Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 4391
  • Bauer, B. L. M. (in press). Language contact & language borrowing. Compound verb forms in the Old French translation of the Gospel of St. Mark. Belgian Journal of Linguistics.
  • Bauer, B. L. M. (in press). Language sources and the reconstruction of dead languages. Discrepancies and evolution in Old French grammar. Diachronica.
  • Byers-Heinlein, K., Bergmann, C., Davies, C., Frank, M., Hamlin, J. K., Kline, M., Kominsky, J., Kosie, J., Lew-Williams, C., Liu, L., Mastroberardino, M., Singh, L., Waddell, C. P. G., Zettersten, M., & Soderstrom, M. (in press). Building a collaborative Psychological Science: Lessons learned from ManyBabies 1. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne.

    Abstract

    The field of infancy research faces a difficult challenge: some questions require samples that are simply too large for any one lab to recruit and test. ManyBabies aims to address this problem by forming large-scale collaborations on key theoretical questions in developmental science, while promoting the uptake of Open Science practices. Here, we look back on the first project completed under the ManyBabies umbrella – ManyBabies 1 – which tested the development of infant-directed speech preference. Our goal is to share the lessons learned over the course of the project and to articulate our vision for the role of large-scale collaborations in the field. First, we consider the decisions made in scaling up experimental research for a collaboration involving 100+ researchers and 70+ labs. Next, we discuss successes and challenges over the course of the project, including: protocol design and implementation, data analysis, organizational structures and collaborative workflows, securing funding, and encouraging broad participation in the project. Finally, we discuss the benefits we see both in ongoing ManyBabies projects and in future large-scale collaborations in general, with a particular eye towards developing best practices and increasing growth and diversity in infancy research and psychological science in general. Throughout the paper, we include first-hand narrative experiences, in order to illustrate the perspectives of researchers playing different roles within the project. While this project focused on the unique challenges of infant research, many of the insights we gained can be applied to large-scale collaborations across the broader field of psychology.
  • Cutter, M. G., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (in press). Capitalization interacts with syntactic complexity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether readers use the low-level cue of proper noun capitalization in the parafovea to infer syntactic category, and whether this results in an early update of the representation of a sentence’s syntactic structure. Participants read sentences containing either a subject relative or object relative clause, in which the relative clause’s overt argument was a proper noun (e.g., The tall lanky guard who alerted Charlie/Charlie alerted to the danger was young) across three experiments. In Experiment 1 these sentences were presented in normal sentence casing or entirely in upper case. In Experiment 2 participants received either valid or invalid parafoveal previews of the relative clause. In Experiment 3 participants viewed relative clauses in only normal conditions. We hypothesized that we would observe relative clause effects (i.e., inflated fixation times for object relative clauses) while readers were still fixated on the word who, if readers use capitalization to infer a parafoveal word’s syntactic class. This would constitute a syntactic parafoveal-on-foveal effect. Furthermore, we hypothesised that this effect should be influenced by sentence casing in Experiment 1 (with no cue for syntactic category being available in upper case sentences) but not by parafoveal preview validity of the target words. We observed syntactic parafoveal-on-foveal effects in Experiment 1 and 3, and a Bayesian analysis of the combined data from all three experiments. These effects seemed to be influenced more by noun capitalization than lexical processing. We discuss our findings in relation to models of eye movement control and sentence processing theories.
  • Cychosz, M., Romeo, R., Soderstrom, M., Scaff, C., Ganek, H., Cristia, A., Casillas, M., De Barbaro, K., Bang, J. Y., & Weisleder, A. (in press). Longform recordings of everyday life: Ethics for best practices. Behavior Research Methods.

    Abstract

    Recent advances in large-scale data storage and processing offer unprecedented opportunities for behavioral scientists to collect and analyze naturalistic data, including from under-represented groups. Audio data, particularly real-world audio recordings, are of particular interest to behavioral scientists because they provide high-fidelity access to subtle aspects of daily life and social interactions. However, these methodological advances pose novel risks to research participants and communities. In this article, we outline the benefits and challenges associated with collecting, analyzing, and sharing multi-hour audio recording data. Guided by the principles of autonomy, privacy, beneficence, and justice, we propose a set of ethical guidelines for the use of longform audio recordings in behavioral research. This article is also accompanied by an Open Science Framework Ethics Repository that includes informed consent resources such as frequent participant concerns and sample consent forms.
  • Defina, R. (in press). Tense, aspect, and mood in Avatime. Afrika und Übersee.

    Abstract

    The Ghana-Togo Mountain languages are a typologically distinct group of languages within the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Until recently, they have received very little documentary attention, and are still greatly under-described. Where there is information regarding the tense, aspect, and mood system, Ghana-Togo Mountain languages are described as tense and aspect prominent. In contrast, Kwa languages are typically aspect and mood prominent, with little to no grammatical tense marking. Is the apparent greater emphasis on tense one of the typological features that separates the Ghana- Togo Mountain languages from the other Kwa languages? Or has tense been overrepresented due to the lack of description? In the case of Avatime, it is the latter. Previous accounts have described Avatime with a strong focus on tense. However, when the semantics are considered in more detail, we see that none of the forms contains an inherent specification for tense. While there is often a default interpretation in the past, present or future, this default can easily be overridden. Thus, Avatime has a typical Kwa system with a focus on aspect and mood and no grammatical tense.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Resource-rationality beyond individual minds: the case of interactive language use. Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

    Abstract

    Resource-rational approaches offer much promise for understanding human cognition, especially if they can reach beyond the confines of individual minds. Language allows people to transcend individual resource limitations by augmenting computation and enabling distributed cognition. Interactive language use, an environment where social rational agents routinely deal with resource constraints together, offers a natural laboratory to test resource-rationality in the wild.
  • Dingemanse, M., Perlman, M., & Perniss, P. (in press). Construals of iconicity: Experimental approaches to form-meaning resemblances in language. Language and Cognition.

    Abstract

    While speculations on form-meaning resemblances in language go back millennia, the experimental study of iconicity is only about a century old. Here we take stock of experimental work on iconicity and present a double special issue with a diverse set of new contributions. We contextualise the work by introducing a typology of approaches to iconicity in language. Some approaches construe iconicity as a discrete property that is either present or absent; others treat it as involving semiotic relationships that come in kinds; and yet others see it as a gradient substance that comes in degrees. We show the benefits and limitations that come with each of these construals and stress the importance of developing accounts that can fluently switch between them. With operationalisations of iconicity that are well-defined yet flexible enough to deal with differences in tasks, modalities, and levels of analysis, experimental research on iconicity is well-equipped to contribute to a comprehensive science of language.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Between sound and speech: Liminal signs in interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction.

    Abstract

    When people talk, they recruit a wide range of expressive devices for interactional work, from sighs, sniffs, clicks, and whistles to other conduct that borders on the linguistic. These resources represent some of the more elusive yet no less powerful aspects of the interactional machinery as they are used in the management of turn and sequence and the marking of stance and affect. Phenomena long assumed to be beyond the purview of linguistic inquiry emerge as systematically deployed practices whose ambiguous degree of control and convention allows participants to carry out subtle interactional work without committing to specific words. While these resources have been characterised as non-lexical, non-verbal, or non-conventional, I propose they are unified in their liminality: they work well precisely because they equivocate between sound and speech. The empirical study of liminal signs shows the promise of sequential analysis for building a science of language on interactional foundations.
  • Drude, S., Awete, W., & Aweti, A. (in press). A ortografia da língua Awetí. Revista de estudos e pesquisas.
  • Hammarström, H., & Parkvall, M. (in press). Basic Constituent Order in Pidgin and Creole Languages: Inheritance or Universals? Journal of Language Contact.
  • Hildebrand, M. S., Jackson, V. E., Scerri, T. S., Van Reyk, O., Coleman, M., Braden, R., Turner, S., Rigbye, K. A., Boys, A., Barton, S., Webster, R., Fahey, M., Saunders, K., Parry-Fielder, B., Paxton, G., Hayman, M., Coman, D., Goel, H., Baxter, A., Ma, A. and 11 moreHildebrand, M. S., Jackson, V. E., Scerri, T. S., Van Reyk, O., Coleman, M., Braden, R., Turner, S., Rigbye, K. A., Boys, A., Barton, S., Webster, R., Fahey, M., Saunders, K., Parry-Fielder, B., Paxton, G., Hayman, M., Coman, D., Goel, H., Baxter, A., Ma, A., Davis, N., Reilly, S., Delatycki, M., Liégeois, F. J., Connelly, A., Gecz, J., Fisher, S. E., Amor, D. J., Scheffer, I. E., Bahlo, M., & Morgan, A. T. (in press). Severe childhood speech disorder: Gene discovery highlights transcriptional dysregulation. Neurology.
  • Hubers, F., Redl, T., De Vos, H., Reinarz, L., & De Hoop, H. (in press). Processing prescriptively incorrect comparative particles: Evidence from sentence-matching and eye-tracking. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00186.

