Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 100
  • Bakker-Marshall, I., Takashima, A., Fernandez, C. B., Janzen, G., McQueen, J. M., & Van Hell, J. G. (2021). Overlapping and distinct neural networks supporting novel word learning in bilinguals and monolinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(3), 524-536. doi:10.1017/S1366728920000589.

    Abstract

    This study investigated how bilingual experience alters neural mechanisms supporting novel word learning. We hypothesised that novel words elicit increased semantic activation in the larger bilingual lexicon, potentially stimulating stronger memory integration than in monolinguals. English monolinguals and Spanish–English bilinguals were trained on two sets of written Swahili–English word pairs, one set on each of two consecutive days, and performed a recognition task in the MRI-scanner. Lexical integration was measured through visual primed lexical decision. Surprisingly, no group difference emerged in explicit word memory, and priming occurred only in the monolingual group. This difference in lexical integration may indicate an increased need for slow neocortical interleaving of old and new information in the denser bilingual lexicon. The fMRI data were consistent with increased use of cognitive control networks in monolinguals and of articulatory motor processes in bilinguals, providing further evidence for experience-induced neural changes: monolinguals and bilinguals reached largely comparable behavioural performance levels in novel word learning, but did so by recruiting partially overlapping but non-identical neural systems to acquire novel words.
  • Barlas, P., Kyriakou, K., Guest, O., Kleanthous, S., & Otterbacher, J. (2021). To "see" is to stereotype: Image tagging algorithms, gender recognition, and the accuracy-fairness trade-off. Proceedings of the ACM on Human Computer Interaction, 4(CSCW3): 32. doi:10.1145/3432931.

    Abstract

    Machine-learned computer vision algorithms for tagging images are increasingly used by developers and researchers, having become popularized as easy-to-use "cognitive services." Yet these tools struggle with gender recognition, particularly when processing images of women, people of color and non-binary individuals. Socio-technical researchers have cited data bias as a key problem; training datasets often over-represent images of people and contexts that convey social stereotypes. The social psychology literature explains that people learn social stereotypes, in part, by observing others in particular roles and contexts, and can inadvertently learn to associate gender with scenes, occupations and activities. Thus, we study the extent to which image tagging algorithms mimic this phenomenon. We design a controlled experiment, to examine the interdependence between algorithmic recognition of context and the depicted person's gender. In the spirit of auditing to understand machine behaviors, we create a highly controlled dataset of people images, imposed on gender-stereotyped backgrounds. Our methodology is reproducible and our code publicly available. Evaluating five proprietary algorithms, we find that in three, gender inference is hindered when a background is introduced. Of the two that "see" both backgrounds and gender, it is the one whose output is most consistent with human stereotyping processes that is superior in recognizing gender. We discuss the accuracy--fairness trade-off, as well as the importance of auditing black boxes in better understanding this double-edged sword.
  • Bartolozzi, F., Jongman, S. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Concurrent speech planning does not eliminate repetition priming from spoken words: Evidence from linguistic dual-tasking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(3), 466-480. doi:10.1037/xlm0000944.

    Abstract

    In conversation, production and comprehension processes may overlap, causing interference. In 3 experiments, we investigated whether repetition priming can work as a supporting device, reducing costs associated with linguistic dual-tasking. Experiment 1 established the rate of decay of repetition priming from spoken words to picture naming for primes embedded in sentences. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated whether the rate of decay was faster when participants comprehended the prime while planning to name unrelated pictures. In all experiments, the primed picture followed the sentences featuring the prime on the same trial, or 10 or 50 trials later. The results of the 3 experiments were strikingly similar: robust repetition priming was observed when the primed picture followed the prime sentence. Thus, repetition priming was observed even when the primes were processed while the participants prepared an unrelated spoken utterance. Priming might, therefore, support utterance planning in conversation, where speakers routinely listen while planning their utterances.

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    supplemental material
  • Birhane, A., & Guest, O. (2021). Towards decolonising computational sciences. Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, 29(2), 60-73. doi:10.7146/kkf.v29i2.124899.

    Abstract

    This article sets out our perspective on how to begin the journey of decolonising computational fi elds, such as data and cognitive sciences. We see this struggle as requiring two basic steps: a) realisation that the present-day system has inherited, and still enacts, hostile, conservative, and oppressive behaviours and principles towards women of colour; and b) rejection of the idea that centring individual people is a solution to system-level problems. The longer we ignore these two steps, the more “our” academic system maintains its toxic structure, excludes, and harms Black women and other minoritised groups. This also keeps the door open to discredited pseudoscience, like eugenics and physiognomy. We propose that grappling with our fi elds’ histories and heritage holds the key to avoiding mistakes of the past. In contrast to, for example, initiatives such as “diversity boards”, which can be harmful because they superfi cially appear reformatory but nonetheless center whiteness and maintain the status quo. Building on the work of many women of colour, we hope to advance the dialogue required to build both a grass-roots and a top-down re-imagining of computational sciences — including but not limited to psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, data science, statistics, machine learning, and artifi cial intelligence. We aspire to progress away from these fi elds’ stagnant, sexist, and racist shared past into an ecosystem that welcomes and nurtures demographically diverse researchers and ideas that critically challenge the status quo.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Peeters, D. (2021). Beat gestures influence which speech sounds you hear. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288: 20202419. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2419.

    Abstract

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

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    example stimuli and experimental data
  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). Using fuzzy string matching for automated assessment of listener transcripts in speech intelligibility studies. Behavior Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13428-021-01542-4.

    Abstract

    Many studies of speech perception assess the intelligibility of spoken sentence stimuli by means of transcription tasks (‘type out what you hear’). The intelligibility of a given stimulus is then often expressed in terms of percentage of words correctly reported from the target sentence. Yet scoring the participants’ raw responses for words correctly identified from the target sentence is a time- consuming task, and hence resource-intensive. Moreover, there is no consensus among speech scientists about what specific protocol to use for the human scoring, limiting the reliability of human scores. The present paper evaluates various forms of fuzzy string matching between participants’ responses and target sentences, as automated metrics of listener transcript accuracy. We demonstrate that one particular metric, the Token Sort Ratio, is a consistent, highly efficient, and accurate metric for automated assessment of listener transcripts, as evidenced by high correlations with human-generated scores (best correlation: r = 0.940) and a strong relationship to acoustic markers of speech intelligibility. Thus, fuzzy string matching provides a practical tool for assessment of listener transcript accuracy in large-scale speech intelligibility studies. See https://tokensortratio.netlify.app for an online implementation.
  • Brehm, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Planning when to say: Dissociating cue use in utterance initiation using cross-validation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xge0001012.

    Abstract

    In conversation, turns follow each other with minimal gaps. To achieve this, speakers must launch their utterances shortly before the predicted end of the partner’s turn. We examined the relative importance of cues to partner utterance content and partner utterance length for launching coordinated speech. In three experiments, Dutch adult participants had to produce prepared utterances (e.g., vier, “four”) immediately after a recording of a confederate’s utterance (zeven, “seven”). To assess the role of corepresenting content versus attending to speech cues in launching coordinated utterances, we varied whether the participant could see the stimulus being named by the confederate, the confederate prompt’s length, and whether within a block of trials, the confederate prompt’s length was predictable. We measured how these factors affected the gap between turns and the participants’ allocation of visual attention while preparing to speak. Using a machine-learning technique, model selection by k-fold cross-validation, we found that gaps were most strongly predicted by cues from the confederate speech signal, though some benefit was also conferred by seeing the confederate’s stimulus. This shows that, at least in a simple laboratory task, speakers rely more on cues in the partner’s speech than corepresentation of their utterance content.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2021). Probabilistic online processing of sentence anomalies. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1900579.

    Abstract

    Listeners can successfully interpret the intended meaning of an utterance even when it contains errors or other unexpected anomalies. The present work combines an online measure of attention to sentence referents (visual world eye-tracking) with offline judgments of sentence meaning to disclose how the interpretation of anomalous sentences unfolds over time in order to explore mechanisms of non-literal processing. We use a metalinguistic judgment in Experiment 1 and an elicited imitation task in Experiment 2. In both experiments, we focus on one morphosyntactic anomaly (Subject-verb agreement; The key to the cabinets literally *were … ) and one semantic anomaly (Without; Lulu went to the gym without her hat ?off) and show that non-literal referents to each are considered upon hearing the anomalous region of the sentence. This shows that listeners understand anomalies by overwriting or adding to an initial interpretation and that this occurs incrementally and adaptively as the sentence unfolds.
  • Byers-Heinlein, K., Tsui, A. S. M., Bergmann, C., Black, A. K., Brown, A., Carbajal, M. J., Durrant, S., Fennell, C. T., Fiévet, A.-C., Frank, M. C., Gampe, A., Gervain, J., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Hamlin, J. K., Havron, N., Hernik, M., Kerr, S., Killam, H., Klassen, K., Kosie, J. and 18 moreByers-Heinlein, K., Tsui, A. S. M., Bergmann, C., Black, A. K., Brown, A., Carbajal, M. J., Durrant, S., Fennell, C. T., Fiévet, A.-C., Frank, M. C., Gampe, A., Gervain, J., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Hamlin, J. K., Havron, N., Hernik, M., Kerr, S., Killam, H., Klassen, K., Kosie, J., Kovács, Á. M., Lew-Williams, C., Liu, L., Mani, N., Marino, C., Mastroberardino, M., Mateu, V., Noble, C., Orena, A. J., Polka, L., Potter, C. E., Schreiner, M., Singh, L., Soderstrom, M., Sundara, M., Waddell, C., Werker, J. F., & Wermelinger, S. (2021). A multilab study of bilingual infants: Exploring the preference for infant-directed speech. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 4(1), 1-30. doi:10.1177/2515245920974622.

    Abstract

    From the earliest months of life, infants prefer listening to and learn better from infant-directed speech (IDS) than adult-directed speech (ADS). Yet, IDS differs within communities, across languages, and across cultures, both in form and in prevalence. This large-scale, multi-site study used the diversity of bilingual infant experiences to explore the impact of different types of linguistic experience on infants’ IDS preference. As part of the multi-lab ManyBabies project, we compared lab-matched samples of 333 bilingual and 385 monolingual infants’ preference for North-American English IDS (cf. ManyBabies Consortium, in press (MB1)), tested in 17 labs in 7 countries. Those infants were tested in two age groups: 6–9 months (the younger sample) and 12–15 months (the older sample). We found that bilingual and monolingual infants both preferred IDS to ADS, and did not differ in terms of the overall magnitude of this preference. However, amongst bilingual infants who were acquiring North-American English (NAE) as a native language, greater exposure to NAE was associated with a stronger IDS preference, extending the previous finding from MB1 that monolinguals learning NAE as a native language showed a stronger preference than infants unexposed to NAE. Together, our findings indicate that IDS preference likely makes a similar contribution to monolingual and bilingual development, and that infants are exquisitely sensitive to the nature and frequency of different types of language input in their early environments.
  • Carota, F., Nili, H., Pulvermüller, F., & Kriegeskorte, N. (2021). Distinct fronto-temporal substrates of distributional and taxonomic similarity among words: Evidence from RSA of BOLD signals. NeuroImage, 224: 117408. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117408.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    data sheet
  • Creemers, A., & Embick, D. (2021). Retrieving stem meanings in opaque words during auditory lexical processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1909085.

    Abstract

    Recent constituent priming experiments show that Dutch and German prefixed verbs prime their stem, regardless of semantic transparency (e.g. Smolka et al. [(2014). ‘Verstehen’ (‘understand’) primes ‘stehen’ (‘stand’): Morphological structure overrides semantic compositionality in the lexical representation of German complex verbs. Journal of Memory and Language, 72, 16–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2013.12.002]). We examine whether the processing of opaque verbs (e.g. herhalen “repeat”) involves the retrieval of only the whole-word meaning, or whether the lexical-semantic meaning of the stem (halen as “take/get”) is retrieved as well. We report the results of an auditory semantic priming experiment with Dutch prefixed verbs, testing whether the recognition of a semantic associate to the stem (BRENGEN “bring”) is facilitated by the presentation of an opaque prefixed verb. In contrast to prior visual studies, significant facilitation after semantically opaque primes is found, which suggests that the lexical-semantic meaning of stems in opaque words is retrieved. We examine the implications that these findings have for auditory word recognition, and for the way in which different types of meanings are represented and processed.

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    supplemental material
  • Cristia, A., Lavechin, M., Scaff, C., Soderstrom, M., Rowland, C. F., Räsänen, O., Bunce, J., & Bergelson, E. (2021). A thorough evaluation of the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 467-486. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01393-5.

