performed well in all conditions, while children’s accuracy and listening times for the first noun phrase indicated more difficulty in interpreting patient-initial sentences in the agent voice compared to the patient voice. The patient voice advantage is partly explained by both the frequency account and incremental processing account.
  • Gehrig, J., Michalareas, G., Forster, M.-T., Lei, J., Hok, P., Laufs, H., Senft, C., Seifert, V., Schoffelen, J.-M., Hanslmayr, H., & Kell, C. A. (2019). Low-frequency oscillations code speech during verbal working memory. The Journal of Neuroscience, 39(33), 6498-6512. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0018-19.2019.

    Abstract

    The way the human brain represents speech in memory is still unknown. An obvious characteristic of speech is its evolvement over time. During speech processing, neural oscillations are modulated by the temporal properties of the acoustic speech signal, but also acquired knowledge on the temporal structure of language influences speech perception-related brain activity. This suggests that speech could be represented in the temporal domain, a form of representation that the brain also uses to encode autobiographic memories. Empirical evidence for such a memory code is lacking. We investigated the nature of speech memory representations using direct cortical recordings in the left perisylvian cortex during delayed sentence reproduction in female and male patients undergoing awake tumor surgery. Our results reveal that the brain endogenously represents speech in the temporal domain. Temporal pattern similarity analyses revealed that the phase of frontotemporal low-frequency oscillations, primarily in the beta range, represents sentence identity in working memory. The positive relationship between beta power during working memory and task performance suggests that working memory representations benefit from increased phase separation.
  • Gialluisi, A., Andlauer, T. F. M., Mirza-Schreiber, N., Moll, K., Becker, J., Hoffmann, P., Ludwig, K. U., Czamara, D., St Pourcain, B., Brandler, W., Honbolygó, F., Tóth, D., Csépe, V., Huguet, G., Morris, A. P., Hulslander, J., Willcutt, E. G., DeFries, J. C., Olson, R. K., Smith, S. D. and 25 moreGialluisi, A., Andlauer, T. F. M., Mirza-Schreiber, N., Moll, K., Becker, J., Hoffmann, P., Ludwig, K. U., Czamara, D., St Pourcain, B., Brandler, W., Honbolygó, F., Tóth, D., Csépe, V., Huguet, G., Morris, A. P., Hulslander, J., Willcutt, E. G., DeFries, J. C., Olson, R. K., Smith, S. D., Pennington, B. F., Vaessen, A., Maurer, U., Lyytinen, H., Peyrard-Janvid, M., Leppänen, P. H. T., Brandeis, D., Bonte, M., Stein, J. F., Talcott, J. B., Fauchereau, F., Wilcke, A., Francks, C., Bourgeron, T., Monaco, A. P., Ramus, F., Landerl, K., Kere, J., Scerri, T. S., Paracchini, S., Fisher, S. E., Schumacher, J., Nöthen, M. M., Müller-Myhsok, B., & Schulte-Körne, G. (2019). Genome-wide association scan identifies new variants associated with a cognitive predictor of dyslexia. Translational Psychiatry, 9(1): 77. doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0402-0.

    Abstract

    Developmental dyslexia (DD) is one of the most prevalent learning disorders, with high impact on school and psychosocial development and high comorbidity with conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety. DD is characterized by deficits in different cognitive skills, including word reading, spelling, rapid naming, and phonology. To investigate the genetic basis of DD, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of these skills within one of the largest studies available, including nine cohorts of reading-impaired and typically developing children of European ancestry (N = 2562–3468). We observed a genome-wide significant effect (p < 1 × 10−8) on rapid automatized naming of letters (RANlet) for variants on 18q12.2, within MIR924HG (micro-RNA 924 host gene; rs17663182 p = 4.73 × 10−9), and a suggestive association on 8q12.3 within NKAIN3 (encoding a cation transporter; rs16928927, p = 2.25 × 10−8). rs17663182 (18q12.2) also showed genome-wide significant multivariate associations with RAN measures (p = 1.15 × 10−8) and with all the cognitive traits tested (p = 3.07 × 10−8), suggesting (relational) pleiotropic effects of this variant. A polygenic risk score (PRS) analysis revealed significant genetic overlaps of some of the DD-related traits with educational attainment (EDUyears) and ADHD. Reading and spelling abilities were positively associated with EDUyears (p ~ [10−5–10−7]) and negatively associated with ADHD PRS (p ~ [10−8−10−17]). This corroborates a long-standing hypothesis on the partly shared genetic etiology of DD and ADHD, at the genome-wide level. Our findings suggest new candidate DD susceptibility genes and provide new insights into the genetics of dyslexia and its comorbities.
  • Glock, P., Raum, B., Heermann, T., Kretschmer, S., Schweizer, J., Mücksch, J., Alagöz, G., & Schwille, P. (2019). Stationary patterns in a two-protein reaction-diffusion system. ACS Synthetic Biology, 8(1), 148-157. doi:10.1021/acssynbio.8b00415.