    Abstract

    Speakers of a language sometimes use particular constructions which violate prescriptive grammar rules. Despite their prescriptive ungrammaticality, they can occur rather frequently. One such example is the comparative construction in Dutch and similarly in German, where the equative particle is used in comparative constructions instead of the prescriptively correct comparative particle (Dutch beter als Jan and German besser wie Jan ‘lit. better as John’). From a theoretical linguist’s point of view, these so-called grammatical norm violations are perfectly grammatical, even though they are not part of the language’s prescriptive grammar. In a series of three experiments using sentence-matching and eye-tracking methodology, we investigated whether grammatical norm violations are processed as truly grammatical, as truly ungrammatical, or whether they fall in between these two. We hypothesized that the latter would be the case. We analyzed our data using linear mixed effects models in order to capture possible individual differences. The results of the sentence-matching experiments, which were conducted in both Dutch and German, showed that the grammatical norm violation patterns with ungrammatical sentences in both languages. Our hypothesis was therefore not borne out. However, using the more sensitive eye-tracking method on Dutch speakers only, we found that the ungrammatical alternative leads to higher reading times than the grammatical norm violation. We also found significant individual variation regarding this very effect. We furthermore replicated the processing difference between the grammatical norm violation and the prescriptively correct variant. In summary, we conclude that while the results of the more sensitive eye-tracking experiment suggest that grammatical norm violations are not processed on a par with ungrammatical sentences, the results of all three experiments clearly show that grammatical norm violations cannot be considered grammatical, either.
  • Iacozza, S., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (in press). In-group bias influences the level of detail of speaker-specific information encoded in novel lexical representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
  • Jongman, S. R., Khoe, Y. H., & Hintz, F. (in press). Vocabulary size influences spontaneous speech in native language users: Validating the use of automatic speech recognition in individual differences research. Language and Speech.

    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.
  • The ManyBabies Consortium (in press). Quantifying sources of variability in infancy research using the infant-directed speech preference. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.
  • Martin, A. E., & Baggio, G. (in press). Modeling meaning composition from formalism to mechanism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences.
  • Nielsen, A., & Dingemanse, M. (in press). Iconicity in word learning and beyond: A critical review. Language and Speech.

    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 iconicity influences learning at the level of individual iconic lexical items) and general learning enhancement (where iconicity 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 number 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 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 small or diffuse in nature, on balance, iconicity emerges as a vital aspect of language.
  • O’Meara, C., Kung, S. S., & Majid, A. (in press). The challenge of olfactory ideophones: Reconsidering ineffability from the Totonac-Tepehua perspective. International Journal of American Linguistics.
  • Sumer, B., & Ozyurek, A. (in press). No effects of modality in development of locative expressions of space in signing and speaking children. Journal of Child Language.

    Abstract

    Linguistic expressions of locative spatial relations in sign languages are mostly visually- motivated representations of space involving mapping of entities and spatial relations between them onto the hands and the signing space. These are also morphologically complex forms. It is debated whether modality-specific aspects of spatial expressions modulate spatial language development differently in signing compared to speaking children. In a picture description task, we compared the use of locative expressions for containment, support and occlusion relations by deaf children acquiring Turkish Sign Language and hearing children acquiring Turkish (3;5-9;11 years). Unlike previous reports suggesting a boosting effect of iconicity, and / or a hindering effect of morphological complexity of the locative forms in sign languages, our results show similar developmental patterns for signing and speaking children's acquisition of these forms. Our results suggest the primacy of cognitive development guiding the acquisition of locative expressions by speaking and signing children.
  • Tsuji, S., Cristia, A., Frank, M. C., & Bergmann, C. (in press). Addressing publication bias in meta-analysis: Empirical findings from community-augmented meta-analyses of infant language development. Zeitschrift für Psychologie.
  • Van Bergen, G., & Hogeweg, L. (in press). Managing interpersonal discourse expectations: a comparative analysis of contrastive discourse particles in Dutch. Linguistics.
  • Wnuk, E., Laophairoj, R., & Majid, A. (in press). Smell terms are not rara: A semantic investigation of odor vocabulary in Thai. Linguistics.
  • Barthel, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2020). Next speakers plan word forms in overlap with the incoming turn: Evidence from gaze-contingent switch task performance. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1716030.

    Abstract

    To ensure short gaps between turns in conversation, next speakers regularly start planning their utterance in overlap with the incoming turn. Three experiments investigate which stages of utterance planning are executed in overlap. E1 establishes effects of associative and phonological relatedness of pictures and words in a switch-task from picture naming to lexical decision. E2 focuses on effects of phonological relatedness and investigates potential shifts in the time-course of production planning during background speech. E3 required participants to verbally answer questions as a base task. In critical trials, however, participants switched to visual lexical decision just after they began planning their answer. The task-switch was time-locked to participants' gaze for response planning. Results show that word form encoding is done as early as possible and not postponed until the end of the incoming turn. Hence, planning a response during the incoming turn is executed at least until word form activation.

    Supplementary material

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  • De Boer, B., Thompson, B., Ravignani, A., & Boeckx, C. (2020). Evolutionary dynamics do not motivate a single-mutant theory of human language. Scientific Reports, 10: 451. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-57235-8.

    Abstract

    One of the most controversial hypotheses in cognitive science is the Chomskyan evolutionary conjecture that language arose instantaneously in humans through a single mutation. Here we analyze the evolutionary dynamics implied by this hypothesis, which has never been formalized before. The hypothesis supposes the emergence and fixation of a single mutant (capable of the syntactic operation Merge) during a narrow historical window as a result of frequency-independent selection under a huge fitness advantage in a population of an effective size no larger than ~15 000 individuals. We examine this proposal by combining diffusion analysis and extreme value theory to derive a probabilistic formulation of its dynamics. We find that although a macro-mutation is much more likely to go to fixation if it occurs, it is much more unlikely a priori than multiple mutations with smaller fitness effects. The most likely scenario is therefore one where a medium number of mutations with medium fitness effects accumulate. This precise analysis of the probability of mutations occurring and going to fixation has not been done previously in the context of the evolution of language. Our results cast doubt on any suggestion that evolutionary reasoning provides an independent rationale for a single-mutant theory of language.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Bosker, H. R., & Cooke, M. (2020). Enhanced amplitude modulations contribute to the Lombard intelligibility benefit: Evidence from the Nijmegen Corpus of Lombard Speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147: 721. doi:10.1121/10.0000646.

    Abstract

    Speakers adjust their voice when talking in noise, which is known as Lombard speech. These acoustic adjustments facilitate speech comprehension in noise relative to plain speech (i.e., speech produced in quiet). However, exactly which characteristics of Lombard speech drive this intelligibility benefit in noise remains unclear. This study assessed the contribution of enhanced amplitude modulations to the Lombard speech intelligibility benefit by demonstrating that (1) native speakers of Dutch in the Nijmegen Corpus of Lombard Speech (NiCLS) produce more pronounced amplitude modulations in noise vs. in quiet; (2) more enhanced amplitude modulations correlate positively with intelligibility in a speech-in-noise perception experiment; (3) transplanting the amplitude modulations from Lombard speech onto plain speech leads to an intelligibility improvement, suggesting that enhanced amplitude modulations in Lombard speech contribute towards intelligibility in noise. Results are discussed in light of recent neurobiological models of speech perception with reference to neural oscillators phase-locking to the amplitude modulations in speech, guiding the processing of speech.
  • Burghoorn, F., Dingemanse, M., Van Lier, R., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2020). The relation between the degree of synaesthesia, autistic traits, and local/global visual perception. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50, 12-29. doi:10.1007/s10803-019-04222-7.