    Abstract

    In the previous decade, dozens of studies involving thousands of children across several research disciplines have made use of a combined daylong audio-recorder and automated algorithmic analysis called the LENAⓇ system, which aims to assess children’s language environment. While the system’s prevalence in the language acquisition domain is steadily growing, there are only scattered validation efforts on only some of its key characteristics. Here, we assess the LENAⓇ system’s accuracy across all of its key measures: speaker classification, Child Vocalization Counts (CVC), Conversational Turn Counts (CTC), and Adult Word Counts (AWC). Our assessment is based on manual annotation of clips that have been randomly or periodically sampled out of daylong recordings, collected from (a) populations similar to the system’s original training data (North American English-learning children aged 3-36 months), (b) children learning another dialect of English (UK), and (c) slightly older children growing up in a different linguistic and socio-cultural setting (Tsimane’ learners in rural Bolivia). We find reasonably high accuracy in some measures (AWC, CVC), with more problematic levels of performance in others (CTC, precision of male adults and other children). Statistical analyses do not support the view that performance is worse for children who are dissimilar from the LENAⓇ original training set. Whether LENAⓇ results are accurate enough for a given research, educational, or clinical application depends largely on the specifics at hand. We therefore conclude with a set of recommendations to help researchers make this determination for their goals.
  • Cuellar-Partida, G., Tung, J. Y., Eriksson, N., Albrecht, E., Aliev, F., Andreassen, O. A., Barroso, I., Beckmann, J. S., Boks, M. P., Boomsma, D. I., Boyd, H. A., Breteler, M. M. B., Campbell, H., Chasman, D. I., Cherkas, L. F., Davies, G., De Geus, E. J. C., Deary, I. J., Deloukas, P., Dick, D. M. and 98 moreCuellar-Partida, G., Tung, J. Y., Eriksson, N., Albrecht, E., Aliev, F., Andreassen, O. A., Barroso, I., Beckmann, J. S., Boks, M. P., Boomsma, D. I., Boyd, H. A., Breteler, M. M. B., Campbell, H., Chasman, D. I., Cherkas, L. F., Davies, G., De Geus, E. J. C., Deary, I. J., Deloukas, P., Dick, D. M., Duffy, D. L., Eriksson, J. G., Esko, T., Feenstra, B., Geller, F., Gieger, C., Giegling, I., Gordon, S. D., Han, J., Hansen, T. F., Hartmann, A. M., Hayward, C., Heikkilä, K., Hicks, A. A., Hirschhorn, J. N., Hottenga, J.-J., Huffman, J. E., Hwang, L.-D., Ikram, M. A., Kaprio, J., Kemp, J. P., Khaw, K.-T., Klopp, N., Konte, B., Kutalik, Z., Lahti, J., Li, X., Loos, R. J. F., Luciano, M., Magnusson, S. H., Mangino, M., Marques-Vidal, P., Martin, N. G., McArdle, W. L., McCarthy, M. I., Medina-Gomez, C., Melbye, M., Melville, S. A., Metspalu, A., Milani, L., Mooser, V., Nelis, M., Nyholt, D. R., O'Connell, K. S., Ophoff, R. A., Palmer, C., Palotie, A., Palviainen, T., Pare, G., Paternoster, L., Peltonen, L., Penninx, B. W. J. H., Polasek, O., Pramstaller, P. P., Prokopenko, I., Raikkonen, K., Ripatti, S., Rivadeneira, F., Rudan, I., Rujescu, D., Smit, J. H., Smith, G. D., Smoller, J. W., Soranzo, N., Spector, T. D., St Pourcain, B., Starr, J. M., Stefánsson, H., Steinberg, S., Teder-Laving, M., Thorleifsson, G., Stefansson, K., Timpson, N. J., Uitterlinden, A. G., Van Duijn, C. M., Van Rooij, F. J. A., Vink, J. M., Vollenweider, P., Vuoksimaa, E., Waeber, G., Wareham, N. J., Warrington, N., Waterworth, D., Werge, T., Wichmann, H.-E., Widen, E., Willemsen, G., Wright, A. F., Wright, M. J., Xu, M., Zhao, J. H., Kraft, P., Hinds, D. A., Lindgren, C. M., Magi, R., Neale, B. M., Evans, D. M., & Medland, S. E. (2021). Genome-wide association study identifies 48 common genetic variants associated with handedness. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 59-70. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-00956-y.

    Abstract

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

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  • Cychosz, M., Cristia, A., Bergelson, E., Casillas, M., Baudet, G., Warlaumont, A. S., Scaff, C., Yankowitz, L., & Seidl, A. (2021). Vocal development in a large‐scale crosslinguistic corpus. Developmental Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/desc.13090.

    Abstract

    This study evaluates whether early vocalizations develop in similar ways in children across diverse cultural contexts. We analyze data from daylong audio recordings of 49 children (1–36 months) from five different language/cultural backgrounds. Citizen scientists annotated these recordings to determine if child vocalizations contained canonical transitions or not (e.g., “ba” vs. “ee”). Results revealed that the proportion of clips reported to contain canonical transitions increased with age. Furthermore, this proportion exceeded 0.15 by around 7 months, replicating and extending previous findings on canonical vocalization development but using data from the natural environments of a culturally and linguistically diverse sample. This work explores how crowdsourcing can be used to annotate corpora, helping establish developmental milestones relevant to multiple languages and cultures. Lower inter‐annotator reliability on the crowdsourcing platform, relative to more traditional in‐lab expert annotators, means that a larger number of unique annotators and/or annotations are required, and that crowdsourcing may not be a suitable method for more fine‐grained annotation decisions. Audio clips used for this project are compiled into a large‐scale infant vocalization corpus that is available for other researchers to use in future work.

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    During communication in real-life settings, the brain integrates information from auditory and visual modalities to form a unified percept of our environment. In the current magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we used rapid invisible frequency tagging (RIFT) to generate steady-state evoked fields and investigated the integration of audiovisual information in a semantic context. We presented participants with videos of an actress uttering action verbs (auditory; tagged at 61 Hz) accompanied by a gesture (visual; tagged at 68 Hz, using a projector with a 1440 Hz refresh rate). Integration ease was manipulated by auditory factors (clear/degraded speech) and visual factors (congruent/incongruent gesture). We identified MEG spectral peaks at the individual (61/68 Hz) tagging frequencies. We furthermore observed a peak at the intermodulation frequency of the auditory and visually tagged signals (fvisual – fauditory = 7 Hz), specifically when integration was easiest (i.e., when speech was clear and accompanied by a congruent gesture). This intermodulation peak is a signature of nonlinear audiovisual integration, and was strongest in left inferior frontal gyrus and left temporal regions; areas known to be involved in speech-gesture integration. The enhanced power at the intermodulation frequency thus reflects the ease of integration and demonstrates that speech-gesture information interacts in higher-order language areas. Furthermore, we provide a proof-of-principle of the use of RIFT to study the integration of audiovisual stimuli, in relation to, for instance, semantic context.
  • Duprez, J., Stokkermans, M., Drijvers, L., & Cohen, M. X. (2021). Synchronization between keyboard typing and neural oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33(5), 887-901. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01692.

    Abstract

    Rhythmic neural activity synchronizes with certain rhythmic behaviors, such as breathing, sniffing, saccades, and speech. The extent to which neural oscillations synchronize with higher-level and more complex behaviors is largely unknown. Here we investigated electrophysiological synchronization with keyboard typing, which is an omnipresent behavior daily engaged by an uncountably large number of people. Keyboard typing is rhythmic with frequency characteristics roughly the same as neural oscillatory dynamics associated with cognitive control, notably through midfrontal theta (4 -7 Hz) oscillations. We tested the hypothesis that synchronization occurs between typing and midfrontal theta, and breaks down when errors are committed. Thirty healthy participants typed words and sentences on a keyboard without visual feedback, while EEG was recorded. Typing rhythmicity was investigated by inter-keystroke interval analyses and by a kernel density estimation method. We used a multivariate spatial filtering technique to investigate frequency-specific synchronization between typing and neuronal oscillations. Our results demonstrate theta rhythmicity in typing (around 6.5 Hz) through the two different behavioral analyses. Synchronization between typing and neuronal oscillations occurred at frequencies ranging from 4 to 15 Hz, but to a larger extent for lower frequencies. However, peak synchronization frequency was idiosyncratic across subjects, therefore not specific to theta nor to midfrontal regions, and correlated somewhat with peak typing frequency. Errors and trials associated with stronger cognitive control were not associated with changes in synchronization at any frequency. As a whole, this study shows that brain-behavior synchronization does occur during keyboard typing but is not specific to midfrontal theta.
  • Durrant, S., Jessop, A., Chang, F., Bidgood, A., Peter, M. S., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). Does the understanding of complex dynamic events at 10 months predict vocabulary development? Language and Cognition, 13(1), 66-98. doi:10.1017/langcog.2020.26.

    Abstract

    By the end of their first year, infants can interpret many different types of complex dynamic visual events, such as caused-motion, chasing, and goal-directed action. Infants of this age are also in the early stages of vocabulary development, producing their first words at around 12 months. The present work examined whether there are meaningful individual differences in infants’ ability to represent dynamic causal events in visual scenes, and whether these differences influence vocabulary development. As part of the longitudinal Language 0–5 Project, 78 10-month-old infants were tested on their ability to interpret three dynamic motion events, involving (a) caused-motion, (b) chasing behaviour, and (c) goal-directed movement. Planned analyses found that infants showed evidence of understanding the first two event types, but not the third. Looking behaviour in each task was not meaningfully related to vocabulary development, nor were there any correlations between the tasks. The results of additional exploratory analyses and simulations suggested that the infants’ understanding of each event may not be predictive of their vocabulary development, and that looking times in these tasks may not be reliably capturing any meaningful individual differences in their knowledge. This raises questions about how to convert experimental group designs to individual differences measures, and how to interpret infant looking time behaviour.
  • Eekhof, L. S., Kuijpers, M. M., Faber, M., Gao, X., Mak, M., Van den Hoven, E., & Willems, R. M. (2021). Lost in a story, detached from the words. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2020.1857619.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

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

    Abstract

    Some theorists posit the existence of a ‘core’ grammar that virtually all native speakers acquire, and a ‘peripheral’ grammar that many do not. We investigated the viability of such a categorical distinction in the Dutch language. We first consulted linguists’ intuitions as to the ‘core’ or ‘peripheral’ status of a wide range of grammatical structures. We then tested a selection of core- and peripheral-rated structures on naïve participants with varying levels of literacy experience, using grammaticality judgment as a proxy for receptive knowledge. Overall, participants demonstrated better knowledge of ‘core’ structures than ‘peripheral’ structures, but the considerable variability within these categories was strongly suggestive of a continuum rather than a categorical distinction between them. We also hypothesised that individual differences in the knowledge of core and peripheral structures would reflect participants’ literacy experience. This was supported only by a small trend in our data. The results fit best with the notion that more frequent syntactic structures are mastered by more people than infrequent ones and challenge the received sense of a categorical core-periphery distinction.
  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Long-term written language experience affects grammaticality judgments and usage but not priming of spoken sentences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/17470218211005228.

    Abstract

    ‘Book language’ offers a richer linguistic experience than typical conversational speech in terms of its syntactic properties. Here, we investigated the role of long-term syntactic experience on syntactic knowledge and processing. In a pre-registered study with 161 adult native Dutch speakers with varying levels of literacy, we assessed the contribution of individual differences in written language experience to offline and online syntactic processes. Offline syntactic knowledge was assessed as accuracy in an auditory grammaticality judgment task in which we tested violations of four Dutch grammatical norms. Online syntactic processing was indexed by syntactic priming of the Dutch dative alternation, using a comprehension-to-production priming paradigm with auditory presentation. Controlling for the contribution of non-verbal IQ, verbal working memory, and processing speed, we observed a robust effect of literacy experience on the detection of grammatical norm violations in spoken sentences, suggesting that exposure to the syntactic complexity and diversity of written language has specific benefits for general (modality-independent) syntactic knowledge. We replicated previous results by finding robust comprehension-to-production structural priming, both with and without lexical overlap between prime and target. Although literacy experience affected the usage of syntactic alternates in our large sample, it did not modulate their priming. We conclude that amount of experience with written language increases explicit awareness of grammatical norm violations and changes the usage of (PO vs. DO) dative spoken sentences but has no detectable effect on their implicit syntactic priming in proficient language users. These findings constrain theories about the effect of long-term experience on syntactic processing.
  • Fernandes, T., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). The role of the written script in shaping mirror-image discrimination: Evidence from illiterate, Tamil literate, and Tamil-Latin-alphabet bi-literate adults. Cognition, 206: 104493. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104493.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Delineating the association of age and cortical thickness in healthy individuals is critical given the association of cortical thickness with cognition and behavior. Previous research has shown that robust estimates of the association between age and brain morphometry require large‐scale studies. In response, we used cross‐sectional data from 17,075 individuals aged 3–90 years from the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to infer age‐related changes in cortical thickness. We used fractional polynomial (FP) regression to quantify the association between age and cortical thickness, and we computed normalized growth centiles using the parametric Lambda, Mu, and Sigma method. Interindividual variability was estimated using meta‐analysis and one‐way analysis of variance. For most regions, their highest cortical thickness value was observed in childhood. Age and cortical thickness showed a negative association; the slope was steeper up to the third decade of life and more gradual thereafter; notable exceptions to this general pattern were entorhinal, temporopolar, and anterior cingulate cortices. Interindividual variability was largest in temporal and frontal regions across the lifespan. Age and its FP combinations explained up to 59% variance in cortical thickness. These results may form the basis of further investigation on normative deviation in cortical thickness and its significance for behavioral and cognitive outcomes.
  • Goriot, C., Van Hout, R., Broersma, M., Lobo, V., McQueen, J. M., & Unsworth, S. (2021). Using the peabody picture vocabulary test in L2 children and adolescents: Effects of L1. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 24(4), 546-568. doi:10.1080/13670050.2018.1494131.