    Abstract

    Patterns formed by reaction-diffusion mechanisms are crucial for the development or sustenance of most organisms in nature. Patterns include dynamic waves, but are more often found as static distributions, such as animal skin patterns. Yet, a simplistic biological model system to reproduce and quantitatively investigate static reaction-diffusion patterns has been missing so far. Here, we demonstrate that the Escherichia coli MM system, known for its oscillatory behavior between the cell poles, is under certain conditions capable of transitioning to quasi-stationary protein distributions on membranes closely resembling Turing patterns. We systematically titrated both proteins, MinD and MinE, and found that removing all purification tags and linkers from the N-terminus of MinE was critical for static patterns to occur. At small bulk heights, dynamic patterns dominate, such as in rod-shaped microcompartments. We see implications of this work for studying pattern formation in general, but also for creating artificial gradients as downstream cues in synthetic biology applications.
  • Goldrick, M., Brehm, L., Pyeong Whan, C., & Smolensky, P. (2019). Transient blend states and discrete agreement-driven errors in sentence production. In G. J. Snover, M. Nelson, B. O'Connor, & J. Pater (Eds.), Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL 2019) (pp. 375-376). doi:10.7275/n0b2-5305.
  • Goldrick, M., McClain, R., Cibelli, E., Adi, Y., Gustafson, E., Moers, C., & Keshet, J. (2019). The influence of lexical selection disruptions on articulation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(6), 1107-1141. doi:10.1037/xlm0000633.

    Abstract

    Interactive models of language production predict that it should be possible to observe long-distance interactions; effects that arise at one level of processing influence multiple subsequent stages of representation and processing. We examine the hypothesis that disruptions arising in nonform-based levels of planning—specifically, lexical selection—should modulate articulatory processing. A novel automatic phonetic analysis method was used to examine productions in a paradigm yielding both general disruptions to formulation processes and, more specifically, overt errors during lexical selection. This analysis method allowed us to examine articulatory disruptions at multiple levels of analysis, from whole words to individual segments. Baseline performance by young adults was contrasted with young speakers’ performance under time pressure (which previous work has argued increases interaction between planning and articulation) and performance by older adults (who may have difficulties inhibiting nontarget representations, leading to heightened interactive effects). The results revealed the presence of interactive effects. Our new analysis techniques revealed these effects were strongest in initial portions of responses, suggesting that speech is initiated as soon as the first segment has been planned. Interactive effects did not increase under response pressure, suggesting interaction between planning and articulation is relatively fixed. Unexpectedly, lexical selection disruptions appeared to yield some degree of facilitation in articulatory processing (possibly reflecting semantic facilitation of target retrieval) and older adults showed weaker, not stronger interactive effects (possibly reflecting weakened connections between lexical and form-level representations).
  • Goriot, C., Unsworth, S., Van Hout, R. W. N. M., Broersma, M., & McQueen, J. M. (2019). Differences in phonological awareness performance. Are there positive or negative effects of bilingual experience? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. Advance online publication. doi:10.1075/lab.18082.gor.