    Abstract

    In individuals with synaesthesia specific sensory stimulation leads to unusual concurrent perceptions in the same or a different modality. Recent studies have demonstrated a high co-occurrence between synaesthesia and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition also characterized by altered perception. A potentially shared characteristic of synaesthesia and ASD is a bias towards local (detail-focussed) perception. We investigated whether a bias towards local perception is indeed shared between synaesthesia and ASD. In a neurotypical population, we studied the relation between the degree of autistic traits (measured by the AQ) and the degree of grapheme-colour synaesthesia (measured by a consistency task), as well as whether both are related to a local bias in tasks assessing local/global visual perception. A positive correlation between total AQ scores and the degree of synaesthesia was found. Our study extends previous studies that found a high ASD-synaesthesia co-occurrence in clinical populations. Consistent with the hypothesized local perceptual bias in ASD, scores on the AQ-attention to detail subscale were related to increased performance on an Embedded Figures Task (EFT), and we found evidence for a relation to reduced susceptibility to visual illusions. We found no relation between autistic traits and local visual perception in a motion coherence task (MCT). Also, no relation between synaesthesia and local visual perception was found, although a reduced susceptibility to visual illusions resembled the results obtained for AQ-atttention to detail subscale. A suggested explanation for the absence of a relationship between the degree of synaesthesia and a local bias is that a possible local bias might be more pronounced in supra-threshold synaesthetes (compared to neurotypicals).
  • Carrion Castillo, A., Pepe, A., Kong, X., Fisher, S. E., Mazoyer, B., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N., Crivello, F., & Francks, C. (2020). Genetic effects on planum temporale asymmetry and their limited relevance to neurodevelopmental disorders, intelligence or educational attainment. Cortex, 124, 137-153. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2019.11.006.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have suggested that altered asymmetry of the planum temporale (PT) is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, including dyslexia, schizophrenia, and autism. Shared genetic factors have been suggested to link PT asymmetry to these disorders. In a dataset of unrelated subjects from the general population (UK Biobank, N= 18,057), we found that PT volume asymmetry had a significant heritability of roughly 14%. In genome-wide association analysis, two loci were significantly associated with PT asymmetry, including a coding polymorphism within the gene ITIH5 that is predicted to affect the protein’s function and to be deleterious (rs41298373, P=2.01×10−15), and a locus that affects the expression of the genes BOK and DTYMK (rs7420166, P=7.54×10-10). DTYMK showed left-right asymmetry of mRNA expression in post mortem PT tissue. Cortex-wide mapping of these SNP effects revealed influences on asymmetry that went somewhat beyond the PT. Using publicly available genome-wide association statistics from large-scale studies, we saw no significant genetic correlations of PT asymmetry with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, educational attainment or intelligence. Of the top two individual loci associated with PT asymmetry, rs41298373 showed a tentative association with intelligence (unadjusted P=0.025), while the locus at BOK/DTYMK showed tentative association with educational attainment (unadjusted Ps<0.05). These findings provide novel insights into the genetic contributions to human brain asymmetry, but do not support a substantial polygenic association of PT asymmetry with cognitive variation and mental disorders, as far as can be discerned with current sample sizes.

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  • Chan, R. W., Alday, P. M., Zou-Williams, L., Lushington, K., Schlesewsky, M., Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I., & Immink, M. A. (2020). Focused-attention meditation increases cognitive control during motor sequence performance: Evidence from the N2 cortical evoked potential. Behavioural Brain Research. Advance online publication, 384: 112536. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2020.112536.

    Abstract

    Previous work found that single-session focused attention meditation (FAM) enhanced motor sequence learning through increased cognitive control as a mechanistic action, although electrophysiological correlates of sequence learning performance following FAM were not investigated. We measured the persistent frontal N2 event-related potential (ERP) that is closely related to cognitive control processes and its ability to predict behavioural measures. Twenty-nine participants were randomised to one of three conditions reflecting the level of FAM experienced prior to a serial reaction time task (SRTT): 21 sessions of FAM (FAM21, N = 12), a single FAM session (FAM1, N = 9) or no preceding FAM control (Control, N = 8). Continuous 64-channel EEG were recorded during SRTT and N2 amplitudes for correct trials were extracted. Component amplitude, regions of interests, and behavioural outcomes were compared using mixed effects regression models between groups. FAM21 exhibited faster reaction time performances in majority of the learning blocks compared to FAM1 and Control. FAM21 also demonstrated a significantly more pronounced N2 over majority of anterior and central regions of interests during SRTT compared to the other groups. When N2 amplitudes were modelled against general learning performance, FAM21 showed the greatest rate of amplitude decline over anterior and central regions. The combined results suggest that FAM training provided greater cognitive control enhancement for improved general performance, and less pronounced effects for sequence-specific learning performance compared to the other groups. Importantly, FAM training facilitates dynamic modulation of cognitive control: lower levels of general learning performance was supported by greater levels of activation, whilst higher levels of general learning exhibited less activation.

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  • Coopmans, C. W., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2020). Dissociating activation and integration of discourse referents: Evidence from ERPs and oscillations. Cortex, 126, 83-106. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2019.12.028.

    Abstract

    A key challenge in understanding stories and conversations is the comprehension of ‘anaphora’, words that refer back to previously mentioned words or concepts (‘antecedents’). In psycholinguistic theories, anaphor comprehension involves the initial activation of the antecedent and its subsequent integration into the unfolding representation of the narrated event. A recent proposal suggests that these processes draw upon the brain’s recognition memory and language networks, respectively, and may be dissociable in patterns of neural oscillatory synchronization (Nieuwland & Martin, 2017). We addressed this proposal in an electroencephalogram (EEG) study with pre-registered data acquisition and analyses, using event-related potentials (ERPs) and neural oscillations. Dutch participants read two-sentence mini stories containing proper names, which were repeated or new (ease of activation) and semantically coherent or incoherent with the preceding discourse (ease of integration). Repeated names elicited lower N400 and Late Positive Component amplitude than new names, and also an increase in theta-band (4-7 Hz) synchronization, which was largest around 240-450 ms after name onset. Discourse-coherent names elicited an increase in gamma-band (60-80 Hz) synchronization compared to discourse-incoherent names. This effect was largest around 690-1000 ms after name onset and exploratory beamformer analysis suggested a left frontal source. We argue that the initial activation and subsequent discourse-level integration of referents can be dissociated with event-related EEG activity, and are associated with respectively theta- and gamma-band activity. These findings further establish the link between memory and language through neural oscillations.

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  • Dingemanse, M., & Thompson, B. (2020). Playful iconicity: Structural markedness underlies the relation between funniness and iconicity. Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/langcog.2019.49.

    Abstract

    Words like ‘waddle’, ‘flop’ and ‘zigzag’ combine playful connotations with iconic form-meaning resemblances. Here we propose that structural markedness may be a common factor underlying perceptions of playfulness and iconicity. Using collected and estimated lexical ratings covering a total of over 70,000 English words, we assess the robustness of this assocation. We identify cues of phonotactic complexity that covary with funniness and iconicity ratings and that, we propose, serve as metacommunicative signals to draw attention to words as playful and performative. To assess the generalisability of the findings we develop a method to estimate lexical ratings from distributional semantics and apply it to a dataset 20 times the size of the original set of human ratings. The method can be used more generally to extend coverage of lexical ratings. We find that it reliably reproduces correlations between funniness and iconicity as well as cues of structural markedness, though it also amplifies biases present in the human ratings. Our study shows that the playful and the poetic are part of the very texture of the lexicon.
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2020). Individual differences in lexical processing efficiency and vocabulary in toddlers: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Advance online publication, 192: 104781. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104781.

    Abstract

    Research on infants’ online lexical processing by Fernald, Perfors, and Marchman (2006) revealed substantial individual differences that are related to vocabulary development, such that infants with better lexical processing efficiency show greater vocabulary growth across time. Although it is clear that individual differences in lexical processing efficiency exist and are meaningful, the theoretical nature of lexical processing efficiency and its relation to vocabulary size is less clear. In the current study, we asked two questions: (a) Is lexical processing efficiency better conceptualized as a central processing capacity or as an emergent capacity reflecting a collection of word-specific capacities? and (b) Is there evidence for a causal role for lexical processing efficiency in early vocabulary development? In the study, 120 infants were tested on a measure of lexical processing at 18, 21, and 24 months, and their vocabulary was measured via parent report. Structural equation modeling of the 18-month time point data revealed that both theoretical constructs represented in the first question above (a) fit the data. A set of regression analyses on the longitudinal data revealed little evidence for a causal effect of lexical processing on vocabulary but revealed a significant effect of vocabulary size on lexical processing efficiency early in development. Overall, the results suggest that lexical processing efficiency is a stable construct in infancy that may reflect the structure of the developing lexicon.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2020). Visual context constrains language-mediated anticipatory eye movements. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 458-467. doi:10.1177/1747021819881615.

    Abstract

    Contemporary accounts of anticipatory language processing assume that individuals predict upcoming information at multiple levels of representation. Research investigating language-mediated anticipatory eye gaze typically assumes that linguistic input restricts the domain of subsequent reference (visual target objects). Here, we explored the converse case: Can visual input restrict the dynamics of anticipatory language processing? To this end, we recorded participants’ eye movements as they listened to sentences in which an object was predictable based on the verb’s selectional restrictions (“The man peels a banana”). While listening, participants looked at different types of displays: The target object (banana) was either present or it was absent. On target-absent trials, the displays featured objects that had a similar visual shape as the target object (canoe) or objects that were semantically related to the concepts invoked by the target (monkey). Each trial was presented in a long preview version, where participants saw the displays for approximately 1.78 seconds before the verb was heard (pre-verb condition), and a short preview version, where participants saw the display approximately 1 second after the verb had been heard (post-verb condition), 750 ms prior to the spoken target onset. Participants anticipated the target objects in both conditions. Importantly, robust evidence for predictive looks to objects related to the (absent) target objects in visual shape and semantics was found in the post-verb but not in the pre-verb condition. These results suggest that visual information can restrict language-mediated anticipatory gaze and delineate theoretical accounts of predictive processing in the visual world.