    Abstract

    This study investigated to what extent the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) is a reliable tool for measuring vocabulary knowledge of English as a second language (L2), and to what extent L1 characteristics affect test outcomes. The PPVT-4 was administered to Dutch pupils in six different age groups (4-15 years old) who were or were not following an English educational programme at school. Our first finding was that the PPVT-4 was not a reliable measure for pupils who were correct on maximally 24 items, but it was reliable for pupils who performed better. Second, both primary-school and secondary-school pupils performed better on items for which the phonological similarity between the English word and its Dutch translation was higher. Third, young unexperienced L2 learners’ scores were predicted by Dutch lexical frequency, while older more experienced pupils’ scores were predicted by English frequency. These findings indicate that the PPVT may be inappropriate for use with L2 learners with limited L2 proficiency. Furthermore, comparisons of PPVT scores across learners with different L1s are confounded by effects of L1 frequency and L1-L2 similarity. The PPVT-4 is however a suitable measure to compare more proficient L2 learners who have the same L1.
  • Goriot, C., Unsworth, S., Van Hout, R. W. N. M., Broersma, M., & McQueen, J. M. (2021). Differences in phonological awareness performance. Are there positive or negative effects of bilingual experience? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 11(3), 425-460. 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.
  • Guadalupe, T., Kong, X., Akkermans, S. E. A., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2021). Relations between hemispheric asymmetries of grey matter and auditory processing of spoken syllables in 281 healthy adults. Brain Structure & Function. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s00429-021-02220-z.

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

    Psychology endeavors to develop theories of human capacities and behaviors on the basis of a variety of methodologies and dependent measures. We argue that one of the most divisive factors in psychological science is whether researchers choose to use computational modeling of theories (over and above data) during the scientific-inference process. Modeling is undervalued yet holds promise for advancing psychological science. The inherent demands of computational modeling guide us toward better science by forcing us to conceptually analyze, specify, and formalize intuitions that otherwise remain unexamined—what we dub open theory. Constraining our inference process through modeling enables us to build explanatory and predictive theories. Here, we present scientific inference in psychology as a path function in which each step shapes the next. Computational modeling can constrain these steps, thus advancing scientific inference over and above the stewardship of experimental practice (e.g., preregistration). If psychology continues to eschew computational modeling, we predict more replicability crises and persistent failure at coherent theory building. This is because without formal modeling we lack open and transparent theorizing. We also explain how to formalize, specify, and implement a computational model, emphasizing that the advantages of modeling can be achieved by anyone with benefit to all.
  • Heyselaar, E., Peeters, D., & Hagoort, P. (2021). Do we predict upcoming speech content in naturalistic environments? Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(4), 440-461. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1859568.

    Abstract

    The ability to predict upcoming actions is a hallmark of cognition. It remains unclear, however, whether the predictive behaviour observed in controlled lab environments generalises to rich, everyday settings. In four virtual reality experiments, we tested whether a well-established marker of linguistic prediction (anticipatory eye movements) replicated when increasing the naturalness of the paradigm by means of immersing participants in naturalistic scenes (Experiment 1), increasing the number of distractor objects (Experiment 2), modifying the proportion of predictable noun-referents (Experiment 3), and manipulating the location of referents relative to the joint attentional space (Experiment 4). Robust anticipatory eye movements were observed for Experiments 1–3. The anticipatory effect disappeared, however, in Experiment 4. Our findings suggest that predictive processing occurs in everyday communication if the referents are situated in the joint attentional space. Methodologically, our study confirms that ecological validity and experimental control may go hand-in-hand in the study of human predictive behaviour.
  • Hoey, E., Hömke, P., Löfgren, E., Neumann, T., Schuerman, W. L., & Kendrick, K. H. (2021). Using expletive insertion to pursue and sanction in interaction. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 25(1), 3-25. doi:10.1111/josl.12439.

    Abstract

    This article uses conversation analysis to examine constructions like who the fuck is that—sequence‐initiating actions into which an expletive like the fuck has been inserted. We describe how this turn‐constructional practice fits into and constitutes a recurrent sequence of escalating actions. In this sequence, it is used to pursue an adequate response after an inadequate one was given, and sanction the recipient for that inadequate response. Our analysis contributes to sociolinguistic studies of swearing by offering an account of swearing as a resource for social action.
  • Humphries, S., Holler*, J., Crawford, T., & Poliakoff*, E. (2021). Cospeech gestures are a window into the effects of Parkinson’s disease on action representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xge0001002.

    Abstract

    -* indicates joint senior authors - Parkinson’s disease impairs motor function and cognition, which together affect language and communication. Co-speech gestures are a form of language-related actions that provide imagistic depictions of the speech content they accompany. Gestures rely on visual and motor imagery, but it is unknown whether gesture representations require the involvement of intact neural sensory and motor systems. We tested this hypothesis with a fine-grained analysis of co-speech action gestures in Parkinson’s disease. 37 people with Parkinson’s disease and 33 controls described two scenes featuring actions which varied in their inherent degree of bodily motion. In addition to the perspective of action gestures (gestural viewpoint/first- vs. third-person perspective), we analysed how Parkinson’s patients represent manner (how something/someone moves) and path information (where something/someone moves to) in gesture, depending on the degree of bodily motion involved in the action depicted. We replicated an earlier finding that people with Parkinson’s disease are less likely to gesture about actions from a first-person perspective – preferring instead to depict actions gesturally from a third-person perspective – and show that this effect is modulated by the degree of bodily motion in the actions being depicted. When describing high motion actions, the Parkinson’s group were specifically impaired in depicting manner information in gesture and their use of third-person path-only gestures was significantly increased. Gestures about low motion actions were relatively spared. These results inform our understanding of the neural and cognitive basis of gesture production by providing neuropsychological evidence that action gesture production relies on intact motor network function.

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  • Janse, E., & Andringa, S. J. (2021). The roles of cognitive abilities and hearing acuity in older adults’ recognition of words taken from fast and spectrally reduced speech. Applied Psycholinguistics, 42(3), 763-790. doi:10.1017/S0142716421000047.

    Abstract

    Previous literature has identified several cognitive abilities as predictors of individual differences in speech perception. Working memory was chief among them, but effects have also been found for processing speed. Most research has been conducted on speech in noise, but fast and unclear articulation also makes listening challenging, particularly for older listeners. As a first step toward specifying the cognitive mechanisms underlying spoken word recognition, we set up this study to determine which factors explain unique variation in word identification accuracy in fast speech, and the extent to which this was affected by further degradation of the speech signal. To that end, 105 older adults were tested on identification accuracy of fast words in unaltered and degraded conditions in which the speech stimuli were low-pass filtered. They were also tested on processing speed, memory, vocabulary knowledge, and hearing sensitivity. A structural equation analysis showed that only memory and hearing sensitivity explained unique variance in word recognition in both listening conditions. Working memory was more strongly associated with performance in the unfiltered than in the filtered condition. These results suggest that memory skills, rather than speed, facilitate the mapping of single words onto stored lexical representations, particularly in conditions of medium difficulty.
  • Jansen, N. A., Braden, R. O., Srivastava, S., Otness, E. F., Lesca, G., Rossi, M., Nizon, M., Bernier, R. A., Quelin, C., Van Haeringen, A., Kleefstra, T., Wong, M. M. K., Whalen, S., Fisher, S. E., Morgan, A. T., & Van Bon, B. W. (2021). Clinical delineation of SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder. European Journal of Human Genetics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/s41431-021-00888-9.

    Abstract

    SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder (MIM#616078) is caused by haploinsufficiency of SETBP1 on chromosome 18q12.3, but there has not yet been any systematic evaluation of the major features of this monogenic syndrome, assessing penetrance and expressivity. We describe the first comprehensive study to delineate the associated clinical phenotype, with findings from 34 individuals, including 24 novel cases, all of whom have a SETBP1 loss-of-function variant or single (coding) gene deletion, confirmed by molecular diagnostics. The most commonly reported clinical features included mild motor developmental delay, speech impairment, intellectual disability, hypotonia, vision impairment, attention/concentration deficits, and hyperactivity. Although there is a mild overlap in certain facial features, the disorder does not lead to a distinctive recognizable facial gestalt. As well as providing insight into the clinical spectrum of SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder, this reports puts forward care recommendations for patient management.

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  • Janssen, J., Díaz-Caneja, C. M., Alloza, C., Schippers, A., De Hoyos, L., Santonja, J., Gordaliza, P. M., Buimer, E. E. L., van Haren, N. E. M., Cahn, W., Arango, C., Kahn, R. S., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., & Schnack, H. G. (2021). Dissimilarity in sulcal width patterns in the cortex can be used to identify patients with schizophrenia with extreme deficits in cognitive performance. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 47(2), 552-561. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbaa131.

    Abstract

    Schizophrenia is a biologically complex disorder with multiple regional deficits in cortical brain morphology. In addition, interindividual heterogeneity of cortical morphological metrics is larger in patients with schizophrenia when compared to healthy controls. Exploiting interindividual differences in the severity of cortical morphological deficits in patients instead of focusing on group averages may aid in detecting biologically informed homogeneous subgroups. The person-based similarity index (PBSI) of brain morphology indexes an individual’s morphometric similarity across numerous cortical regions amongst a sample of healthy subjects. We extended the PBSI such that it indexes the morphometric similarity of an independent individual (eg, a patient) with respect to healthy control subjects. By employing a normative modeling approach on longitudinal data, we determined an individual’s degree of morphometric dissimilarity to the norm. We calculated the PBSI for sulcal width (PBSI-SW) in patients with schizophrenia and healthy control subjects (164 patients and 164 healthy controls; 656 magnetic resonance imaging scans) and associated it with cognitive performance and cortical sulcation index. A subgroup of patients with markedly deviant PBSI-SW showed extreme deficits in cognitive performance and cortical sulcation. Progressive reduction of PBSI-SW in the schizophrenia group relative to healthy controls was driven by these deviating individuals. By explicitly leveraging interindividual differences in the severity of PBSI-SW deficits, neuroimaging-driven subgrouping of patients is feasible. As such, our results pave the way for future applications of morphometric similarity indices for subtyping of clinical populations.

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  • Jones, G., Cabiddu, F., Andrews, M., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). Chunks of phonological knowledge play a significant role in children’s word learning and explain effects of neighborhood size, phonotactic probability, word frequency and word length. Journal of Memory and Language, 119: 104232. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2021.104232.

    Abstract

    A key omission from many accounts of children’s early word learning is the linguistic knowledge that the child has acquired up to the point when learning occurs. We simulate this knowledge using a computational model that learns phoneme and word sequence knowledge from naturalistic language corpora. We show how this simple model is able to account for effects of word length, word frequency, neighborhood density and phonotactic probability on children’s early word learning. Moreover, we show how effects of neighborhood density and phonotactic probability on word learning are largely influenced by word length, with our model being able to capture all effects. We then use predictions from the model to show how the ease by which a child learns a new word from maternal input is directly influenced by the phonological knowledge that the child has acquired from other words up to the point of encountering the new word. There are major implications of this work: models and theories of early word learning need to incorporate existing sublexical and lexical knowledge in explaining developmental change while well-established indices of word learning are rejected in favor of phonological knowledge of varying grain sizes.

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  • Jongman, S. R., Khoe, Y. H., & Hintz, F. (2021). Vocabulary size influences spontaneous speech in native language users: Validating the use of automatic speech recognition in individual differences research. Language and Speech, 64(1), 35-51. doi:10.1177/0023830920911079.

    Abstract

    Previous research has shown that vocabulary size affects performance on laboratory word production tasks. Individuals who know many words show faster lexical access and retrieve more words belonging to pre-specified categories than individuals who know fewer words. The present study examined the relationship between receptive vocabulary size and speaking skills as assessed in a natural sentence production task. We asked whether measures derived from spontaneous responses to every-day questions correlate with the size of participants’ vocabulary. Moreover, we assessed the suitability of automatic speech recognition for the analysis of participants’ responses in complex language production data. We found that vocabulary size predicted indices of spontaneous speech: Individuals with a larger vocabulary produced more words and had a higher speech-silence ratio compared to individuals with a smaller vocabulary. Importantly, these relationships were reliably identified using manual and automated transcription methods. Taken together, our results suggest that spontaneous speech elicitation is a useful method to investigate natural language production and that automatic speech recognition can alleviate the burden of labor-intensive speech transcription.
  • Karadöller, D. Z., Sumer, B., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). Effects and non-effects of late language exposure on spatial language development: Evidence from deaf adults and children. Language Learning and Development, 17(1), 1-25. doi:10.1080/15475441.2020.1823846.