    Abstract

    Children who have knowledge of two languages may show better phonological awareness than their monolingual peers (e.g. Bruck & Genesee, 1995). It remains unclear how much bilingual experience is needed for such advantages to appear, and whether differences in language or cognitive skills alter the relation between bilingualism and phonological awareness. These questions were investigated in this cross-sectional study. Participants (n = 294; 4–7 year-olds, in the first three grades of primary school) were Dutch-speaking pupils attending mainstream monolingual Dutch primary schools or early-English schools providing English lessons from grade 1, and simultaneous Dutch-English bilinguals. We investigated phonological awareness (rhyming, phoneme blending, onset phoneme identification, and phoneme deletion) and its relation to age, Dutch vocabulary, English vocabulary, working memory and short-term memory, and the balance between Dutch and English vocabulary. Small significant (α < .05) effects of bilingualism were found on onset phoneme identification and phoneme deletion, but post-hoc comparisons revealed no robust pairwise differences between the groups. Furthermore, effects of bilingualism sometimes disappeared when differences in language or memory skills were taken into account. Learning two languages simultaneously is not beneficial to – and importantly, also not detrimental to – phonological awareness.
  • Goriot, C. (2019). Early-English education works no miracles: Cognitive and linguistic development in mainstream, early-English, and bilingual primary-school pupils in the Netherlands. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Grey, S., Schubel, L. C., McQueen, J. M., & Van Hell, J. G. (2019). Processing foreign-accented speech in a second language: Evidence from ERPs during sentence comprehension in bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 22(5), 912-929. doi:10.1017/S1366728918000937.

    Abstract

    This study examined electrophysiological correlates of sentence comprehension of native-accented and foreign-accented speech in a second language (L2), for sentences produced in a foreign accent different from that associated with the listeners’ L1. Bilingual speaker-listeners process different accents in their L2 conversations, but the effects on real-time L2 sentence comprehension are unknown. Dutch–English bilinguals listened to native American-English accented sentences and foreign (and for them unfamiliarly-accented) Chinese-English accented sentences while EEG was recorded. Behavioral sentence comprehension was highly accurate for both native-accented and foreign-accented sentences. ERPs showed different patterns for L2 grammar and semantic processing of native- and foreign-accented speech. For grammar, only native-accented speech elicited an Nref. For semantics, both native- and foreign-accented speech elicited an N400 effect, but with a delayed onset across both accent conditions. These findings suggest that the way listeners comprehend native- and foreign-accented sentences in their L2 depends on their familiarity with the accent.
  • Grove, J., Ripke, S., Als, T. D., Mattheisen, M., Walters, R., Won, H., Pallesen, J., Agerbo, E., Andreassen, O. A., Anney, R., Belliveau, R., Bettella, F., Buxbaum, J. D., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Bækved-Hansen, M., Cerrato, F., Chambert, K., Christensen, J. H., Churchhouse, C., Dellenvall, K. and 55 moreGrove, J., Ripke, S., Als, T. D., Mattheisen, M., Walters, R., Won, H., Pallesen, J., Agerbo, E., Andreassen, O. A., Anney, R., Belliveau, R., Bettella, F., Buxbaum, J. D., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Bækved-Hansen, M., Cerrato, F., Chambert, K., Christensen, J. H., Churchhouse, C., Dellenvall, K., Demontis, D., De Rubeis, S., Devlin, B., Djurovic, S., Dumont, A., Goldstein, J., Hansen, C. S., Hauberg, M. E., Hollegaard, M. V., Hope, S., Howrigan, D. P., Huang, H., Hultman, C., Klei, L., Maller, J., Martin, J., Martin, A. R., Moran, J., Nyegaard, M., Nærland, T., Palmer, D. S., Palotie, A., Pedersen, C. B., Pedersen, M. G., Poterba, T., Poulsen, J. B., St Pourcain, B., Qvist, P., Rehnström, K., Reichenberg, A., Reichert, J., Robinson, E. B., Roeder, K., Roussos, P., Saemundsen, E., Sandin, S., Satterstrom, F. K., Smith, G. D., Stefansson, H., Stefansson, K., Steinberg, S., Stevens, C., Sullivan, P. F., Turley, P., Walters, G. B., Xu, X., Autism Spectrum Disorders Working Group of The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, BUPGEN, Major Depressive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Me Research Team, Geschwind, D., Nordentoft, M., Hougaard, D. M., Werge, T., Mors, O., Mortensen, P. B., Neale, B. M., Daly, M. J., & Børglum, A. D. (2019). Identification of common genetic risk variants for autism spectrum disorder. Nature Genetics, 51, 431-444. doi:10.1038/s41588-019-0344-8.