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  • Kidd, E., & Donnelly, S. (2020). Individual differences in first language acquisition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6, 319-340. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011619-030326.

    Abstract

    Humans vary in almost every dimension imaginable, and language is no exception. In this article, we review the past research that has focused on individual differences (IDs) in first language acquisition. We first consider how different theoretical traditions in language acquisition treat IDs, and we argue that a focus on IDs is important given its potential to reveal the developmental dynamics and architectural constraints of the linguistic system. We then review IDs research that has examined variation in children’s linguistic input, early speech perception, and vocabulary and grammatical development. In each case, we observe systematic and meaningful variation, such that variation in one domain (e.g., early auditory and speech processing) has meaningful developmental consequences for development in higher-order domains (e.g., vocabulary). The research suggests a high degree of integration across the linguistic system, in which development across multiple linguistic domains is tightly coupled.
  • Kong, X., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N., Joliot, M., Fedorenko, E., Liu, J., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2020). Gene expression correlates of the cortical network underlying sentence processing. Neurobiology of Language. Advance publication. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00004.

    Abstract

    A pivotal question in modern neuroscience is which genes regulate brain circuits that underlie cognitive functions. However, the field is still in its infancy. Here we report an integrated investigation of the high-level language network (i.e., sentence processing network) in the human cerebral cortex, combining regional gene expression profiles, task fMRI, large-scale neuroimaging meta-analysis, and resting-state functional network approaches. We revealed reliable gene expression-functional network correlations using three different network definition strategies, and identified a consensus set of genes related to connectivity within the sentence-processing network. The genes involved showed enrichment for neural development and actin-related functions, as well as association signals with autism, which can involve disrupted language functioning. Our findings help elucidate the molecular basis of the brain’s infrastructure for language. The integrative approach described here will be useful to study other complex cognitive traits.
  • Levelt, W. J. M. (2020). On becoming a physicist of mind. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6(1), 1-23. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011619-030256.

    Abstract

    In 1976, the German Max Planck Society established a new research enterprise in psycholinguistics, which became the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I was fortunate enough to be invited to direct this institute. It enabled me, with my background in visual and auditory psychophysics and the theory of formal grammars and automata, to develop a long-term chronometric endeavor to dissect the process of speaking. It led, among other work, to my book Speaking (1989) and to my research team's article in Brain and Behavioral Sciences “A Theory of Lexical Access in Speech Production” (1999). When I later became president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, I helped initiate the Women for Science research project of the Inter Academy Council, a project chaired by my physicist sister at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As an emeritus I published a comprehensive History of Psycholinguistics (2013). As will become clear, many people inspired and joined me in these undertakings.
  • Lingwood, J., Levy, R., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Barriers and solutions to participation in family-based education interventions. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 23(2), 185-198. doi:10.1080/13645579.2019.1645377.

    Abstract

    The fact that many sub-populations do not take part in research, especially participants fromlower socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds, is a serious problem in education research. Toincrease the participation of such groups we must discover what social, economic andpractical factors prevent participation, and how to overcome these barriers. In the currentpaper, we review the literature on this topic, before describing a case study that demonstratesfour potential solutions to four barriers to participation in a shared reading intervention forfamilies from lower SES backgrounds. We discuss the implications of our findings forfamily-based interventions more generally, and the difficulty of balancing strategies toencourage participation with adhering to the methodological integrity of a research study

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    supplemental material
  • Macuch Silva, V., Holler, J., Ozyurek, A., & Roberts, S. G. (2020). Multimodality and the origin of a novel communication system in face-to-face interaction. Royal Society Open Science, 7: 182056. doi:10.1098/rsos.182056.

    Abstract

    Face-to-face communication is multimodal at its core: it consists of a combination of vocal and visual signalling. However, current evidence suggests that, in the absence of an established communication system, visual signalling, especially in the form of visible gesture, is a more powerful form of communication than vocalisation, and therefore likely to have played a primary role in the emergence of human language. This argument is based on experimental evidence of how vocal and visual modalities (i.e., gesture) are employed to communicate about familiar concepts when participants cannot use their existing languages. To investigate this further, we introduce an experiment where pairs of participants performed a referential communication task in which they described unfamiliar stimuli in order to reduce reliance on conventional signals. Visual and auditory stimuli were described in three conditions: using visible gestures only, using non-linguistic vocalisations only and given the option to use both (multimodal communication). The results suggest that even in the absence of conventional signals, gesture is a more powerful mode of communication compared to vocalisation, but that there are also advantages to multimodality compared to using gesture alone. Participants with an option to produce multimodal signals had comparable accuracy to those using only gesture, but gained an efficiency advantage. The analysis of the interactions between participants showed that interactants developed novel communication systems for unfamiliar stimuli by deploying different modalities flexibly to suit their needs and by taking advantage of multimodality when required.
  • Mickan, A., & Lemhöfer, K. (2020). Tracking syntactic conflict between languages over the course of L2 acquisition: A cross-sectional event-related potential study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01528.

    Abstract

    One challenge of learning a foreign language (L2) in adulthood is the mastery of syntactic structures that are implemented differently in L2 and one's native language (L1). Here, we asked how L2 speakers learn to process syntactic constructions that are in direct conflict between L1 and L2, in comparison to structures without such a conflict. To do so, we measured EEG during sentence reading in three groups of German learners of Dutch with different degrees of L2 experience (from 3 to more than 18 months of L2 immersion) as well as a control group of Dutch native speakers. They read grammatical and ungrammatical Dutch sentences that, in the conflict condition, contained a structure with opposing word orders in Dutch and German (sentence-final double infinitives) and, in the no-conflict condition, a structure for which word order is identical in Dutch and German (subordinate clause inversion). Results showed, first, that beginning learners showed N400-like signatures instead of the expected P600 for both types of violations, suggesting that, in the very early stages of learning, different neurocognitive processes are employed compared with native speakers, regardless of L1–L2 similarity. In contrast, both advanced and intermediate learners already showed native-like P600 signatures for the no-conflict sentences. However, their P600 signatures were significantly delayed in processing the conflicting structure, even though behavioral performance was on a native level for both these groups and structures. These findings suggest that L1–L2 word order conflicts clearly remain an obstacle to native-like processing, even for advanced L2 learners.
  • Peeters, D. (2020). Bilingual switching between languages and listeners: Insights from immersive virtual reality. Cognition, 195: 104107. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104107.

    Abstract

    Perhaps the main advantage of being bilingual is the capacity to communicate with interlocutors that have different language backgrounds. In the life of a bilingual, switching interlocutors hence sometimes involves switching languages. We know that the capacity to switch from one language to another is supported by control mechanisms, such as task-set reconfiguration. This study investigates whether similar neurophysiological mechanisms support bilingual switching between different listeners, within and across languages. A group of 48 unbalanced Dutch-English bilinguals named pictures for two monolingual Dutch and two monolingual English life-size virtual listeners in an immersive virtual reality environment. In terms of reaction times, switching languages came at a cost over and above the significant cost of switching from one listener to another. Analysis of event-related potentials showed similar electrophysiological correlates for switching listeners and switching languages. However, it was found that having to switch listeners and languages at the same time delays the onset of lexical processes more than a switch between listeners within the same language. Findings are interpreted in light of the interplay between proactive (sustained inhibition) and reactive (task-set reconfiguration) control in bilingual speech production. It is argued that a possible bilingual advantage in executive control may not be due to the process of switching per se. This study paves the way for the study of bilingual language switching in ecologically valid, naturalistic, experimental settings.

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    Supplementary data
  • Rasenberg, M., Rommers, J., & Van Bergen, G. (2020). Anticipating predictability: An ERP investigation of expectation-managing discourse markers in dialogue comprehension. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(1), 1-16. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1624789.