    Abstract

    Late exposure to the first language, as in the case of deaf children with hearing parents, hinders the production of linguistic expressions, even in adulthood. Less is known about the development of language soon after language exposure and if late exposure hinders all domains of language in children and adults. We compared late signing adults and children (MAge = 8;5) 2 years after exposure to sign language, to their age-matched native signing peers in expressions of two types of locative relations that are acquired in certain cognitive-developmental order: view-independent (IN-ON-UNDER) and view-dependent (LEFT-RIGHT). Late signing children and adults differed from native signers in their use of linguistic devices for view-dependent relations but not for view-independent relations. These effects were also modulated by the morphological complexity. Hindering effects of late language exposure on the development of language in children and adults are not absolute but are modulated by cognitive and linguistic complexity.
  • Kidd, L., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). The effect of language-focused professional development on the knowledge and behaviour of preschool practitioners. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 21(1), 27-59. doi:10.1177/1468798418803664.

    Abstract

    The purpose of this project was to investigate the effectiveness of a language-focused professional development programme on the knowledge and behaviour of preschool practitioners (sometimes called early years practitioners) in the UK. In Study 1 we determined whether the training received by practitioners is effective in improving their knowledge of how to support children’s language and communicative development. In Study 2 we tested whether trained practitioners, and practitioners from centres with embedded Language Champions, were able to implement the techniques they had been taught. For this, we video-recorded practitioners interacting, one to one, with 2- and 3–4-year-old children in their centres. We conclude that (1) practitioners retain the knowledge they have been taught, both about how children learn and about how to promote this learning, and that (2), in some respects, this knowledge translates well into practice; practitioners in centres with embedded Language Champions and trained practitioners used language-enriching behaviours when interacting with children more often than did untrained practitioners. We discuss how the translation of some techniques into overt behaviour could be made more effective

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  • Kong, X., Postema, M., Schijven, D., Carrion Castillo, A., Pepe, A., Crivello, F., Joliot, M., Mazoyer, B., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2021). Large-scale phenomic and genomic analysis of brain asymmetrical skew. Cerebral Cortex. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhab075.

    Abstract

    The human cerebral hemispheres show a left–right asymmetrical torque pattern, which has been claimed to be absent in chimpanzees. The functional significance and developmental mechanisms are unknown. Here, we carried out the largest-ever analysis of global brain shape asymmetry in magnetic resonance imaging data. Three population datasets were used, UK Biobank (N = 39 678), Human Connectome Project (N = 1113), and BIL&GIN (N = 453). At the population level, there was an anterior and dorsal skew of the right hemisphere, relative to the left. Both skews were associated independently with handedness, and various regional gray and white matter metrics oppositely in the two hemispheres, as well as other variables related to cognitive functions, sociodemographic factors, and physical and mental health. The two skews showed single nucleotide polymorphisms-based heritabilities of 4–13%, but also substantial polygenicity in causal mixture model analysis, and no individually significant loci were found in genome-wide association studies for either skew. There was evidence for a significant genetic correlation between horizontal brain skew and autism, which requires future replication. These results provide the first large-scale description of population-average brain skews and their inter-individual variations, their replicable associations with handedness, and insights into biological and other factors which associate with human brain asymmetry.
  • Lattenkamp, E. Z., Nagy, M., Drexl, M., Vernes, S. C., Wiegrebe, L., & Knörnschild, M. (2021). Hearing sensitivity and amplitude coding in bats are differentially shaped by echolocation calls and social calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1942): 20202600. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2600.

    Abstract

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

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  • Levshina, N. (2021). Corpus-based typology: Applications, challenges and some solutions. Linguistic Typology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1515/lingty-2020-0118.

    Abstract

    Over the last few years, the number of corpora that can be used for language comparison has dramatically increased. The corpora are so diverse in their structure, size and annotation style, that a novice might not know where to start. The present paper charts this new and changing territory, providing a few landmarks, warning signs and safe paths. Although no corpora corpus at present can replace the traditional type of typological data based on language description in reference grammars, they corpora can help with diverse tasks, being particularly well suited for investigating probabilistic and gradient properties of languages and for discovering and interpreting cross-linguistic generalizations based on processing and communicative mechanisms. At the same time, the use of corpora for typological purposes has not only advantages and opportunities, but also numerous challenges. This paper also contains an empirical case study addressing two pertinent problems: the role of text types in language comparison and the problem of the word as a comparative concept.
  • Levshina, N. (2021). Communicative efficiency and differential case marking: A reverse-engineering approach. Linguistics Vanguard, 7(s3): 20190087. doi:10.1515/lingvan-2019-0087.
  • Levshina, N., & Moran, S. (2021). Efficiency in human languages: Corpus evidence for universal principles. Linguistics Vanguard, 7(s3): 20200081. doi:10.1515/lingvan-2020-0081.

    Abstract

    Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in communicative efficiency. It has been argued that language users act efficiently, saving effort for processing and articulation, and that language structure and use reflect this tendency. The emergence of new corpus data has brought to life numerous studies on efficient language use in the lexicon, in morphosyntax, and in discourse and phonology in different languages. In this introductory paper, we discuss communicative efficiency in human languages, focusing on evidence of efficient language use found in multilingual corpora. The evidence suggests that efficiency is a universal feature of human language. We provide an overview of different manifestations of efficiency on different levels of language structure, and we discuss the major questions and findings so far, some of which are addressed for the first time in the contributions in this special collection.
  • Lopopolo, A., Van de Bosch, A., Petersson, K. M., & Willems, R. M. (2021). Distinguishing syntactic operations in the brain: Dependency and phrase-structure parsing. Neurobiology of Language, 2(1), 152-175. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00029.

    Abstract

    Finding the structure of a sentence — the way its words hold together to convey meaning — is a fundamental step in language comprehension. Several brain regions, including the left inferior frontal gyrus, the left posterior superior temporal gyrus, and the left anterior temporal pole, are supposed to support this operation. The exact role of these areas is nonetheless still debated. In this paper we investigate the hypothesis that different brain regions could be sensitive to different kinds of syntactic computations. We compare the fit of phrase-structure and dependency structure descriptors to activity in brain areas using fMRI. Our results show a division between areas with regard to the type of structure computed, with the left ATP and left IFG favouring dependency structures and left pSTG favouring phrase structures.
  • Manhardt, F., Brouwer, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2021). A tale of two modalities: Sign and speech influence in each other in bimodal bilinguals. Psychological Science, 32(3), 424-436. doi:10.1177/0956797620968789.

    Abstract

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

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  • Mickan, A., McQueen, J. M., Valentini, B., Piai, V., & Lemhöfer, K. (2021). Electrophysiological evidence for cross-language interference in foreign-language attrition. Neuropsychologia, 155: 107795. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107795.

    Abstract

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

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  • Misersky, J., Slivac, K., Hagoort, P., & Flecken, M. (2021). The State of the Onion: Grammatical aspect modulates object representation during event comprehension. Cognition, 214: 104744. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104744.

    Abstract

    The present ERP study assessed whether grammatical aspect is used as a cue in online event comprehension, in particular when reading about events in which an object is visually changed. While perfective aspect cues holistic event representations, including an event's endpoint, progressive aspect highlights intermediate phases of an event. In a 2 × 3 design, participants read SVO sentences describing a change-of-state event (e.g., to chop an onion), with grammatical Aspect manipulated (perfective “chopped” vs progressive “was chopping”). Thereafter, they saw a Picture of an object either having undergone substantial state-change (SC; a chopped onion), no state-change (NSC; an onion in its original state) or an unrelated object (U; a cactus, acting as control condition). Their task was to decide whether the object in the Picture was mentioned in the sentence. We focused on N400 modulation, with ERPs time-locked to picture onset. U pictures elicited an N400 response as expected, suggesting detection of categorical mismatches in object type. For SC and NSC pictures, a whole-head follow-up analysis revealed a P300, implying people were engaged in detailed evaluation of pictures of matching objects. SC pictures received most positive responses overall. Crucially, there was an interaction of Aspect and Picture: SC pictures resulted in a higher amplitude P300 after sentences in the perfective compared to the progressive. Thus, while the perfective cued for a holistic event representation, including the resultant state of the affected object (i.e., the chopped onion) constraining object representations online, the progressive defocused event completion and object-state change. Grammatical aspect thus guided online event comprehension by cueing the visual representation(s) of an object's state.
  • Montero-Melis, G. (2021). Consistency in motion event encoding across languages. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 625153. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.625153.

    Abstract

    Syntactic templates serve as schemas, allowing speakers to describe complex events in a systematic fashion. Motion events have long served as a prime example of how different languages favor different syntactic frames, in turn biasing their speakers towards different event conceptualizations. However, there is also variability in how motion events are syntactically framed within languages. Here we measure the consistency in event encoding in two languages, Spanish and Swedish. We test a dominant account in the literature, namely that variability within a language can be explained by specific properties of the events. This event-properties account predicts that descriptions of one and the same event should be consistent within a language, even in languages where there is overall variability in the use of syntactic frames. Spanish and Swedish speakers (N=84) described 32 caused motion events. While the most frequent syntactic framing in each language was as expected based on typology (Spanish: verb-framed, Swedish: satellite-framed, cf. Talmy, 2000), Swedish descriptions were substantially more consistent than Spanish descriptions. Swedish speakers almost invariably encoded all events with a single syntactic frame and systematically conveyed manner of motion. Spanish descriptions, in contrast, varied much more regarding syntactic framing and expression of manner. Crucially, variability in Spanish descriptions was not mainly a function of differences between events, as predicted by the event-properties account. Rather, Spanish variability in syntactic framing was driven by speaker biases. A similar picture arose for whether Spanish descriptions expressed manner information or not: Even after accounting for the effect of syntactic choice, a large portion of the variance in Spanish manner encoding remained attributable to differences among speakers. The results show that consistency in motion event encoding starkly differs across languages: Some languages (like Swedish) bias their speakers towards a particular linguistic event schema much more than others (like Spanish). Implications of these findings are discussed with respect to the typology of event framing, theories on the relationship between language and thought, and speech planning. In addition, the tools employed here to quantify variability can be applied to other domains of language.

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  • Morgan, A., Braden, R., Wong, M. M. K., Colin, E., Amor, D., Liégeois, F., Srivastava, S., Vogel, A., Bizaoui, V., Ranguin, K., Fisher, S. E., & Van Bon, B. W. (2021). Speech and language deficits are central to SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder. European Journal of Human Genetics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/s41431-021-00894-x.

    Abstract

    Expressive communication impairment is associated with haploinsufficiency of SETBP1, as reported in small case series. Heterozygous pathogenic loss-of-function (LoF) variants in SETBP1 have also been identified in independent cohorts ascertained for childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), warranting further investigation of the roles of this gene in speech development. Thirty-one participants (12 males, aged 0; 8–23; 2 years, 28 with pathogenic SETBP1 LoF variants, 3 with 18q12.3 deletions) were assessed for speech, language and literacy abilities. Broader development was examined with standardised motor, social and daily life skills assessments. Gross and fine motor deficits (94%) and intellectual impairments (68%) were common. Protracted and aberrant speech development was consistently seen, regardless of motor or intellectual ability. We expand the linguistic phenotype associated with SETBP1 LoF syndrome (SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder), revealing a striking speech presentation that implicates both motor (CAS, dysarthria) and language (phonological errors) systems, with CAS (80%) being the most common diagnosis. In contrast to past reports, the understanding of language was rarely better preserved than language expression (29%). Language was typically low, to moderately impaired, with commensurate expression and comprehension ability. Children were sociable with a strong desire to communicate. Minimally verbal children (32%) augmented speech with sign language, gestures or digital devices. Overall, relative to general development, spoken language and literacy were poorer than social, daily living, motor and adaptive behaviour skills. Our findings show that poor communication is a central feature of SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder, confirming this gene as a strong candidate for speech and language disorders.
  • Nielsen, A. K. S., & Dingemanse, M. (2021). Iconicity in word learning and beyond: A critical review. Language and Speech, 64(1), 52-72. doi:10.1177/0023830920914339.

    Abstract

    Interest in iconicity (the resemblance-based mapping between aspects of form and meaning) is in the midst of a resurgence, and a prominent focus in the field has been the possible role of iconicity in language learning. Here we critically review theory and empirical findings in this domain. We distinguish local learning enhancement (where the iconicity of certain lexical items influences the learning of those items) and general learning enhancement (where the iconicity of certain lexical items influences the later learning of non-iconic items or systems). We find that evidence for local learning enhancement is quite strong, though not as clear cut as it is often described and based on a limited sample of languages. Despite common claims about broader facilitatory effects of iconicity on learning, we find that current evidence for general learning enhancement is lacking. We suggest a number of productive avenues for future research and specify what types of evidence would be required to show a role for iconicity in general learning enhancement. We also review evidence for functions of iconicity beyond word learning: iconicity enhances comprehension by providing complementary representations, supports communication about sensory imagery, and expresses affective meanings. Even if learning benefits may be modest or cross-linguistically varied, on balance, iconicity emerges as a vital aspect of language.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104688.