    Abstract

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable and heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental phenotypes diagnosed in more than 1% of children. Common genetic variants contribute substantially to ASD susceptibility, but to date no individual variants have been robustly associated with ASD. With a marked sample-size increase from a unique Danish population resource, we report a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 18,381 individuals with ASD and 27,969 controls that identified five genome-wide-significant loci. Leveraging GWAS results from three phenotypes with significantly overlapping genetic architectures (schizophrenia, major depression, and educational attainment), we identified seven additional loci shared with other traits at equally strict significance levels. Dissecting the polygenic architecture, we found both quantitative and qualitative polygenic heterogeneity across ASD subtypes. These results highlight biological insights, particularly relating to neuronal function and corticogenesis, and establish that GWAS performed at scale will be much more productive in the near term in ASD.

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    Supplementary Text and Figures
  • Gunz, P., Tilot, A. K., Wittfeld, K., Teumer, A., Shapland, C. Y., Van Erp, T. G. M., Dannemann, M., Vernot, B., Neubauer, S., Guadalupe, T., Fernandez, G., Brunner, H., Enard, W., Fallon, J., Hosten, N., Völker, U., Profico, A., Di Vincenzo, F., Manzi, G., Kelso, J. and 7 moreGunz, P., Tilot, A. K., Wittfeld, K., Teumer, A., Shapland, C. Y., Van Erp, T. G. M., Dannemann, M., Vernot, B., Neubauer, S., Guadalupe, T., Fernandez, G., Brunner, H., Enard, W., Fallon, J., Hosten, N., Völker, U., Profico, A., Di Vincenzo, F., Manzi, G., Kelso, J., St Pourcain, B., Hublin, J.-J., Franontike, B., Pääbo, S., Macciardi, F., Grabe, H. J., & Fisher, S. E. (2019). Neandertal introgression sheds light on modern human endocranial globularity. Current Biology, 29(1), 120-127. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.10.065.

    Abstract

    One of the features that distinguishes modern humans from our extinct relatives and ancestors is a globular shape of the braincase [1-4]. As the endocranium closely mirrors the outer shape of the brain, these differences might reflect altered neural architecture [4,5]. However, in the absence of fossil brain tissue the underlying neuroanatomical changes as well as their genetic bases remain elusive. To better understand the biological foundations of modern human endocranial shape, we turn to our closest extinct relatives, the Neandertals. Interbreeding between modern humans and Neandertals has resulted in introgressed fragments of Neandertal DNA in the genomes of present-day non- Africans [6,7]. Based on shape analyses of fossil skull endocasts, we derive a measure of endocranial globularity from structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of thousands of modern humans, and study the effects of introgressed fragments of Neandertal DNA on this phenotype. We find that Neandertal alleles on chromosomes 1 and 18 are associated with reduced endocranial globularity. These alleles influence expression of two nearby genes, UBR4 and PHLPP1, which are involved in neurogenesis and myelination, respectively. Our findings show how integration of fossil skull data with archaic genomics and neuroimaging can suggest developmental mechanisms that may contribute to the unique modern human endocranial shape.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.pdf mmc2.xlsx
  • Hagoort, P. (Ed.). (2019). Human language: From genes and brains to behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (2019). The neurobiology of language beyond single word processing. Science, 366(6461), 55-58. doi:10.1126/science.aax0289.

    Abstract

    In this Review, I propose a multiple-network view for the neurobiological basis of distinctly human language skills. A much more complex picture of interacting brain areas emerges than in the classical neurobiological model of language. This is because using language is more than single-word processing, and much goes on beyond the information given in the acoustic or orthographic tokens that enter primary sensory cortices. This requires the involvement of multiple networks with functionally nonoverlapping contributions

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  • Hagoort, P. (2019). Introduction. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brains to behavior (pp. 1-6). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P., & Beckmann, C. F. (2019). Key issues and future directions: The neural architecture for language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brains to behavior (pp. 527-532). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (2019). The meaning making mechanism(s) behind the eyes and between the ears. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20190301. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0301.