    Abstract

    n two ERP experiments, we investigated how the Dutch discourse markers eigenlijk “actually”, signalling expectation disconfirmation, and inderdaad “indeed”, signalling expectation confirmation, affect incremental dialogue comprehension. We investigated their effects on the processing of subsequent (un)predictable words, and on the quality of word representations in memory. Participants read dialogues with (un)predictable endings that followed a discourse marker (eigenlijk in Experiment 1, inderdaad in Experiment 2) or a control adverb. We found no strong evidence that discourse markers modulated online predictability effects elicited by subsequently read words. However, words following eigenlijk elicited an enhanced posterior post-N400 positivity compared with words following an adverb regardless of their predictability, potentially reflecting increased processing costs associated with pragmatically driven discourse updating. No effects of inderdaad were found on online processing, but inderdaad seemed to influence memory for (un)predictable dialogue endings. These findings nuance our understanding of how pragmatic markers affect incremental language comprehension.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1624789_sm6686.docx
  • Ripperda, J., Drijvers, L., & Holler, J. (2020). Speeding up the detection of non-iconic and iconic gestures (SPUDNIG): A toolkit for the automatic detection of hand movements and gestures in video data. Behavior Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01350-2.

    Abstract

    In human face-to-face communication, speech is frequently accompanied by visual signals, especially communicative hand gestures. Analyzing these visual signals requires detailed manual annotation of video data, which is often a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. To facilitate this process, we here present SPUDNIG (SPeeding Up the Detection of Non-iconic and Iconic Gestures), a tool to automatize the detection and annotation of hand movements in video data. We provide a detailed description of how SPUDNIG detects hand movement initiation and termination, as well as open-source code and a short tutorial on an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) of our tool. We then provide a proof-of-principle and validation of our method by comparing SPUDNIG’s output to manual annotations of gestures by a human coder. While the tool does not entirely eliminate the need of a human coder (e.g., for false positives detection), our results demonstrate that SPUDNIG can detect both iconic and non-iconic gestures with very high accuracy, and could successfully detect all iconic gestures in our validation dataset. Importantly, SPUDNIG’s output can directly be imported into commonly used annotation tools such as ELAN and ANVIL. We therefore believe that SPUDNIG will be highly relevant for researchers studying multimodal communication due to its annotations significantly accelerating the analysis of large video corpora.

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    data and materials
  • Shao, Z., & Rommers, J. (2020). How a question context aids word production: Evidence from the picture–word interference paradigm. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(2), 165-173. doi:10.1177/1747021819882911.

    Abstract

    Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture–word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture–word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming reaction times (RTs) were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared with nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.
  • Sjerps, M. J., Decuyper, C., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Initiation of utterance planning in response to pre-recorded and “live” utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 357-374. doi:10.1177/1747021819881265.

    Abstract

    In everyday conversation, interlocutors often plan their utterances while listening to their conversational partners, thereby achieving short gaps between their turns. Important issues for current psycholinguistics are how interlocutors distribute their attention between listening and speech planning and how speech planning is timed relative to listening. Laboratory studies addressing these issues have used a variety of paradigms, some of which have involved using recorded speech to which participants responded, whereas others have involved interactions with confederates. This study investigated how this variation in the speech input affected the participants’ timing of speech planning. In Experiment 1, participants responded to utterances produced by a confederate, who sat next to them and looked at the same screen. In Experiment 2, they responded to recorded utterances of the same confederate. Analyses of the participants’ speech, their eye movements, and their performance in a concurrent tapping task showed that, compared with recorded speech, the presence of the confederate increased the processing load for the participants, but did not alter their global sentence planning strategy. These results have implications for the design of psycholinguistic experiments and theories of listening and speaking in dyadic settings.
  • Snijders, T. M., Benders, T., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Infants segment words from songs - an EEG study. Brain Sciences, 10( 1): 39. doi:10.3390/brainsci10010039.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs are omnipresent and highly attractive stimuli in infants’ input. Previous work suggests that infants process linguistic–phonetic information from simplified sung melodies. The present study investigated whether infants learn words from ecologically valid children’s songs. Testing 40 Dutch-learning 10-month-olds in a familiarization-then-test electroencephalography (EEG) paradigm, this study asked whether infants can segment repeated target words embedded in songs during familiarization and subsequently recognize those words in continuous speech in the test phase. To replicate previous speech work and compare segmentation across modalities, infants participated in both song and speech sessions. Results showed a positive event-related potential (ERP) familiarity effect to the final compared to the first target occurrences during both song and speech familiarization. No evidence was found for word recognition in the test phase following either song or speech. Comparisons across the stimuli of the present and a comparable previous study suggested that acoustic prominence and speech rate may have contributed to the polarity of the ERP familiarity effect and its absence in the test phase. Overall, the present study provides evidence that 10-month-old infants can segment words embedded in songs, and it raises questions about the acoustic and other factors that enable or hinder infant word segmentation from songs and speech.
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Interleaved lexical and audiovisual information can retune phoneme boundaries. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01961-8.

    Abstract

    To adapt to situations in which speech perception is difficult, listeners can adjust boundaries between phoneme categories using perceptual learning. Such adjustments can draw on lexical information in surrounding speech, or on visual cues via speech-reading. In the present study, listeners proved they were able to flexibly adjust the boundary between two plosive/stop consonants, /p/-/t/, using both lexical and speech-reading information and given the same experimental design for both cue types. Videos of a speaker pronouncing pseudo-words and audio recordings of Dutch words were presented in alternating blocks of either stimulus type. Listeners were able to switch between cues to adjust phoneme boundaries, and resulting effects were comparable to results from listeners receiving only a single source of information. Overall, audiovisual cues (i.e., the videos) produced the stronger effects, commensurate with their applicability for adapting to noisy environments. Lexical cues were able to induce effects with fewer exposure stimuli and a changing phoneme bias, in a design unlike most prior studies of lexical retuning. While lexical retuning effects were relatively weaker compared to audiovisual recalibration, this discrepancy could reflect how lexical retuning may be more suitable for adapting to speakers than to environments. Nonetheless, the presence of the lexical retuning effects suggests that it may be invoked at a faster rate than previously seen. In general, this technique has further illuminated the robustness of adaptability in speech perception, and offers the potential to enable further comparisons across differing forms of perceptual learning.
  • Ünal, E., & Papafragou, A. (2020). Relations between language and cognition: Evidentiality and sources of knowledge. Topics in Cognitive Science, 12(1), 115-135. doi:10.1111/tops.12355.

    Abstract

    Understanding and acquiring language involve mapping language onto conceptual representations. Nevertheless, several issues remain unresolved with respect to (a) how such mappings are performed, and (b) whether conceptual representations are susceptible to cross‐linguistic influences. In this article, we discuss these issues focusing on the domain of evidentiality and sources of knowledge. Empirical evidence in this domain yields growing support for the proposal that linguistic categories of evidentiality are tightly linked to, build on, and reflect conceptual representations of sources of knowledge that are shared across speakers of different languages.
  • Vernes, S. C., & Wilkinson, G. S. (2020). Behaviour, biology, and evolution of vocal learning in bats. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375(1789): 20190061. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0061.

    Abstract

    The comparative approach can provide insight into the evolution of human speech, language and social communication by studying relevant traits in animal systems. Bats are emerging as a model system with great potential to shed light on these processes given their learned vocalizations, close social interactions, and mammalian brains and physiology. A recent framework outlined the multiple levels of investigation needed to understand vocal learning across a broad range of non-human species, including cetaceans, pinnipeds, elephants, birds and bats. Here, we apply this framework to the current state-of-the-art in bat research. This encompasses our understanding of the abilities bats have displayed for vocal learning, what is known about the timing and social structure needed for such learning, and current knowledge about the prevalence of the trait across the order. It also addresses the biology (vocal tract morphology, neurobiology and genetics) and evolution of this trait. We conclude by highlighting some key questions that should be answered to advance our understanding of the biological encoding and evolution of speech and spoken communication. This article is part of the theme issue 'What can animal communication teach us about human language?'

    Supplementary material

    earlier version of article on BioRxiv
  • Yang, W., Chan, A., Chang, F., & Kidd, E. (2020). Four-year-old Mandarin-speaking children’s online comprehension of relative clauses. Cognition, 196: 104103. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104103.

    Abstract

    A core question in language acquisition is whether children’s syntactic processing is experience-dependent and language-specific, or whether it is governed by abstract, universal syntactic machinery. We address this question by presenting corpus and on-line processing dat a from children learning Mandarin Chinese, a language that has been important in debates about the universality of parsing processes. The corpus data revealed that two different relative clause constructions in Mandarin are differentially used to modify syntactic subjects and objects. In the experiment, 4-year-old children’s eye-movements were recorded as they listened to the two RC construction types (e.g., Can you pick up the pig that pushed the sheep?). A permutation analysis showed that children’s ease of comprehension was closely aligned with the distributional frequencies, suggesting syntactic processing preferences are shaped by the input experience of these constructions.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S001002771930277X-mmc1.pdf
  • Zheng, X., Roelofs, A., Erkan, H., & Lemhöfer, K. (2020). Dynamics of inhibitory control during bilingual speech production: An electrophysiological study. Neuropsychologia. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107387.