    Abstract

    Science regularly experiences periods in which simply describing the world is prioritised over attempting to explain it. Cognition, this journal, came into being some 45 years ago as an attempt to lay one such period to rest; without doubt, it has helped create the current cognitive science climate in which theory is decidedly welcome. Here we summarise the reasons why a theoretical approach is imperative in our field, and call attention to some potentially counter-productive trends in which cognitive models are concerned too exclusively with how processes work at the expense of why the processes exist in the first place and thus what the goal of modelling them must be.
  • Ostarek, M., & Bottini, R. (2021). Towards strong inference in research on embodiment – Possibilities and limitations of causal paradigms. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 5. doi:10.5334/joc.139.

    Abstract

    A central question in the cognitive sciences is which role embodiment plays for high- level cognitive functions, such as conceptual processing. here, we propose that one reason why progress regarding this question has been slow is a lacking focus on what platt (1964) called “strong inference”. strong inference is possible when results from an experimental paradigm are not merely consistent with a hypothesis, but they provide decisive evidence for one particular hypothesis compared to competing hypotheses. We discuss how causal paradigms, which test the functional relevance of sensory-motor processes for high-level cognitive functions, can move the field forward. in particular, we explore how congenital sensory-motor disorders, acquired sensory-motor deficits, and interference paradigms with healthy participants can be utilized as an opportunity to better understand the role of sensory experience in conceptual processing. Whereas all three approaches can bring about valuable insights, we highlight that the study of congenitally and acquired sensorimotor disorders is particularly effective in the case of conceptual domains with strong unimodal basis (e.g., colors), whereas interference paradigms with healthy participants have a broader application, avoid many of the practical and interpretational limitations of patient studies, and allow a systematic and step-wise progressive inference approach to causal mechanisms.
  • Ota, M., San Jose, A., & Smith, K. (2021). The emergence of word-internal repetition through iterated learning: Explaining the mismatch between learning biases and language design. Cognition, 210: 104585. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104585.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary data data
  • Parente, F., Conklin, K., Guy, J. M., & Scott, R. (2021). The role of empirical methods in investigating readers’ constructions of authorial creativity in literary reading. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics, 30(1), 21-36. doi:10.1177/0963947020952200.

    Abstract

    The popularity of literary biographies and the importance publishers place on author publicity materials suggest the concept of an author’s creative intentions is important to readers’ appreciation of literary works. However, the question of how this kind of contextual information informs literary interpretation is contentious. One area of dispute concerns the extent to which readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions are text-centred and therefore can adequately be understood by linguistic evidence alone. The current study shows how the relationship between linguistic and contextual factors in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions may be investigated empirically. We use eye-tracking to determine whether readers’ responses to textual features (changes to lexis and punctuation) are affected by prior, extra-textual prompts concerning information about an author’s creative intentions. We showed participants pairs of sentences from Oscar Wilde and Henry James while monitoring their eye movements. The first sentence was followed by a prompt denoting a different attribution (Authorial, Editorial/Publisher and Typographic) for the change that, if present, would appear in the second sentence. After reading the second sentence, participants were asked whether they had detected a change and, if so, to describe it. If the concept of an author’s creative intentions is implicated in literary reading this should influence participants’ reading behaviour and ability to accurately report a change based on the prompt. The findings showed that readers’ noticing of textual variants was sensitive to the prior prompt about its authorship, in the sense of producing an effect on attention and re-reading times. But they also showed that these effects did not follow the pattern predicted of them, based on prior assumptions about readers’ cultures. This last finding points to the importance, as well as the challenges, of further investigating the role of contextual information in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions.
  • Peeters, D., Krahmer, E., & Maes, A. (2021). A conceptual framework for the study of demonstrative reference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 28, 409-433. doi:10.3758/s13423-020-01822-8.

    Abstract

    Language allows us to efficiently communicate about the things in the world around us. Seemingly simple words like this and that are a cornerstone of our capability to refer, as they contribute to guiding the attention of our addressee to the specific entity we are talking about. Such demonstratives are acquired early in life, ubiquitous in everyday talk, often closely tied to our gestural communicative abilities, and present in all spoken languages of the world. Based on a review of recent experimental work, we here introduce a new conceptual framework of demonstrative reference. In the context of this framework, we argue that several physical, psychological, and referent-intrinsic factors dynamically interact to influence whether a speaker will use one demonstrative form (e.g., this) or another (e.g., that) in a given setting. However, the relative influence of these factors themselves is argued to be a function of the cultural language setting at hand, the theory-of-mind capacities of the speaker, and the affordances of the specific context in which the speech event takes place. It is demonstrated that the framework has the potential to reconcile findings in the literature that previously seemed irreconcilable. We show that the framework may to a large extent generalize to instances of endophoric reference (e.g., anaphora) and speculate that it may also describe the specific form and kinematics a speaker’s pointing gesture takes. Testable predictions and novel research questions derived from the framework are presented and discussed.
  • Postema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M. and 85 morePostema, M., Hoogman, M., Ambrosino, S., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Bandeira, C. E., Baranov, A., Bau, C. H. D., Baumeister, S., Baur-Streubel, R., Bellgrove, M. A., Biederman, J., Bralten, J., Brandeis, D., Brem, S., Buitelaar, J. K., Busatto, G. F., Castellanos, F. X., Cercignani, M., Chaim-Avancini, T. M., Chantiluke, K. C., Christakou, A., Coghill, D., Conzelmann, A., Cubillo, A. I., Cupertino, R. B., De Zeeuw, P., Doyle, A. E., Durston, S., Earl, E. A., Epstein, J. N., Ethofer, T., Fair, D. A., Fallgatter, A. J., Faraone, S. V., Frodl, T., Gabel, M. C., Gogberashvili, T., Grevet, E. H., Haavik, J., Harrison, N. A., Hartman, C. A., Heslenfeld, D. J., Hoekstra, P. J., Hohmann, S., Høvik, M. F., Jernigan, T. L., Kardatzki, B., Karkashadze, G., Kelly, C., Kohls, G., Konrad, K., Kuntsi, J., Lazaro, L., Lera-Miguel, S., Lesch, K.-P., Louza, M. R., Lundervold, A. J., Malpas, C. B., Mattos, P., McCarthy, H., Namazova-Baranova, L., Nicolau, R., Nigg, J. T., Novotny, S. E., Oberwelland Weiss, E., O'Gorman Tuura, R. L., Oosterlaan, J., Oranje, B., Paloyelis, Y., Pauli, P., Picon, F. A., Plessen, K. J., Ramos-Quiroga, J. A., Reif, A., Reneman, L., Rosa, P. G. P., Rubia, K., Schrantee, A., Schweren, L. J. S., Seitz, J., Shaw, P., Silk, T. J., Skokauskas, N., Soliva Vila, J. C., Stevens, M. C., Sudre, G., Tamm, L., Tovar-Moll, F., Van Erp, T. G. M., Vance, A., Vilarroya, O., Vives-Gilabert, Y., Von Polier, G. G., Walitza, S., Yoncheva, Y. N., Zanetti, M. V., Ziegler, G. C., Glahn, D. C., Jahanshad, N., Medland, S. E., ENIGMA ADHD Working Group, Thompson, P. M., Fisher, S. E., Franke, B., & Francks, C. (2021). Analysis of structural brain asymmetries in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in 39 datasets. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/jcpp.13396.

    Abstract

    Objective: Some studies have suggested alterations of structural brain asymmetry in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but findings have been contradictory and based on small samples. Here we performed the largest-ever analysis of brain left-right asymmetry in ADHD, using 39 datasets of the ENIGMA consortium. Methods: We analyzed asymmetry of subcortical and cerebral cortical structures in up to 1,933 people with ADHD and 1,829 unaffected controls. Asymmetry Indexes (AIs) were calculated per participant for each bilaterally paired measure, and linear mixed effects modelling was applied separately in children, adolescents, adults, and the total sample, to test exhaustively for potential associations of ADHD with structural brain asymmetries. Results: There was no evidence for altered caudate nucleus asymmetry in ADHD, in contrast to prior literature. In children, there was less rightward asymmetry of the total hemispheric surface area compared to controls (t=2.1, P=0.04). Lower rightward asymmetry of medial orbitofrontal cortex surface area in ADHD (t=2.7, P=0.01) was similar to a recent finding for autism spectrum disorder. There were also some differences in cortical thickness asymmetry across age groups. In adults with ADHD, globus pallidus asymmetry was altered compared to those without ADHD. However, all effects were small (Cohen’s d from -0.18 to 0.18) and would not survive study-wide correction for multiple testing. Conclusion: Prior studies of altered structural brain asymmetry in ADHD were likely under-powered to detect the small effects reported here. Altered structural asymmetry is unlikely to provide a useful biomarker for ADHD, but may provide neurobiological insights into the trait.
  • Pouw, W., De Jonge-Hoekstra, L., Harrison, S. J., Paxton, A., & Dixon, J. A. (2021). Gesture-speech physics in fluent speech and rhythmic upper limb movements. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1491(1), 89-105. doi:10.1111/nyas.14532.

    Abstract

    Communicative hand gestures are often coordinated with prosodic aspects of speech, and salient moments of gestural movement (e.g., quick changes in speed) often co-occur with salient moments in speech (e.g., near peaks in fundamental frequency and intensity). A common understanding is that such gesture and speech coordination is culturally and cognitively acquired, rather than having a biological basis. Recently, however, the biomechanical physical coupling of arm movements to speech movements has been identified as a potentially important factor in understanding the emergence of gesture-speech coordination. Specifically, in the case of steady-state vocalization and mono-syllable utterances, forces produced during gesturing are transferred onto the tensioned body, leading to changes in respiratory-related activity and thereby affecting vocalization F0 and intensity. In the current experiment (N = 37), we extend this previous line of work to show that gesture-speech physics impacts fluent speech, too. Compared with non-movement, participants who are producing fluent self-formulated speech, while rhythmically moving their limbs, demonstrate heightened F0 and amplitude envelope, and such effects are more pronounced for higher-impulse arm versus lower-impulse wrist movement. We replicate that acoustic peaks arise especially during moments of peak-impulse (i.e., the beat) of the movement, namely around deceleration phases of the movement. Finally, higher deceleration rates of higher-mass arm movements were related to higher peaks in acoustics. These results confirm a role for physical-impulses of gesture affecting the speech system. We discuss the implications of gesture-speech physics for understanding of the emergence of communicative gesture, both ontogenetically and phylogenetically.

    Additional information

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

    Abstract

    Brain connectivity plays a major role in the encoding, transfer, and integration of sensory information. Interregional synchronization of neural oscillations in the γ-frequency band has been suggested as a key mechanism underlying perceptual integration. In a recent study, we found evidence for this hypothesis showing that the modulation of interhemispheric oscillatory synchrony by means of bihemispheric high-density transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-TACS) affects binaural integration of dichotic acoustic features. Here, we aimed to establish a direct link between oscillatory synchrony, effective brain connectivity, and binaural integration. We experimentally manipulated oscillatory synchrony (using bihemispheric γ-TACS with different interhemispheric phase lags) and assessed the effect on effective brain connectivity and binaural integration (as measured with functional MRI and a dichotic listening task, respectively). We found that TACS reduced intrahemispheric connectivity within the auditory cortices and antiphase (interhemispheric phase lag 180°) TACS modulated connectivity between the two auditory cortices. Importantly, the changes in intra- and interhemispheric connectivity induced by TACS were correlated with changes in perceptual integration. Our results indicate that γ-band synchronization between the two auditory cortices plays a functional role in binaural integration, supporting the proposed role of interregional oscillatory synchrony in perceptual integration.
  • Pronina, M., Hübscher, I., Holler, J., & Prieto, P. (2021). Interactional training interventions boost children’s expressive pragmatic abilities: Evidence from a novel multidimensional testing approach. Cognitive Development, 57: 101003. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2020.101003.

    Abstract

    This study investigates the effectiveness of training preschoolers in order to enhance their social cognition and pragmatic skills. Eighty-three 3–4-year-olds were divided into three groups and listened to stories enriched with mental state terms. Then, whereas the control group engaged in non-reflective activities, the two experimental groups were guided by a trainer to reflect on mental states depicted in the stories. In one of these groups, the children were prompted to not only talk about these states but also “embody” them through prosodic and gestural cues. Results showed that while there were no significant effects on Theory of Mind, emotion understanding, and mental state verb comprehension, the experimental groups significantly improved their pragmatic skill scores pretest-to-posttest. These results suggest that interactional interventions can contribute to preschoolers’ pragmatic development, demonstrate the value of the new embodied training, and highlight the importance of multidimensional testing for the evaluation of intervention effects.
  • Puebla, G., Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2021). The relational processing limits of classic and contemporary neural network models of language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(2), 240-254. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1821906.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Räsänen, O., Seshadri, S., Lavechin, M., Cristia, A., & Casillas, M. (2021). ALICE: An open-source tool for automatic measurement of phoneme, syllable, and word counts from child-centered daylong recordings. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 818-835. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01460-x.