    Abstract

    In this contribution, the following four questions are discussed: (i) where is meaning?; (ii) what is meaning?; (iii) what is the meaning of mechanism?; (iv) what are the mechanisms of meaning? I will argue that meanings are in the head. Meanings have multiple facets, but minimally one needs to make a distinction between single word meanings (lexical meaning) and the meanings of multi-word utterances. The latter ones cannot be retrieved from memory, but need to be constructed on the fly. A mechanistic account of the meaning-making mind requires an analysis at both a functional and a neural level, the reason being that these levels are causally interdependent. I will show that an analysis exclusively focusing on patterns of brain activation lacks explanatory power. Finally, I shall present an initial sketch of how the dynamic interaction between temporo-parietal areas and inferior frontal cortex might instantiate the interpretation of linguistic utterances in the context of a multimodal setting and ongoing discourse information.
  • Hahn, L. E., Ten Buuren, M., De Nijs, M., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2019). Acquiring novel words in a second language through mutual play with child songs - The Noplica Energy Center. In L. Nijs, H. Van Regenmortel, & C. Arculus (Eds.), MERYC19 Counterpoints of the senses: Bodily experiences in musical learning (pp. 78-87). Ghent, Belgium: EuNet MERYC 2019.

    Abstract

    Child songs are a great source for linguistic learning. Here we explore whether children can acquire novel words in a second language by playing a game featuring child songs in a playhouse. We present data from three studies that serve as scientific proof for the functionality of one game of the playhouse: the Energy Center. For this game, three hand-bikes were mounted on a panel. When children start moving the hand-bikes, child songs start playing simultaneously. Once the children produce enough energy with the hand-bikes, the songs are additionally accompanied with the sounds of musical instruments. In our studies, children executed a picture-selection task to evaluate whether they acquired new vocabulary from the songs presented during the game. Two of our studies were run in the field, one at a Dutch and one at an Indian pre-school. The third study features data from a more controlled laboratory setting. Our results partly confirm that the Energy Center is a successful means to support vocabulary acquisition in a second language. More research with larger sample sizes and longer access to the Energy Center is needed to evaluate the overall functionality of the game. Based on informal observations at our test sites, however, we are certain that children do pick up linguistic content from the songs during play, as many of the children repeat words and phrases from songs they heard. We will pick up upon these promising observations during future studies
  • Harneit, A., Braun, U., Geiger, L. S., Zang, Z., Hakobjan, M., Van Donkelaar, M. M. J., Schweiger, J. I., Schwarz, K., Gan, G., Erk, S., Heinz, A., Romanczuk‐Seiferth, N., Witt, S., Rietschel, M., Walter, H., Franke, B., Meyer‐Lindenberg, A., & Tost, H. (2019). MAOA-VNTR genotype affects structural and functional connectivity in distributed brain networks. Human Brain Mapping, 40(18), 5202-5212. doi:10.1002/hbm.24766.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have linked the low expression variant of a variable number of tandem repeat polymorphism in the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA‐L) to the risk for impulsivity and aggression, brain developmental abnormalities, altered cortico‐limbic circuit function, and an exaggerated neural serotonergic tone. However, the neurobiological effects of this variant on human brain network architecture are incompletely understood. We studied healthy individuals and used multimodal neuroimaging (sample size range: 219–284 across modalities) and network‐based statistics (NBS) to probe the specificity of MAOA‐L‐related connectomic alterations to cortical‐limbic circuits and the emotion processing domain. We assessed the spatial distribution of affected links across several neuroimaging tasks and data modalities to identify potential alterations in network architecture. Our results revealed a distributed network of node links with a significantly increased connectivity in MAOA‐L carriers compared to the carriers of the high expression (H) variant. The hyperconnectivity phenotype primarily consisted of between‐lobe (“anisocoupled”) network links and showed a pronounced involvement of frontal‐temporal connections. Hyperconnectivity was observed across functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of implicit emotion processing (pFWE = .037), resting‐state fMRI (pFWE = .022), and diffusion tensor imaging (pFWE = .044) data, while no effects were seen in fMRI data of another cognitive domain, that is, spatial working memory (pFWE = .540). These observations are in line with prior research on the MAOA‐L variant and complement these existing data by novel insights into the specificity and spatial distribution of the neurogenetic effects. Our work highlights the value of multimodal network connectomic approaches for imaging genetics.
  • Haworth, S., Shapland, C. Y., Hayward, C., Prins, B. P., Felix, J. F., Medina-Gomez, C., Rivadeneira, F., Wang, C., Ahluwalia, T. S., Vrijheid, M., Guxens, M., Sunyer, J., Tachmazidou, I., Walter, K., Iotchkova, V., Jackson, A., Cleal, L., Huffmann, J., Min, J. L., Sass, L. and 15 moreHaworth, S., Shapland, C. Y., Hayward, C., Prins, B. P., Felix, J. F., Medina-Gomez, C., Rivadeneira, F., Wang, C., Ahluwalia, T. S., Vrijheid, M., Guxens, M., Sunyer, J., Tachmazidou, I., Walter, K., Iotchkova, V., Jackson, A., Cleal, L., Huffmann, J., Min, J. L., Sass, L., Timmers, P. R. H. J., UK10K consortium, Davey Smith, G., Fisher, S. E., Wilson, J. F., Cole, T. J., Fernandez-Orth, D., Bønnelykke, K., Bisgaard, H., Pennell, C. E., Jaddoe, V. W. V., Dedoussis, G., Timpson, N. J., Zeggini, E., Vitart, V., & St Pourcain, B. (2019). Low-frequency variation in TP53 has large effects on head circumference and intracranial volume. Nature Communications, 10: 357. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-07863-x.