    Abstract

    Bilingual speakers have to control their languages to avoid interference, which may be achieved by enhancing the target language and/or inhibiting the nontarget language. Previous research suggests that bilinguals use inhibition (e.g., Jackson et al., 2001), which should be reflected in the N2 component of the event-related potential (ERP) in the EEG. In the current study, we investigated the dynamics of inhibitory control by measuring the N2 during language switching and repetition in bilingual picture naming. Participants had to name pictures in Dutch or English depending on the cue. A run of same-language trials could be short (two or three trials) or long (five or six trials). We assessed whether RTs and N2 changed over the course of same-language runs, and at a switch between languages. Results showed that speakers named pictures more quickly late as compared to early in a run of same-language trials. Moreover, they made a language switch more quickly after a long run than after a short run. This run-length effect was only present in the first language (L1), not in the second language (L2). In ERPs, we observed a widely distributed switch effect in the N2, which was larger after a short run than after a long run. This effect was only present in the L2, not in the L1, although the difference was not significant between languages. In contrast, the N2 was not modulated during a same-language run. Our results suggest that the nontarget language is inhibited at a switch, but not during the repeated use of the target language.

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  • Alday, P. M. (2019). M/EEG analysis of naturalistic stories: a review from speech to language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 457-473. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1546882.

    Abstract

    M/EEG research using naturally spoken stories as stimuli has focused largely on speech and not language processing. The temporal resolution of M/EEG is a two-edged sword, allowing for the study of the fine acoustic structure of speech, yet easily overwhelmed by the temporal noise of variation in constituent length. Recent theories on the neural encoding of linguistic structure require the temporal resolution of M/EEG, yet suffer from confounds when studied on traditional, heavily controlled stimuli. Recent methodological advances allow for synthesising naturalistic designs and traditional, controlled designs into effective M/EEG research on naturalistic language. In this review, we highlight common threads throughout the at-times distinct research traditions of speech and language processing. We conclude by examining the tradeoffs and successes of three M/EEG studies on fully naturalistic language paradigms and the future directions they suggest.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). How much baseline correction do we need in ERP research? Extended GLM model can replace baseline correction while lifting its limits. Psychophysiology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/psyp.13451.

    Abstract

    Baseline correction plays an important role in past and current methodological debates in ERP research (e.g., the Tanner vs. Maess debate in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods), serving as a potential alternative to strong high‐pass filtering. However, the very assumptions that underlie traditional baseline also undermine it, implying a reduction in the signal‐to‐noise ratio. In other words, traditional baseline correction is statistically unnecessary and even undesirable. Including the baseline interval as a predictor in a GLM‐based statistical approach allows the data to determine how much baseline correction is needed, including both full traditional and no baseline correction as special cases. This reduces the amount of variance in the residual error term and thus has the potential to increase statistical power.
  • Alday, P. M., & Kretzschmar, F. (2019). Speed-accuracy tradeoffs in brain and behavior: Testing the independence of P300 and N400 related processes in behavioral responses to sentence categorization. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 285. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00285.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

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

    Abstract

    We present a critical review of computational models of generalization of simple grammar-like rules, such as ABA and ABB. In particular, we focus on models attempting to account for the empirical results of Marcus et al. (Science, 283(5398), 77–80 1999). In that study, evidence is reported of generalization behavior by 7-month-old infants, using an Artificial Language Learning paradigm. The authors fail to replicate this behavior in neural network simulations, and claim that this failure reveals inherent limitations of a whole class of neural networks: those that do not incorporate symbolic operations. A great number of computational models were proposed in follow-up studies, fuelling a heated debate about what is required for a model to generalize. Twenty years later, this debate is still not settled. In this paper, we review a large number of the proposed models. We present a critical analysis of those models, in terms of how they contribute to answer the most relevant questions raised by the experiment. After identifying which aspects require further research, we propose a list of desiderata for advancing our understanding on generalization.
  • Araújo, S., Fernandes, T., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read facilitates retrieval of phonological representations in rapid automatized naming: Evidence from unschooled illiterate, ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. Developmental Science, 22(4): e12783. doi:10.1111/desc.12783.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Azar, Z., Backus, A., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Language contact does not drive gesture transfer: Heritage speakers maintain language specific gesture patterns in each language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S136672891900018X.

    Abstract

    This paper investigates whether there are changes in gesture rate when speakers of two languages with different gesture rates (Turkish-high gesture; Dutch-low gesture) come into daily contact. We analyzed gestures produced by second-generation heritage speakers of Turkish in the Netherlands in each language, comparing them to monolingual baselines. We did not find differences between bilingual and monolingual speakers, possibly because bilinguals were proficient in both languages and used them frequently – in line with a usage-based approach to language. However, bilinguals produced more deictic gestures than monolinguals in both Turkish and Dutch, which we interpret as a bilingual strategy. Deictic gestures may help organize discourse by placing entities in gesture space and help reduce the cognitive load associated with being bilingual, e.g., inhibition cost. Therefore, gesture rate does not necessarily change in contact situations but might be modulated by frequency of language use, proficiency, and cognitive factors related to being bilingual.
  • Azar, Z., Ozyurek, A., & Backus, A. (2019). Turkish-Dutch bilinguals maintain language-specific reference tracking strategies in elicited narratives. International Journal of Bilingualism. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1367006919838375.

    Abstract

    Aim: This paper examines whether second-generation Turkish heritage speakers in the Netherlands follow language-specific patterns of reference tracking in Turkish and Dutch, focusing on discourse status and pragmatic contexts as factors that may modulate the choice of referring expressions (REs), that is, the noun phrase (NP), overt pronoun and null pronoun. Methodology: Two short silent videos were used to elicit narratives from 20 heritage speakers of Turkish, both in Turkish and in Dutch. Monolingual baseline data were collected from 20 monolingually raised speakers of Turkish in Turkey and 20 monolingually raised speakers of Dutch in the Netherlands. We also collected language background data from bilinguals with an extensive survey. Data and analysis: Using generalised logistic mixed-effect regression, we analysed the influence of discourse status and pragmatic context on the choice of subject REs in Turkish and Dutch, comparing bilingual data to the monolingual baseline in each language. Findings: Heritage speakers used overt versus null pronouns in Turkish and stressed versus reduced pronouns in Dutch in pragmatically appropriate contexts. There was, however, a slight increase in the proportions of overt pronouns as opposed to NPs in Turkish and as opposed to null pronouns in Dutch. We suggest an explanation based on the degree of entrenchment of differential RE types in relation to discourse status as the possible source of the increase. Originality: This paper provides data from an understudied language pair in the domain of reference tracking in language contact situations. Unlike several studies of pronouns in language contact, we do not find differences across monolingual and bilingual speakers with regard to pragmatic constraints on overt pronouns in the minority pro-drop language. Significance: Our findings highlight the importance of taking language proficiency and use into account while studying bilingualism and combining formal approaches to language use with usage-based approaches for a more complete understanding of bilingual language production.
  • Barthel, M., & Sauppe, S. (2019). Speech planning at turn transitions in dialogue is associated with increased processing load. Cognitive Science, 43(7): e12768. doi:10.1111/cogs.12768.

    Abstract

    Speech planning is a sophisticated process. In dialog, it regularly starts in overlap with an incoming turn by a conversation partner. We show that planning spoken responses in overlap with incoming turns is associated with higher processing load than planning in silence. In a dialogic experiment, participants took turns with a confederate describing lists of objects. The confederate’s utterances (to which participants responded) were pre‐recorded and varied in whether they ended in a verb or an object noun and whether this ending was predictable or not. We found that response planning in overlap with sentence‐final verbs evokes larger task‐evoked pupillary responses, while end predictability had no effect. This finding indicates that planning in overlap leads to higher processing load for next speakers in dialog and that next speakers do not proactively modulate the time course of their response planning based on their predictions of turn endings. The turn‐taking system exerts pressure on the language processing system by pushing speakers to plan in overlap despite the ensuing increase in processing load.
  • Bekemeier, N., Brenner, D., Klepp, A., Biermann-Ruben, K., & Indefrey, P. (2019). Electrophysiological correlates of concept type shifts. PLoS One, 14(3): e0212624. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212624.