    Abstract

    Recordings captured by wearable microphones are a standard method for investigating young children’s language environments. A key measure to quantify from such data is the amount of speech present in children’s home environments. To this end, the LENA recorder and software—a popular system for measuring linguistic input—estimates the number of adult words that children may hear over the course of a recording. However, word count estimation is challenging to do in a language-independent manner; the relationship between observable acoustic patterns and language-specific lexical entities is far from uniform across human languages. In this paper, we ask whether some alternative linguistic units, namely phone(me)s or syllables, could be measured instead of, or in parallel with, words in order to achieve improved cross-linguistic applicability and comparability of an automated system for measuring child language input. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of measuring different units from theoretical and technical points of view. We also investigate the practical applicability of measuring such units using a novel system called Automatic LInguistic unit Count Estimator (ALICE) together with audio from seven child-centered daylong audio corpora from diverse cultural and linguistic environments. We show that language-independent measurement of phoneme counts is somewhat more accurate than syllables or words, but all three are highly correlated with human annotations on the same data. We share an open-source implementation of ALICE for use by the language research community, allowing automatic phoneme, syllable, and word count estimation from child-centered audio recordings.
  • Ravignani, A., & De Boer, B. (2021). Joint origins of speech and music: Testing evolutionary hypotheses on modern humans. Semiotica, 239, 169-176. doi:10.1515/sem-2019-0048.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Redl, T., Frank, S. L., De Swart, P., & De Hoop, H. (2021). The male bias of a generically-intended masculine pronoun: Evidence from eye-tracking and sentence evaluation. PLoS One, 16(4): e0249309. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0249309.

    Abstract

    Two experiments tested whether the Dutch possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ gives rise to a gender inference and thus causes a male bias when used generically in sentences such as Everyone was putting on his shoes. Experiment 1 (N = 120, 48 male) was a conceptual replication of a previous eye-tracking study that had not found evidence of a male bias. The results of the current eye-tracking experiment showed the generically-intended masculine pronoun to trigger a gender inference and cause a male bias, but for male participants and in stereotypically neutral stereotype contexts only. No evidence for a male bias was thus found in stereotypically female and male context nor for female participants altogether. Experiment 2 (N = 80, 40 male) used the same stimuli as Experiment 1, but employed the sentence evaluation paradigm. No evidence of a male bias was found in Experiment 2. Taken together, the results suggest that the generically-intended masculine pronoun zijn ‘his’ can cause a male bias for male participants even when the referents are previously introduced by inclusive and grammatically gender-unmarked iedereen ‘everyone’. This male bias surfaces with eye-tracking, which taps directly into early language processing, but not in offline sentence evaluations. Furthermore, the results suggest that the intended generic reading of the masculine possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ is more readily available for women than for men.

    Additional information

    data
  • Rhie, A., McCarthy, S. A., Fedrigo, O., Damas, J., Formenti, G., Koren, S., Uliano-Silva, M., Chow, W., Fungtammasan, A., Kim, J., Lee, C., Ko, B. J., Chaisson, M., Gedman, G. L., Cantin, L. J., Thibaud-Nissen, F., Haggerty, L., Bista, I., Smith, M., Haase, B. and 107 moreRhie, A., McCarthy, S. A., Fedrigo, O., Damas, J., Formenti, G., Koren, S., Uliano-Silva, M., Chow, W., Fungtammasan, A., Kim, J., Lee, C., Ko, B. J., Chaisson, M., Gedman, G. L., Cantin, L. J., Thibaud-Nissen, F., Haggerty, L., Bista, I., Smith, M., Haase, B., Mountcastle, J., Winkler, S., Paez, S., Howard, J., Vernes, S. C., Lama, T. M., Grutzner, F., Warren, W. C., Balakrishnan, C. N., Burt, D., George, J. M., Biegler, M. T., Iorns, D., Digby, A., Eason, D., Robertson, B., Edwards, T., Wilkinson, M., Turner, G., Meyer, A., Kautt, A. F., Franchini, P., Detrich, H. W., Svardal, H., Wagner, M., Naylor, G. J. P., Pippel, M., Malinsky, M., Mooney, M., Simbirsky, M., Hannigan, B. T., Pesout, T., Houck, M., Misuraca, A., Kingan, S. B., Hall, R., Kronenberg, Z., Sović, I., Dunn, C., Ning, Z., Hastie, A., Lee, J., Selvaraj, S., Green, R. E., Putnam, N. H., Gut, I., Ghurye, J., Garrison, E., Sims, Y., Collins, J., Pelan, S., Torrance, J., Tracey, A., Wood, J., Dagnew, R. E., Guan, D., London, S. E., Clayton, D. F., Mello, C. V., Friedrich, S. R., Lovell, P. V., Osipova, E., Al-Ajli, F. O., Secomandi, S., Kim, H., Theofanopoulou, C., Hiller, M., Zhou, Y., Harris, R. S., Makova, K. D., Medvedev, P., Hoffman, J., Masterson, P., Clark, K., Martin, F., Howe, K., Flicek, P., Walenz, B. P., Kwak, W., Clawson, H., Diekhans, M., Nassar, L., Paten, B., Kraus, R. H. S., Crawford, A. J., Gilbert, M. T. P., Zhang, G., Venkatesh, B., Murphy, R. W., Koepfli, K.-P., Shapiro, B., Johnson, W. E., Di Palma, F., Marques-Bonet, T., Teeling, E. C., Warnow, T., Graves, J. M., Ryder, O. A., Haussler, D., O’Brien, S. J., Korlach, J., Lewin, H. A., Howe, K., Myers, E. W., Durbin, R., Phillippy, A. M., & Jarvis, E. D. (2021). Towards complete and error-free genome assemblies of all vertebrate species. Nature, 592, 737-746. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03451-0.

    Abstract

    High-quality and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for the application of genomics to biology, disease, and biodiversity conservation. However, such assemblies are available for only a few non-microbial species1,2,3,4. To address this issue, the international Genome 10K (G10K) consortium5,6 has worked over a five-year period to evaluate and develop cost-effective methods for assembling highly accurate and nearly complete reference genomes. Here we present lessons learned from generating assemblies for 16 species that represent six major vertebrate lineages. We confirm that long-read sequencing technologies are essential for maximizing genome quality, and that unresolved complex repeats and haplotype heterozygosity are major sources of assembly error when not handled correctly. Our assemblies correct substantial errors, add missing sequence in some of the best historical reference genomes, and reveal biological discoveries. These include the identification of many false gene duplications, increases in gene sizes, chromosome rearrangements that are specific to lineages, a repeated independent chromosome breakpoint in bat genomes, and a canonical GC-rich pattern in protein-coding genes and their regulatory regions. Adopting these lessons, we have embarked on the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP), an international effort to generate high-quality, complete reference genomes for all of the roughly 70,000 extant vertebrate species and to help to enable a new era of discovery across the life sciences.
  • Rodd, J., Decuyper, C., Bosker, H. R., & Ten Bosch, L. (2021). A tool for efficient and accurate segmentation of speech data: Announcing POnSS. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 744-756. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01449-6.

    Abstract

    Despite advances in automatic speech recognition (ASR), human input is still essential to produce research-grade segmentations of speech data. Con- ventional approaches to manual segmentation are very labour-intensive. We introduce POnSS, a browser-based system that is specialized for the task of segmenting the onsets and offsets of words, that combines aspects of ASR with limited human input. In developing POnSS, we identified several sub- tasks of segmentation, and implemented each of these as separate interfaces for the annotators to interact with, to streamline their task as much as possible. We evaluated segmentations made with POnSS against a base- line of segmentations of the same data made conventionally in Praat. We observed that POnSS achieved comparable reliability to segmentation us- ing Praat, but required 23% less annotator time investment. Because of its greater efficiency without sacrificing reliability, POnSS represents a distinct methodological advance for the segmentation of speech data.
  • Rossi, G., & Stivers, T. (2021). Category-sensitive actions in interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 84(1), 49-74. doi:10.1177/0190272520944595.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (1963). Naar aanleiding van Dr. F. Balk-Smit Duyzentkunst "De Grammatische Functie". Levende Talen, 219, 179-186.
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (2021). Essentials of semantic syntax: An appetiser. Cadernos de Linguística, 2(1). doi:10.25189/2675-4916.2021.v2.n1.id290.

    Abstract

    Semantic Syntax (SeSyn), originally called Generative Semantics, is an offshoot of Chomskyan generative grammar (ChoGG), rejected by Chomsky and his school in the late 1960s. SeSyn is the theory of algorithmical grammars producing the well-formed sentences of a language L from the corresponding semantic input, the Semantic Analysis (SA), represented as a traditional tree structure diagram in a specific formal language of incremental predicate logic with quantifying and qualifying operators (including the truth functions), and with all lexical items filled in. A SeSyn-type grammar is thus by definition transformational, but not generative. The SA originates in cognition in a manner that is still largely mysterious, but its actual form can be distilled from the Surface Structure (SS) of the sentences of L following the principles set out in SeSyn. In this presentation we provide a more or less technical résumé of the SeSyn theory. A comparison is made with ChoGG-type grammars, which are rejected on account of their intrinsic unsuitability as a cognitive-realist grammar model. The ChoGG model follows the pattern of a 1930s neopositivist Carnap-type grammar for formal logical languages. Such grammars are random sentence generators, whereas, obviously, (nonpathological) humans are not. A ChoGG-type grammar is fundamentally irreconcilable with a mentalist-realist theory of grammar. The body of the paper consists in a demonstration of the production of an English and a French sentence, the latter containing a classic instance of the cyclic rule of Predicate Raising (PR), essential in the general theory of clausal complementation yet steadfastly repudiated in ChoGG for reasons that have never been clarified. The processes and categories defined in SeSyn are effortlessly recognised in languages all over the world, whether indigenous or languages of a dominant culture—taking into account language-specific values for the general theoretical parameters involved. This property makes SeSyn particularly relevant for linguistic typology, which now ranks as the most promising branch of linguistics but has so far conspicuously lacked an adequate theoretical basis.
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (2021). Saving the square of opposition. History and Philosophy of Logic, 42(1), 72-96. doi:10.1080/01445340.2020.1865782.

    Abstract

    Contrary to received opinion, the Aristotelian Square of Opposition (square) is logically sound, differing from standard modern predicate logic (SMPL) only in that it restricts the universe U of cognitively constructible situations by banning null predicates, making it less unnatural than SMPL. U-restriction strengthens the logic without making it unsound. It also invites a cognitive approach to logic. Humans are endowed with a cognitive predicate logic (CPL), which checks the process of cognitive modelling (world construal) for consistency. The square is considered a first approximation to CPL, with a cognitive set-theoretic semantics. Not being cognitively real, the null set Ø is eliminated from the semantics of CPL. Still rudimentary in Aristotle’s On Interpretation (Int), the square was implicitly completed in his Prior Analytics (PrAn), thereby introducing U-restriction. Abelard’s reconstruction of the logic of Int is logically and historically correct; the loca (Leaking O-Corner Analysis) interpretation of the square, defended by some modern logicians, is logically faulty and historically untenable. Generally, U-restriction, not redefining the universal quantifier, as in Abelard and loca, is the correct path to a reconstruction of CPL. Valuation Space modelling is used to compute the effects of U-restriction.
  • Sha, Z., Schijven, D., Carrion Castillo, A., Joliot, M., Mazoyer, B., Fisher, S. E., Crivello, F., & Francks, C. (2021). The genetic architecture of structural left–right asymmetry of the human brain. Nature Human Behaviour. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01069-w.

    Abstract

    Left–right hemispheric asymmetry is an important aspect of healthy brain organization for many functions including language, and it can be altered in cognitive and psychiatric disorders. No mechanism has yet been identified for establishing the human brain’s left–right axis. We performed multivariate genome-wide association scanning of cortical regional surface area and thickness asymmetries, and subcortical volume asymmetries, using data from 32,256 participants from the UK Biobank. There were 21 significant loci associated with different aspects of brain asymmetry, with functional enrichment involving microtubule-related genes and embryonic brain expression. These findings are consistent with a known role of the cytoskeleton in left–right axis determination in other organs of invertebrates and frogs. Genetic variants associated with brain asymmetry overlapped with those associated with autism, educational attainment and schizophrenia. Comparably large datasets will likely be required in future studies, to replicate and further clarify the associations of microtubule-related genes with variation in brain asymmetry, behavioural and psychiatric traits.
  • Shkaravska, O., & Van Eekelen, M. (2021). Polynomial solutions of algebraic difference equations and homogeneous symmetric polynomials. Journal of Symbolic Computation, 103, 22-45. doi:10.1016/j.jsc.2019.10.022.

    Abstract

    This article addresses the problem of computing an upper bound of the degree d of a polynomial solution P(x) of an algebraic differ- ence equation of the form Gx)(P(x −τ1), . . . , P(x −τs) + G0(x) = 0 when such P(x) with the coefficients in a field K of character- istic zero exists and where G is a non-linear s-variable polynomial with coefficients in K[x] and G0 is a polynomial with coefficients in K. It will be shown that if G is a quadratic polynomial with constant coefficients then one can construct a countable family of polynomi- als fl(u0) such that if there exists a (minimal) index l0 with fl0(u0) being a non-zero polynomial, then the degree d is one of its roots or d ≤ l0, or d < deg(G0). Moreover, the existence of such l0 will be proven for K being the field of real numbers. These results are based on the properties of the modules generated by special fami- lies of homogeneous symmetric polynomials. A sufficient condition for the existence of a similar bound of the degree of a polynomial solution for an algebraic difference equation with G of arbitrary total degree and with variable coefficients will be proven as well.
  • Smeets, C. J. L. M., Ma, K. Y., Fisher, S. E., & Verbeek, D. S. (2021). Cerebellar developmental deficits underlie neurodegenerative disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 23. Brain Pathology, 31(2), 239-252. doi:10.1111/bpa.12905.