    Abstract

    Cranial growth and development is a complex process which affects the closely related traits of head circumference (HC) and intracranial volume (ICV). The underlying genetic influences affecting these traits during the transition from childhood to adulthood are little understood, but might include both age-specific genetic influences and low-frequency genetic variation. To understand these influences, we model the developmental genetic architecture of HC, showing this is genetically stable and correlated with genetic determinants of ICV. Investigating up to 46,000 children and adults of European descent, we identify association with final HC and/or final ICV+HC at 9 novel common and low-frequency loci, illustrating that genetic variation from a wide allele frequency spectrum contributes to cranial growth. The largest effects are reported for low-frequency variants within TP53, with 0.5 cm wider heads in increaser-allele carriers versus non-carriers during mid-childhood, suggesting a previously unrecognized role of TP53 transcripts in human cranial development.

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    Supplementary Information
  • Heilbron, M., Ehinger, B., Hagoort, P., & De Lange, F. P. (2019). Tracking naturalistic linguistic predictions with deep neural language models. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience (pp. 424-427). doi:10.32470/CCN.2019.1096-0.

    Abstract

    Prediction in language has traditionally been studied using simple designs in which neural responses to expected and unexpected words are compared in a categorical fashion. However, these designs have been contested as being ‘prediction encouraging’, potentially exaggerating the importance of prediction in language understanding. A few recent studies have begun to address these worries by using model-based approaches to probe the effects of linguistic predictability in naturalistic stimuli (e.g. continuous narrative). However, these studies so far only looked at very local forms of prediction, using models that take no more than the prior two words into account when computing a word’s predictability. Here, we extend this approach using a state-of-the-art neural language model that can take roughly 500 times longer linguistic contexts into account. Predictability estimates fromthe neural network offer amuch better fit to EEG data from subjects listening to naturalistic narrative than simpler models, and reveal strong surprise responses akin to the P200 and N400. These results show that predictability effects in language are not a side-effect of simple designs, and demonstrate the practical use of recent advances in AI for the cognitive neuroscience of language.
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Kumar, U., Mishra, R. K., Tripathi, V. N., Guleria, A., Singh, J. P., Eisner, F., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read recycles visual cortical networks without destruction. Science Advances, 5(9): eaax0262. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax0262.

    Abstract

    Learning to read is associated with the appearance of an orthographically sensitive brain region known as the visual word form area. It has been claimed that development of this area proceeds by impinging upon territory otherwise available for the processing of culturally relevant stimuli such as faces and houses. In a large-scale functional magnetic resonance imaging study of a group of individuals of varying degrees of literacy (from completely illiterate to highly literate), we examined cortical responses to orthographic and nonorthographic visual stimuli. We found that literacy enhances responses to other visual input in early visual areas and enhances representational similarity between text and faces, without reducing the extent of response to nonorthographic input. Thus, acquisition of literacy in childhood recycles existing object representation mechanisms but without destructive competition.

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    aax0262_SM.pdf
  • Heyselaar, E., & Segaert, K. (2019). Memory encoding of syntactic information involves domain-general attentional resources. Evidence from dual-task studies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(6), 1285-1296. doi:10.1177/1747021818801249.