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    In recent years, neuroimaging research in cognitive neuroscience has increasingly used multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate higher cognitive functions. Here we present DDTBOX, an open-source MVPA toolbox for electroencephalography (EEG) data. DDTBOX runs under MATLAB and is well integrated with the EEGLAB/ERPLAB and Fieldtrip toolboxes (Delorme and Makeig 2004; Lopez-Calderon and Luck 2014; Oostenveld et al. 2011). It trains support vector machines (SVMs) on patterns of event-related potential (ERP) amplitude data, following or preceding an event of interest, for classification or regression of experimental variables. These amplitude patterns can be extracted across space/electrodes (spatial decoding), time (temporal decoding), or both (spatiotemporal decoding). DDTBOX can also extract SVM feature weights, generate empirical chance distributions based on shuffled-labels decoding for group-level statistical testing, provide estimates of the prevalence of decodable information in the population, and perform a variety of corrections for multiple comparisons. It also includes plotting functions for single subject and group results. DDTBOX complements conventional analyses of ERP components, as subtle multivariate patterns can be detected that would be overlooked in standard analyses. It further allows for a more explorative search for information when no ERP component is known to be specifically linked to a cognitive process of interest. In summary, DDTBOX is an easy-to-use and open-source toolbox that allows for characterising the time-course of information related to various perceptual and cognitive processes. It can be applied to data from a large number of experimental paradigms and could therefore be a valuable tool for the neuroimaging community.
  • Bögels, S., Kendrick, K. H., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Conversational expectations get revised as response latencies unfold. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1590609.

    Abstract

    The present study extends neuro-imaging into conversation through studying dialogue comprehension. Conversation entails rapid responses, with negative semiotics for delay. We explored how expectations about the valence of the forthcoming response develop during the silence before the response and whether negative responses have mainly cognitive or social-emotional consequences. EEG-participants listened to questions from a spontaneous spoken corpus, cross-spliced with short/long gaps and “yes”/“no” responses. Preceding contexts biased listeners to expect the eventual response, which was hypothesised to translate to expectations for a shorter or longer gap. “No” responses showed a trend towards an early positivity, suggesting socio-emotional consequences. Within the long gap, expecting a “yes” response led to an earlier negativity, as well as a trend towards stronger theta-oscillations, after 300 milliseconds. This suggests that listeners anticipate/predict “yes” responses to come earlier than “no” responses, showing strong sensitivities to timing, which presumably promote hastening the pace of verbal interaction.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1590609_sm4630.docx
  • Bosker, H. R., Van Os, M., Does, R., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Counting 'uhm's: how tracking the distribution of native and non-native disfluencies influences online language comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 189-202. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.02.006.

    Abstract

    Disfluencies, like 'uh', have been shown to help listeners anticipate reference to low-frequency words. The associative account of this 'disfluency bias' proposes that listeners learn to associate disfluency with low-frequency referents based on prior exposure to non-arbitrary disfluency distributions (i.e., greater probability of low-frequency words after disfluencies). However, there is limited evidence for listeners actually tracking disfluency distributions online. The present experiments are the first to show that adult listeners, exposed to a typical or more atypical disfluency distribution (i.e., hearing a talker unexpectedly say uh before high-frequency words), flexibly adjust their predictive strategies to the disfluency distribution at hand (e.g., learn to predict high-frequency referents after disfluency). However, when listeners were presented with the same atypical disfluency distribution but produced by a non-native speaker, no adjustment was observed. This suggests pragmatic inferences can modulate distributional learning, revealing the flexibility of, and constraints on, distributional learning in incremental language comprehension.
  • Bosker, H. R., Sjerps, M. J., & Reinisch, E. (2019). Spectral contrast effects are modulated by selective attention in ‘cocktail party’ settings. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01824-2.

    Abstract

    Speech sounds are perceived relative to spectral properties of surrounding speech. For instance, target words ambiguous between /bɪt/ (with low F1) and /bɛt/ (with high F1) are more likely to be perceived as “bet” after a ‘low F1’ sentence, but as “bit” after a ‘high F1’ sentence. However, it is unclear how these spectral contrast effects (SCEs) operate in multi-talker listening conditions. Recently, Feng and Oxenham [(2018b). J.Exp.Psychol.-Hum.Percept.Perform. 44(9), 1447–1457] reported that selective attention affected SCEs to a small degree, using two simultaneously presented sentences produced by a single talker. The present study assessed the role of selective attention in more naturalistic ‘cocktail party’ settings, with 200 lexically unique sentences, 20 target words, and different talkers. Results indicate that selective attention to one talker in one ear (while ignoring another talker in the other ear) modulates SCEs in such a way that only the spectral properties of the attended talker influences target perception. However, SCEs were much smaller in multi-talker settings (Experiment 2) than those in single-talker settings (Experiment 1). Therefore, the influence of SCEs on speech comprehension in more naturalistic settings (i.e., with competing talkers) may be smaller than estimated based on studies without competing talkers.

    Supplementary material

    13414_2019_1824_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • Bosma, E., & Nota, N. (2019). Cognate facilitation in Frisian-Dutch bilingual children’s sentence reading: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104699.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Speaker-specific processing of anomalous utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(4), 764-778. doi:10.1177/1747021818765547.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Brehm, L., Hussey, E., & Christianson, K. (2019). The role of word frequency and morpho-orthography in agreement processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1631456.

    Abstract

    Agreement attraction in comprehension (when an ungrammatical verb is read quickly if preceded by a feature-matching local noun) is well described by a cue-based retrieval framework. This suggests a role for lexical retrieval in attraction. To examine this, we manipulated two probabilistic factors known to affect lexical retrieval: local noun word frequency and morpho-orthography (agreement morphology realised with or without –s endings) in a self-paced reading study. Noun number and word frequency affected noun and verb region reading times, with higher-frequency words not eliciting attraction. Morpho-orthography impacted verb processing but not attraction: atypical plurals led to slower verb reading times regardless of verb number. Exploratory individual difference analyses further underscore the importance of lexical retrieval dynamics in sentence processing. This provides evidence that agreement operates via a cue-based retrieval mechanism over lexical representations that vary in their strength and association to number features.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental material
  • Brehm, L., Taschenberger, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Mental representations of partner task cause interference in picture naming. Acta Psychologica, 199: 102888. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.102888.

    Abstract

    Interference in picture naming occurs from representing a partner's preparations to speak (Gambi, van de Cavey, & Pickering, 2015). We tested the origins of this interference using a simple non-communicative joint naming task based on Gambi et al. (2015), where response latencies indexed interference from partner task and partner speech content, and eye fixations to partner objects indexed overt attention. Experiment 1 contrasted a partner-present condition with a control partner-absent condition to establish the role of the partner in eliciting interference. For latencies, we observed interference from the partner's task and speech content, with interference increasing due to partner task in the partner-present condition. Eye-tracking measures showed that interference in naming was not due to overt attention to partner stimuli but to broad expectations about likely utterances. Experiment 2 examined whether an equivalent non-verbal task also elicited interference, as predicted from a language as joint action framework. We replicated the finding of interference due to partner task and again found no relationship between overt attention and interference. These results support Gambi et al. (2015). Individuals co-represent a partner's task while speaking, and doing so does not require overt attention to partner stimuli.
  • Brennan, J. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Phase synchronization varies systematically with linguistic structure composition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences. Advance online publication. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0305.

    Abstract

    Computation in neuronal assemblies is putatively reflected in the excitatory and inhibitory cycles of activation distributed throughout the brain. In speech and language processing, coordination of these cycles resulting in phase synchronization has been argued to reflect the integration of information on different timescales (e.g. segmenting acoustics signals to phonemic and syllabic representations; (Giraud and Poeppel 2012 Nat. Neurosci.15, 511 (doi:10.1038/nn.3063)). A natural extension of this claim is that phase synchronization functions similarly to support the inference of more abstract higher-level linguistic structures (Martin 2016 Front. Psychol.7, 120; Martin and Doumas 2017 PLoS Biol. 15, e2000663 (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000663); Martin and Doumas. 2019 Curr. Opin. Behav. Sci.29, 77–83 (doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008)). Hale et al. (Hale et al. 2018 Finding syntax in human encephalography with beam search. arXiv 1806.04127 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1806.04127)) showed that syntactically driven parsing decisions predict electroencephalography (EEG) responses in the time domain; here we ask whether phase synchronization in the form of either inter-trial phrase coherence or cross-frequency coupling (CFC) between high-frequency (i.e. gamma) bursts and lower-frequency carrier signals (i.e. delta, theta), changes as the linguistic structures of compositional meaning (viz., bracket completions, as denoted by the onset of words that complete phrases) accrue. We use a naturalistic story-listening EEG dataset from Hale et al. to assess the relationship between linguistic structure and phase alignment. We observe increased phase synchronization as a function of phrase counts in the delta, theta, and gamma bands, especially for function words. A more complex pattern emerged for CFC as phrase count changed, possibly related to the lack of a one-to-one mapping between ‘size’ of linguistic structure and frequency band—an assumption that is tacit in recent frameworks. These results emphasize the important role that phase synchronization, desynchronization, and thus, inhibition, play in the construction of compositional meaning by distributed neural networks in the brain.
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2019). No L1 privilege in talker adaptation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S1366728919000646.