    Abstract

    Spinocerebellar ataxia type 23 (SCA23) is a late‐onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by slowly progressive gait and limb ataxia, for which there is no therapy available. It is caused by pathogenic variants in PDYN, which encodes prodynorphin (PDYN). PDYN is processed into the opioid peptides α‐neoendorphin and dynorphins (Dyn) A and B; inhibitory neurotransmitters that function in pain signaling, stress‐induced responses and addiction. Variants causing SCA23 mostly affect Dyn A, leading to loss of secondary structure and increased peptide stability. PDYNR212W mice express human PDYN containing the SCA23 variant p.R212W. These mice show progressive motor deficits from 3 months of age, climbing fiber (CF) deficits from 3 months of age, and Purkinje cell (PC) loss from 12 months of age. A mouse model for SCA1 showed similar CF deficits, and a recent study found additional developmental abnormalities, namely increased GABAergic interneuron connectivity and non‐cell autonomous disruption of PC function. As SCA23 mice show a similar pathology to SCA1 mice in adulthood, we hypothesized that SCA23 may also follow SCA1 pathology during development. Examining PDYNR212W cerebella during development, we uncovered developmental deficits from 2 weeks of age, namely a reduced number of GABAergic synapses on PC soma, possibly leading to the observed delay in early phase CF elimination between 2 and 3 weeks of age. Furthermore, CFs did not reach terminal height, leaving proximal PC dendrites open to be occupied by parallel fibers (PFs). The observed increase in vGlut1 protein—a marker for PF‐PC synapses—indicates that PFs indeed take over CF territory and have increased connectivity with PCs. Additionally, we detected altered expression of several critical Ca2+ channel subunits, potentially contributing to altered Ca2+ transients in PDYNR212W cerebella. These findings indicate that developmental abnormalities contribute to the SCA23 pathology and uncover a developmental role for PDYN in the cerebellum.
  • Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2021). The effect of orthographic systems on the developing reading system: Typological and computational analyses. Psychological Review, 128(1), 125-159. doi:10.1037/rev0000257.

    Abstract

    Orthographic systems vary dramatically in the extent to which they encode a language’s phonological and lexico-semantic structure. Studies of the effects of orthographic transparency suggest that such variation is likely to have major implications for how the reading system operates. However, such studies have been unable to examine in isolation the contributory effect of transparency on reading due to co-varying linguistic or socio-cultural factors. We first investigated the phonological properties of languages using the range of the world’s orthographic systems (alphabetic; alphasyllabic; consonantal; syllabic; logographic), and found that, once geographical proximity is taken into account, phonological properties do not relate to orthographic system. We then explored the processing implications of orthographic variation by training a connectionist implementation of the triangle model of reading on the range of orthographic systems whilst controlling for phonological and semantic structure. We show that the triangle model is effective as a universal model of reading, able to replicate key behavioural and neuroscientific results. Importantly, the model also generates new predictions deriving from an explicit description of the effects of orthographic transparency on how reading is realised and defines the consequences of orthographic systems on reading processes.
  • Snijders Blok, L., Vino, A., Den Hoed, J., Underhill, H. R., Monteil, D., Li, H., Reynoso Santos, F. J., Chung, W. K., Amaral, M. D., Schnur, R. E., Santiago-Sim, T., Si, Y., Brunner, H. G., Kleefstra, T., & Fisher, S. E. (2021). Heterozygous variants that disturb the transcriptional repressor activity of FOXP4 cause a developmental disorder with speech/language delays and multiple congenital abnormalities. Genetics in Medicine, 23, 534-542. doi:10.1038/s41436-020-01016-6.

    Abstract

    Heterozygous pathogenic variants in various FOXP genes cause specific developmental disorders. The phenotype associated with heterozygous variants in FOXP4 has not been previously described. We assembled a cohort of eight individuals with heterozygous and mostly de novo variants in FOXP4: seven individuals with six different missense variants and one individual with a frameshift variant. We collected clinical data to delineate the phenotypic spectrum, and used in silico analyses and functional cell-based assays to assess pathogenicity of the variants. We collected clinical data for six individuals: five individuals with a missense variant in the forkhead box DNA-binding domain of FOXP4, and one individual with a truncating variant. Overlapping features included speech and language delays, growth abnormalities, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, cervical spine abnormalities, and ptosis. Luciferase assays showed loss-of-function effects for all these variants, and aberrant subcellular localization patterns were seen in a subset. The remaining two missense variants were located outside the functional domains of FOXP4, and showed transcriptional repressor capacities and localization patterns similar to the wild-type protein. Collectively, our findings show that heterozygous loss-of-function variants in FOXP4 are associated with an autosomal dominant neurodevelopmental disorder with speech/language delays, growth defects, and variable congenital abnormalities.
  • Sønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S. and 84 moreSønderby, I. E., Ching, C. R. K., Thomopoulos, S. I., Van der Meer, D., Sun, D., Villalon‐Reina, J. E., Agartz, I., Amunts, K., Arango, C., Armstrong, N. J., Ayesa‐Arriola, R., Bakker, G., Bassett, A. S., Boomsma, D. I., Bülow, R., Butcher, N. J., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Chow, E. W. C., Cichon, S., Ciufolini, S., Craig, M. C., Crespo‐Facorro, B., Cunningham, A. C., Dale, A. M., Dazzan, P., De Zubicaray, G. I., Djurovic, S., Doherty, J. L., Donohoe, G., Draganski, B., Durdle, C. A., Ehrlich, S., Emanuel, B. S., Espeseth, T., Fisher, S. E., Ge, T., Glahn, D. C., Grabe, H. J., Gur, R. E., Gutman, B. A., Haavik, J., Håberg, A. K., Hansen, L. A., Hashimoto, R., Hibar, D. P., Holmes, A. J., Hottenga, J., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Jalbrzikowski, M., Knowles, E. E. M., Kushan, L., Linden, D. E. J., Liu, J., Lundervold, A. J., Martin‐Brevet, S., Martínez, K., Mather, K. A., Mathias, S. R., McDonald‐McGinn, D. M., McRae, A. F., Medland, S. E., Moberget, T., Modenato, C., Monereo Sánchez, J., Moreau, C. A., Mühleisen, T. W., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Prieto, C., Ragothaman, A., Reinbold, C. S., Reis Marques, T., Repetto, G. M., Reymond, A., Roalf, D. R., Rodriguez‐Herreros, B., Rucker, J. J., Sachdev, P. S., Schmitt, J. E., Schofield, P. R., Silva, A. I., Stefansson, H., Stein, D. J., Tamnes, C. K., Tordesillas‐Gutiérrez, D., Ulfarsson, M. O., Vajdi, A., Van 't Ent, D., Van den Bree, M. B. M., Vassos, E., Vázquez‐Bourgon, J., Vila‐Rodriguez, F., Walters, G. B., Wen, W., Westlye, L. T., Wittfeld, K., Zackai, E. H., Stefánsson, K., Jacquemont, S., Thompson, P. M., Bearden, C. E., Andreassen, O. A., the ENIGMA-CNV Working Group, & the ENIGMA 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Group (2021). Effects of copy number variations on brain structure and risk for psychiatric illness: Large‐scale studies from the ENIGMAworking groups on CNVs. Human Brain Mapping. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/hbm.25354.

    Abstract

    The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta‐Analysis copy number variant (ENIGMA‐CNV) and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Groups (22q‐ENIGMA WGs) were created to gain insight into the involvement of genetic factors in human brain development and related cognitive, psychiatric and behavioral manifestations. To that end, the ENIGMA‐CNV WG has collated CNV and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from ~49,000 individuals across 38 global research sites, yielding one of the largest studies to date on the effects of CNVs on brain structures in the general population. The 22q‐ENIGMA WG includes 12 international research centers that assessed over 533 individuals with a confirmed 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 40 with 22q11.2 duplications, and 333 typically developing controls, creating the largest‐ever 22q11.2 CNV neuroimaging data set. In this review, we outline the ENIGMA infrastructure and procedures for multi‐site analysis of CNVs and MRI data. So far, ENIGMA has identified effects of the 22q11.2, 16p11.2 distal, 15q11.2, and 1q21.1 distal CNVs on subcortical and cortical brain structures. Each CNV is associated with differences in cognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits, with characteristic patterns of brain structural abnormalities. Evidence of gene‐dosage effects on distinct brain regions also emerged, providing further insight into genotype–phenotype relationships. Taken together, these results offer a more comprehensive picture of molecular mechanisms involved in typical and atypical brain development. This “genotype‐first” approach also contributes to our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of brain disorders. Finally, we outline future directions to better understand effects of CNVs on brain structure and behavior.
  • Sønderby, I. E., Van der Meer, D., Moreau, C., Kaufmann, T., Walters, G. B., Ellegaard, M., Abdellaoui, A., Ames, D., Amunts, K., Andersson, M., Armstrong, N. J., Bernard, M., Blackburn, N. B., Blangero, J., Boomsma, D. I., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Bülow, R., Bøen, R., Cahn, W. and 125 moreSønderby, I. E., Van der Meer, D., Moreau, C., Kaufmann, T., Walters, G. B., Ellegaard, M., Abdellaoui, A., Ames, D., Amunts, K., Andersson, M., Armstrong, N. J., Bernard, M., Blackburn, N. B., Blangero, J., Boomsma, D. I., Brodaty, H., Brouwer, R. M., Bülow, R., Bøen, R., Cahn, W., Calhoun, V. D., Caspers, S., Ching, C. R. K., Cichon, S., Ciufolini, S., Crespo-Facorro, B., Curran, J. E., Dale, A. M., Dalvie, S., Dazzan, P., De Geus, E. J. C., De Zubicaray, G. I., De Zwarte, S. M. C., Desrivieres, S., Doherty, J. L., Donohoe, G., Draganski, B., Ehrlich, S., Eising, E., Espeseth, T., Fejgin, K., Fisher, S. E., Fladby, T., Frei, O., Frouin, V., Fukunaga, M., Gareau, T., Ge, T., Glahn, D. C., Grabe, H. J., Groenewold, N. A., Gústafsson, Ó., Haavik, J., Haberg, A. K., Hall, J., Hashimoto, R., Hehir-Kwa, J. Y., Hibar, D. P., Hillegers, M. H. J., Hoffmann, P., Holleran, L., Holmes, A. J., Homuth, G., Hottenga, J.-J., Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Ikeda, M., Jahanshad, N., Jockwitz, C., Johansson, S., Jönsson, E. G., Jørgensen, N. R., Kikuchi, M., Knowles, E. E. M., Kumar, K., Le Hellard, S., Leu, C., Linden, D. E., Liu, J., Lundervold, A., Lundervold, A. J., Maillard, A. M., Martin, N. G., Martin-Brevet, S., Mather, K. A., Mathias, S. R., McMahon, K. L., McRae, A. F., Medland, S. E., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Moberget, T., Modenato, C., Monereo Sánchez, J., Morris, D. W., Mühleisen, T. W., Murray, R. M., Nielsen, J., Nordvik, J. E., Nyberg, L., Olde Loohuis, L. M., Ophoff, R. A., Owen, M. J., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Peralta, J. M., Pike, B., Prieto, C., Quinlan, E. B., Reinbold, C. S., Reis Marques, T., Rucker, J. J. H., Sachdev, P. S., Sando, S. B., Schofield, P. R., Schork, A. J., Schumann, G., Shin, J., Shumskaya, E., Silva, A. I., Sisodiya, S. M., Steen, V. M., Stein, D. J., Strike, L. T., Suzuki, I. K., Tamnes, C. K., Teumer, A., Thalamuthu, A., Tordesillas-Gutiérrez, D., Uhlmann, A., Úlfarsson, M. Ö., Van 't Ent, D., Van den Bree, M. B. M., Vanderhaeghen, P., Vassos, E., Wen, W., Wittfeld, K., Wright, M. J., Agartz, I., Djurovic, S., Westlye, L. T., Stefánsson, H., Stefánsson, K., Jacquemont, S., Thompson, P. M., Andreassen, O. A., & the ENIGMA-CNV working group (2021). 1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans. Translational Psychiatry, 11: 182. doi:10.1038/s41398-021-01213-0.