    Abstract

    We investigate the type of attention (domain-general or language-specific) used during syntactic processing. We focus on syntactic priming: In this task, participants listen to a sentence that describes a picture (prime sentence), followed by a picture the participants need to describe (target sentence). We measure the proportion of times participants use the syntactic structure they heard in the prime sentence to describe the current target sentence as a measure of syntactic processing. Participants simultaneously conducted a motion-object tracking (MOT) task, a task commonly used to tax domain-general attentional resources. We manipulated the number of objects the participant had to track; we thus measured participants’ ability to process syntax while their attention is not-, slightly-, or overly-taxed. Performance in the MOT task was significantly worse when conducted as a dual-task compared to as a single task. We observed an inverted U-shaped curve on priming magnitude when conducting the MOT task concurrently with prime sentences (i.e., memory encoding), but no effect when conducted with target sentences (i.e., memory retrieval). Our results illustrate how, during the encoding of syntactic information, domain-general attention differentially affects syntactic processing, whereas during the retrieval of syntactic information domain-general attention does not influence syntactic processing
  • Hoedemaker, R. S., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Planning and coordination of utterances in a joint naming task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(4), 732-752. doi:10.1037/xlm0000603.

    Abstract

    Dialogue requires speakers to coordinate. According to the model of dialogue as joint action, interlocutors achieve this coordination by corepresenting their own and each other’s task share in a functionally equivalent manner. In two experiments, we investigated this corepresentation account using an interactive joint naming task in which pairs of participants took turns naming sets of objects on a shared display. Speaker A named the first, or the first and third object, and Speaker B named the second object. In control conditions, Speaker A named one, two, or all three objects and Speaker B remained silent. We recorded the timing of the speakers’ utterances and Speaker A’s eye movements. Interturn pause durations indicated that the speakers effectively coordinated their utterances in time. Speaker A’s speech onset latencies depended on the number of objects they named, but were unaffected by Speaker B’s naming task. This suggests speakers were not fully incorporating their partner’s task into their own speech planning. Moreover, Speaker A’s eye movements indicated that they were much less likely to attend to objects their partner named than to objects they named themselves. When speakers did inspect their partner’s objects, viewing times were too short to suggest that speakers were retrieving these object names as if they were planning to name the objects themselves. These results indicate that speakers prioritized planning their own responses over attending to their interlocutor’s task and suggest that effective coordination can be achieved without full corepresentation of the partner’s task.
  • Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Multimodal language processing in human communication. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23(8), 639-652. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.05.006.

    Abstract

    Multiple layers of visual (and vocal) signals, plus their different onsets and offsets, represent a significant semantic and temporal binding problem during face-to-face conversation. Despite this complex unification process, multimodal messages appear to be processed faster than unimodal messages. Multimodal gestalt recognition and multilevel prediction are proposed to play a crucial role in facilitating multimodal language processing. The basis of the processing mechanisms involved in multimodal language comprehension is hypothesized to be domain general, coopted for communication, and refined with domain-specific characteristics. A new, situated framework for understanding human language processing is called for that takes into consideration the multilayered, multimodal nature of language and its production and comprehension in conversational interaction requiring fast processing.
  • Hömke, P. (2019). The face in face-to-face communication: Signals of understanding and non-understanding. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Howe, L. J., Richardson, T. G., Arathimos, R., Alvizi, L., Passos-Bueno, M. R., Stanier, P., Nohr, E., Ludwig, K. U., Mangold, E., Knapp, M., Stergiakouli, E., St Pourcain, B., Smith, G. D., Sandy, J., Relton, C. L., Lewis, S. J., Hemani, G., & Sharp, G. C. (2019). Evidence for DNA methylation mediating genetic liability to non-syndromic cleft lip/palate. Epigenomics, 11(2), 133-145. doi:10.2217/epi-2018-0091.

    Abstract

    Aim: To determine if nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (nsCL/P) genetic risk variants influence liability to nsCL/P through gene regulation pathways, such as those involving DNA methylation. Materials & methods: nsCL/P genetic summary data and methylation data from four studies were used in conjunction with Mendelian randomization and joint likelihood mapping to investigate potential mediation of nsCL/P genetic variants. Results & conclusion: Evidence was found at VAX1 (10q25.3), LOC146880 (17q23.3) and NTN1 (17p13.1), that liability to nsCL/P and variation in DNA methylation might be driven by the same genetic variant, suggesting that genetic variation at these loci may increase liability to nsCL/P by influencing DNA methylation. Follow-up analyses using different tissues and gene expression data provided further insight into possible biological mechanisms.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Howe, L., Lawson, D. J., Davies, N. M., St Pourcain, B., Lewis, S. J., Smith, G. D., & Hemani, G. (2019). Genetic evidence for assortative mating on alcohol consumption in the UK Biobank. Nature Communications, 10: 5039. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12424-x.