    Abstract

    Low-frequency 1q21.1 distal deletion and duplication copy number variant (CNV) carriers are predisposed to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Human carriers display a high prevalence of micro- and macrocephaly in deletion and duplication carriers, respectively. The underlying brain structural diversity remains largely unknown. We systematically called CNVs in 38 cohorts from the large-scale ENIGMA-CNV collaboration and the UK Biobank and identified 28 1q21.1 distal deletion and 22 duplication carriers and 37,088 non-carriers (48% male) derived from 15 distinct magnetic resonance imaging scanner sites. With standardized methods, we compared subcortical and cortical brain measures (all) and cognitive performance (UK Biobank only) between carrier groups also testing for mediation of brain structure on cognition. We identified positive dosage effects of copy number on intracranial volume (ICV) and total cortical surface area, with the largest effects in frontal and cingulate cortices, and negative dosage effects on caudate and hippocampal volumes. The carriers displayed distinct cognitive deficit profiles in cognitive tasks from the UK Biobank with intermediate decreases in duplication carriers and somewhat larger in deletion carriers—the latter potentially mediated by ICV or cortical surface area. These results shed light on pathobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, by demonstrating gene dose effect on specific brain structures and effect on cognitive function.

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  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2021). Word segmentation cues in German child-directed speech: A corpus analysis. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830920979016.

    Abstract

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

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    supporting materials
  • Sutcliffe, D. J., Dinasarapu, A. R., Visser, J. E., Den Hoed, J., Seifar, F., Joshi, P., Ceballos-Picot, I., Sardar, T., Hess, E. J., Sun, Y. V., Wen, Z., Zwick, M. E., & Jinnah, H. A. (2021). Induced pluripotent stem cells from subjects with Lesch-Nyhan disease. Scientific Reports, 11: 8523. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-87955-9.

    Abstract

    Lesch-Nyhan disease (LND) is an inherited disorder caused by pathogenic variants in the HPRT1 gene, which encodes the purine recycling enzyme hypoxanthine–guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGprt). We generated 6 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from 3 individuals with LND, along with 6 control lines from 3 normal individuals. All 12 lines had the characteristics of pluripotent stem cells, as assessed by immunostaining for pluripotency markers, expression of pluripotency genes, and differentiation into the 3 primary germ cell layers. Gene expression profiling with RNAseq demonstrated significant heterogeneity among the lines. Despite this heterogeneity, several anticipated abnormalities were readily detectable across all LND lines, including reduced HPRT1 mRNA. Several unexpected abnormalities were also consistently detectable across the LND lines, including decreases in FAR2P1 and increases in RNF39. Shotgun proteomics also demonstrated several expected abnormalities in the LND lines, such as absence of HGprt protein. The proteomics study also revealed several unexpected abnormalities across the LND lines, including increases in GNAO1 decreases in NSE4A. There was a good but partial correlation between abnormalities revealed by the RNAseq and proteomics methods. Finally, functional studies demonstrated LND lines had no HGprt enzyme activity and resistance to the toxic pro-drug 6-thioguanine. Intracellular purines in the LND lines were normal, but they did not recycle hypoxanthine. These cells provide a novel resource to reveal insights into the relevance of heterogeneity among iPSC lines and applications for modeling LND.

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    supplementary material
  • Tilot, A. K., Khramtsova, E. A., Liang, D., Grasby, K. L., Jahanshad, N., Painter, J., Colodro-Conde, L., Bralten, J., Hibar, D. P., Lind, P. A., Liu, S., Brotman, S. M., Thompson, P. M., Medland, S. E., Macciardi, F., Stranger, B. E., Davis, L. K., Fisher, S. E., & Stein, J. L. (2021). The evolutionary history of common genetic variants influencing human cortical surface area. Cerebral Cortex, 31(4), 1873-1887. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa327.

    Abstract

    Structural brain changes along the lineage leading to modern Homo sapiens contributed to our distinctive cognitive and social abilities. However, the evolutionarily relevant molecular variants impacting key aspects of neuroanatomy are largely unknown. Here, we integrate evolutionary annotations of the genome at diverse timescales with common variant associations from large-scale neuroimaging genetic screens. We find that alleles with evidence of recent positive polygenic selection over the past 2000–3000 years are associated with increased surface area (SA) of the entire cortex, as well as specific regions, including those involved in spoken language and visual processing. Therefore, polygenic selective pressures impact the structure of specific cortical areas even over relatively recent timescales. Moreover, common sequence variation within human gained enhancers active in the prenatal cortex is associated with postnatal global SA. We show that such variation modulates the function of a regulatory element of the developmentally relevant transcription factor HEY2 in human neural progenitor cells and is associated with structural changes in the inferior frontal cortex. These results indicate that non-coding genomic regions active during prenatal cortical development are involved in the evolution of human brain structure and identify novel regulatory elements and genes impacting modern human brain structure.
  • Vágvölgyi, R., Bergström, K., Bulajić, A., Klatte, M., Fernandes, T., Grosche, M., Huettig, F., Rüsseler, J., & Lachmann, T. (2021). Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00074-9.

    Abstract

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

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  • Van de Geer, J. P., & Levelt, W. J. M. (1963). Detection of visual patterns disturbed by noise: An exploratory study. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15, 192-204. doi:10.1080/17470216308416324.

    Abstract

    An introductory study of the perception of stochastically specified events is reported. The initial problem was to determine whether the perceiver can split visual input data of this kind into random and determined components. The inability of subjects to do so with the stimulus material used (a filmlike sequence of dot patterns), led to the more general question of how subjects code this kind of visual material. To meet the difficulty of defining the subjects' responses, two experiments were designed. In both, patterns were presented as a rapid sequence of dots on a screen. The patterns were more or less disturbed by “noise,” i.e. the dots did not appear exactly at their proper places. In the first experiment the response was a rating on a semantic scale, in the second an identification from among a set of alternative patterns. The results of these experiments give some insight in the coding systems adopted by the subjects. First, noise appears to be detrimental to pattern recognition, especially to patterns with little spread. Second, this shows connections with the factors obtained from analysis of the semantic ratings, e.g. easily disturbed patterns show a large drop in the semantic regularity factor, when only a little noise is added.
  • Van Tiel, B., Deliens, G., Geelhand, P., Murillo Oosterwijk, A., & Kissine, M. (2021). Strategic deception in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51, 255-266. doi:10.1007/s10803-020-04525-0.

    Abstract

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is often associated with impaired perspective-taking skills. Deception is an important indicator of perspective-taking, and therefore may be thought to pose difficulties to people with ASD (e.g., Baron-Cohen in J Child Psychol Psychiatry 3:1141–1155, 1992). To test this hypothesis, we asked participants with and without ASD to play a computerised deception game. We found that participants with ASD were equally likely—and in complex cases of deception even more likely—to deceive and detect deception, and learned deception at a faster rate. However, participants with ASD initially deceived less frequently, and were slower at detecting deception. These results suggest that people with ASD readily engage in deception but may do so through conscious and effortful reasoning about other people’s perspectiv
  • Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Does neuronal recycling result in destructive competition? The influence of learning to read on the recognition of faces. Psychological Science, 32, 459-465. doi:10.1177/0956797620971652.

    Abstract

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

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  • Van Bergen, G., & Hogeweg, L. (2021). Managing interpersonal discourse expectations: a comparative analysis of contrastive discourse particles in Dutch. Linguistics, 59(2), 333-360. doi:10.1515/ling-2021-0020.

    Abstract

    In this article we investigate how speakers manage discourse expectations in dialogue by comparing the meaning and use of three Dutch discourse particles, i.e. wel, toch and eigenlijk, which all express a contrast between their host utterance and a discourse-based expectation. The core meanings of toch, wel and eigenlijk are formally distinguished on the basis of two intersubjective parameters: (i) whether the particle marks alignment or misalignment between speaker and addressee discourse beliefs, and (ii) whether the particle requires an assessment of the addressee’s representation of mutual discourse beliefs. By means of a quantitative corpus study, we investigate to what extent the intersubjective meaning distinctions between wel, toch and eigenlijk are reflected in statistical usage patterns across different social situations. Results suggest that wel, toch and eigenlijk are lexicalizations of distinct generalized politeness strategies when expressing contrast in social interaction. Our findings call for an interdisciplinary approach to discourse particles in order to enhance our understanding of their functions in language.
  • Van Paridon, J., & Thompson, B. (2021). subs2vec: Word embeddings from subtitles in 55 languages. Behavior Research Methods, 53(2), 629-655. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01406-3.

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a novel collection of word embeddings, numerical representations of lexical semantics, in 55 languages, trained on a large corpus of pseudo-conversational speech transcriptions from television shows and movies. The embeddings were trained on the OpenSubtitles corpus using the fastText implementation of the skipgram algorithm. Performance comparable with (and in some cases exceeding) embeddings trained on non-conversational (Wikipedia) text is reported on standard benchmark evaluation datasets. A novel evaluation method of particular relevance to psycholinguists is also introduced: prediction of experimental lexical norms in multiple languages. The models, as well as code for reproducing the models and all analyses reported in this paper (implemented as a user-friendly Python package), are freely available at: https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec.

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    https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec
  • Vega-Mendoza, M., Pickering, M. J., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2021). Concurrent use of animacy and event-knowledge during comprehension: Evidence from event-related potentials. Neuropsychologia, 152: 107724. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107724.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

    As they develop into mature speakers of their native language, infants must not only learn words but also the sounds that make up those words. To do so, they must strike a balance between accepting speaker dependent variation (e.g. mood, voice, accent), but appropriately rejecting variation when it (potentially) changes a word's meaning (e.g. cat vs. hat). This meta-analysis focuses on studies investigating infants' ability to detect mispronunciations in familiar words, or mispronunciation sensitivity. Our goal was to evaluate the development of infants' phonological representations for familiar words as well as explore the role of experimental manipulations related to theoretical questions and analysis choices. The results show that although infants are sensitive to mispronunciations, they still accept these altered forms as labels for target objects. Interestingly, this ability is not modulated by age or vocabulary size, suggesting that a mature understanding of native language phonology may be present in infants from an early age, possibly before the vocabulary explosion. These results also support several theoretical assumptions made in the literature, such as sensitivity to mispronunciation size and position of the mispronunciation. We also shed light on the impact of data analysis choices that may lead to different conclusions regarding the development of infants' mispronunciation sensitivity. Our paper concludes with recommendations for improved practice in testing infants' word and sentence processing on-line.
  • Wilkinson, G. S., Adams, D. M., Haghani, A., Lu, A. T., Zoller, J., Breeze, C. E., Arnold, B. D., Ball, H. C., Carter, G. G., Cooper, L. N., Dechmann, D. K. N., Devanna, P., Fasel, N. J., Galazyuk, A. V., Günther, L., Hurme, E., Jones, G., Knörnschild, M., Lattenkamp, E. Z., Li, C. Z. and 14 moreWilkinson, G. S., Adams, D. M., Haghani, A., Lu, A. T., Zoller, J., Breeze, C. E., Arnold, B. D., Ball, H. C., Carter, G. G., Cooper, L. N., Dechmann, D. K. N., Devanna, P., Fasel, N. J., Galazyuk, A. V., Günther, L., Hurme, E., Jones, G., Knörnschild, M., Lattenkamp, E. Z., Li, C. Z., Mayer, F., Reinhardt, J. A., Medellin, R. A., Nagy, M., Pope, B., Power, M. L., Ransome, R. D., Teeling, E. C., Vernes, S. C., Zamora-Mejías, D., Zhang, J., Faure, P. A., Greville, L. J., & Horvath, S. (2021). DNA methylation predicts age and provides insight into exceptional longevity of bats. Nature Communications, 12: 1615. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-21900-2.

    Abstract

    Exceptionally long-lived species, including many bats, rarely show overt signs of aging, making it difficult to determine why species differ in lifespan. Here, we use DNA methylation (DNAm) profiles from 712 known-age bats, representing 26 species, to identify epigenetic changes associated with age and longevity. We demonstrate that DNAm accurately predicts chronological age. Across species, longevity is negatively associated with the rate of DNAm change at age-associated sites. Furthermore, analysis of several bat genomes reveals that hypermethylated age- and longevity-associated sites are disproportionately located in promoter regions of key transcription factors (TF) and enriched for histone and chromatin features associated with transcriptional regulation. Predicted TF binding site motifs and enrichment analyses indicate that age-related methylation change is influenced by developmental processes, while longevity-related DNAm change is associated with innate immunity or tumorigenesis genes, suggesting that bat longevity results from augmented immune response and cancer suppression.

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  • Willems, R. M., & Peelen, M. V. (2021). How context changes the neural basis of perception and language. iScience, 24(5): 102392. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2021.102392.

    Abstract

    Cognitive processes—from basic sensory analysis to language understanding—are typically contextualized. While the importance of considering context for understanding cognition has long been recognized in psychology and philosophy, it has not yet had much impact on cognitive neuroscience research, where cognition is often studied in decontextualized paradigms. Here, we present examples of recent studies showing that context changes the neural basis of diverse cognitive processes, including perception, attention, memory, and language. Within the domains of perception and language, we review neuroimaging results showing that context interacts with stimulus processing, changes activity in classical perception and language regions, and recruits additional brain regions that contribute crucially to naturalistic perception and language. We discuss how contextualized cognitive neuroscience will allow for discovering new principles of the mind and brain.
  • Zhong, S., Wei, L., Zhao, C., Yang, L., Di, Z., Francks, C., & Gong, G. (2021). Interhemispheric relationship of genetic influence on human brain connectivity. Cerebral Cortex, 31(1), 77-88. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa207.

    Abstract

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

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