    Abstract

    Alcohol use is correlated within spouse-pairs, but it is difficult to disentangle effects of alcohol consumption on mate-selection from social factors or the shared spousal environment. We hypothesised that genetic variants related to alcohol consumption may, via their effect on alcohol behaviour, influence mate selection. Here, we find strong evidence that an individual’s self-reported alcohol consumption and their genotype at rs1229984, a missense variant in ADH1B, are associated with their partner’s self-reported alcohol use. Applying Mendelian randomization, we estimate that a unit increase in an individual’s weekly alcohol consumption increases partner’s alcohol consumption by 0.26 units (95% C.I. 0.15, 0.38; P = 8.20 × 10−6). Furthermore, we find evidence of spousal genotypic concordance for rs1229984, suggesting that spousal concordance for alcohol consumption existed prior to cohabitation. Although the SNP is strongly associated with ancestry, our results suggest some concordance independent of population stratification. Our findings suggest that alcohol behaviour directly influences mate selection.
  • Hubbard, R. J., Rommers, J., Jacobs, C. L., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Downstream behavioral and electrophysiological consequences of word prediction on recognition memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 291. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00291.

    Abstract

    When people process language, they can use context to predict upcoming information, influencing processing and comprehension as seen in both behavioral and neural measures. Although numerous studies have shown immediate facilitative effects of confirmed predictions, the downstream consequences of prediction have been less explored. In the current study, we examined those consequences by probing participants’ recognition memory for words after they read sets of sentences. Participants read strongly and weakly constraining sentences with expected or unexpected endings (“I added my name to the list/basket”), and later were tested on their memory for the sentence endings while EEG was recorded. Critically, the memory test contained words that were predictable (“list”) but were never read (participants saw “basket”). Behaviorally, participants showed successful discrimination between old and new items, but false alarmed to the expected-item lures more often than to new items, showing that predicted words or concepts can linger, even when predictions are disconfirmed. Although false alarm rates did not differ by constraint, event-related potentials (ERPs) differed between false alarms to strongly and weakly predictable words. Additionally, previously unexpected (compared to previously expected) endings that appeared on the memory test elicited larger N1 and LPC amplitudes, suggesting greater attention and episodic recollection. In contrast, highly predictable sentence endings that had been read elicited reduced LPC amplitudes during the memory test. Thus, prediction can facilitate processing in the moment, but can also lead to false memory and reduced recollection for predictable information.
  • Huettig, F., & Guerra, E. (2019). Effects of speech rate, preview time of visual context, and participant instructions reveal strong limits on prediction in language processing. Brain Research, 1706, 196-208. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.11.013.

    Abstract

    There is a consensus among language researchers that people can predict upcoming language. But do people always predict when comprehending language? Notions that “brains … are essentially prediction machines” certainly suggest so. In three eye-tracking experiments we tested this view. Participants listened to simple Dutch sentences (‘Look at the displayed bicycle’) while viewing four objects (a target, e.g. a bicycle, and three unrelated distractors). We used the identical visual stimuli and the same spoken sentences but varied speech rates, preview time, and participant instructions. Target nouns were preceded by definite gender-marked determiners, which allowed participants to predict the target object because only the targets but not the distractors agreed in gender with the determiner. In Experiment 1, participants had four seconds preview and sentences were presented either in a slow or a normal speech rate. Participants predicted the targets as soon as they heard the determiner in both conditions. Experiment 2 was identical except that participants were given only a one second preview. Participants predicted the targets only in the slow speech condition. Experiment 3 was identical to Experiment 2 except that participants were explicitly told to predict. This led only to a small prediction effect in the normal speech condition. Thus, a normal speech rate only afforded prediction if participants had an extensive preview. Even the explicit instruction to predict the target resulted in only a small anticipation effect with a normal speech rate and a short preview. These findings are problematic for theoretical proposals that assume that prediction pervades cognition.

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