    Abstract

    As a rule, listening is easier in first (L1) than second languages (L2); difficult L2 listening can challenge even highly proficient users. We here examine one particular listening function, adaptation to novel talkers, in such a high-proficiency population: Dutch emigrants to Australia, predominantly using English outside the family, but all also retaining L1 proficiency. Using lexically-guided perceptual learning (Norris, McQueen & Cutler, 2003), we investigated these listeners’ adaptation to an ambiguous speech sound, in parallel experiments in both their L1 and their L2. A control study established that perceptual learning outcomes were unaffected by the procedural measures required for this double comparison. The emigrants showed equivalent proficiency in tests in both languages, robust perceptual adaptation in their L2, English, but no adaptation in L1. We propose that adaptation to novel talkers is a language-specific skill requiring regular novel practice; a limited set of known (family) interlocutors cannot meet this requirement.
  • Burra, N., Hervais-Adelman, A., Celeghin, A., de Gelder, B., & Pegna, A. J. (2019). Affective blindsight relies on low spatial frequencies. Neuropsychologia, 128, 44-49. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.10.009.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    gbb12572-sup-0001-AppendixS1.docx
  • Casillas, M., & Cristia, A. (2019). A step-by-step guide to collecting and analyzing long-format speech environment (LFSE) recordings. Collabra, 5(1): 24. doi:10.1525/collabra.209.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary Materials
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Early language experience in a Tseltal Mayan village. Child Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/cdev.13349.

    Abstract

    Daylong at-home audio recordings from 10 Tseltal Mayan children (0;2–3;0; Southern Mexico) were analyzed for how often children engaged in verbal interaction with others and whether their speech environment changed with age, time of day, household size, and number of speakers present. Children were infrequently directly spoken to, with most directed speech coming from adults, and no increase with age. Most directed speech came in the mornings, and interactional peaks contained nearly four times the baseline rate of directed speech. Coarse indicators of children's language development (babbling, first words, first word combinations) suggest that Tseltal children manage to extract the linguistic information they need despite minimal directed speech. Multiple proposals for how they might do so are discussed.

    Supplementary material

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    We report on an analysis of spontaneous gesture production in 2‐year‐old children who come from three countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Australia) and who speak two languages (Italian, English), in an attempt to tease apart the influence of language and culture when comparing children from different cultural and linguistic environments. Eighty‐seven monolingual children aged 24–30 months completed an experimental task measuring their comprehension and production of nouns and predicates. The Italian children scored significantly higher than the other groups on all lexical measures. With regard to gestures, British children produced significantly fewer pointing and speech combinations compared to Italian and Australian children, who did not differ from each other. In contrast, Italian children produced significantly more representational gestures than the other two groups. We conclude that spoken language development is primarily influenced by the input language over gesture production, whereas the combination of cultural and language environments affects gesture production.
  • Chang, Y.-N., & Monaghan, P. (2019). Quantity and diversity of preliteracy language exposure both affect literacy development: Evidence from a computational model of reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 23(3), 235-253. doi:10.1080/10888438.2018.1529177.

    Abstract

    Diversity of vocabulary knowledge and quantity of language exposure prior to literacy are key predictors of reading development. However, diversity and quantity of exposure are difficult to distinguish in behavioural studies, and so the causal relations with literacy are not well known. We tested these relations by training a connectionist triangle model of reading that learned to map between semantic; phonological; and, later, orthographic forms of words. The model first learned to map between phonology and semantics, where we manipulated the quantity and diversity of this preliterate language experience. Then the model learned to read. Both diversity and quantity of exposure had unique effects on reading performance, with larger effects for written word comprehension than for reading fluency. The results further showed that quantity of preliteracy language exposure was beneficial only when this was to a varied vocabulary and could be an impediment when exposed to a limited vocabulary.
  • Chang, Y.-N., Monaghan, P., & Welbourne, S. (2019). A computational model of reading across development: Effects of literacy onset on language processing. Journal of Memory and Language. Advance online publication, 108: 104025. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.05.003.

    Abstract

    Cognitive development is shaped by interactions between cognitive architecture and environmental experiences of the growing brain. We examined the extent to which this interaction during development could be observed in language processing. We focused on age of acquisition (AoA) effects in reading, where early-learned words tend to be processed more quickly and accurately relative to later-learned words. We implemented a computational model including representations of print, sound and meaning of words, with training based on children’s gradual exposure to language. The model produced AoA effects in reading and lexical decision, replicating the larger effects of AoA when semantic representations are involved. Further, the model predicted that AoA would relate to differing use of the reading system, with words acquired before versus after literacy onset with distinctive accessing of meaning and sound representations. An analysis of behaviour from the English Lexicon project was consistent with the predictions: Words acquired before literacy are more likely to access meaning via sound, showing a suppressed AoA effect, whereas words acquired after literacy rely more on direct print to meaning mappings, showing an exaggerated AoA effect. The reading system reveals vestigial traces of acquisition reflected in differing use of word representations during reading.
  • Comasco, E., Schijven, D., de Maeyer, H., Vrettou, M., Nylander, I., Sundström-Poromaa, I., & Olivier, J. D. A. (2019). Constitutive serotonin transporter reduction resembles maternal separation with regard to stress-related gene expression. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 10, 3132-3142. doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00595.

    Abstract

    Interactive effects between allelic variants of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) promoter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and stressors on depression symptoms have been documented, as well as questioned, by meta-analyses. Translational models of constitutive 5-htt reduction and experimentally controlled stressors often led to inconsistent behavioral and molecular findings and often did not include females. The present study sought to investigate the effect of 5-htt genotype, maternal separation, and sex on the expression of stress-related candidate genes in the rat hippocampus and frontal cortex. The mRNA expression levels of Avp, Pomc, Crh, Crhbp, Crhr1, Bdnf, Ntrk2, Maoa, Maob, and Comt were assessed in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of 5-htt ± and 5-htt +/+ male and female adult rats exposed, or not, to daily maternal separation for 180 min during the first 2 postnatal weeks. Gene- and brain region-dependent, but sex-independent, interactions between 5-htt genotype and maternal separation were found. Gene expression levels were higher in 5-htt +/+ rats not exposed to maternal separation compared with the other experimental groups. Maternal separation and 5-htt +/− genotype did not yield additive effects on gene expression. Correlative relationships, mainly positive, were observed within, but not across, brain regions in all groups except in non-maternally separated 5-htt +/+ rats. Gene expression patterns in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of rats exposed to maternal separation resembled the ones observed in rats with reduced 5-htt expression regardless of sex. These results suggest that floor effects of 5-htt reduction and maternal separation might explain inconsistent findings in humans and rodents
  • Croijmans, I., Speed, L., Arshamian, A., & Majid, A. (2019). Measuring the multisensory imagery of wine: The Vividness of Wine Imagery Questionnaire. Multisensory Research, 32(3), 179-195. doi:10.1163/22134808-20191340.

    Abstract

    When we imagine objects or events, we often engage in multisensory mental imagery. Yet, investigations of mental imagery have typically focused on only one sensory modality — vision. One reason for this is that the most common tool for the measurement of imagery, the questionnaire, has been restricted to unimodal ratings of the object. We present a new mental imagery questionnaire that measures multisensory imagery. Specifically, the newly developed Vividness of Wine Imagery Questionnaire (VWIQ) measures mental imagery of wine in the visual, olfactory, and gustatory modalities. Wine is an ideal domain to explore multisensory imagery because wine drinking is a multisensory experience, it involves the neglected chemical senses (smell and taste), and provides the opportunity to explore the effect of experience and expertise on imagery (from wine novices to experts). The VWIQ questionnaire showed high internal consistency and reliability, and correlated with other validated measures of imagery. Overall, the VWIQ may serve as a useful tool to explore mental imagery for researchers, as well as individuals in the wine industry during sommelier training and evaluation of wine professionals.
  • Cuskley, C., Dingemanse, M., Kirby, S., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). Cross-modal associations and synesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel–color mappings in a large online sample. Behavior Research Methods, 51, 1651-1675. doi:10.3758/s13428-019-01203-7.

    Abstract

    We report associations between vowel sounds, graphemes, and colours collected online from over 1000 Dutch speakers. We provide open materials including a Python implementation of the structure measure, and code for a single page web application to run simple cross-modal tasks. We also provide a full dataset of colour-vowel associations from 1164 participants, including over 200 synaesthetes identified using consistency measures. Our analysis reveals salient patterns in cross-modal associations, and introduces a novel measure of isomorphism in cross-modal mappings. We find that while acoustic features of vowels significantly predict certain mappings (replicating prior work), both vowel phoneme category and grapheme category are even better predictors of colour choice. Phoneme category is the best predictor of colour choice overall, pointing to the importance of phonological representations in addition to acoustic cues. Generally, high/front vowels are lighter, more green, and more yellow than low/back vowels. Synaesthetes respond more strongly on some dimensions, choosing lighter and more yellow colours for high and mid front vowels than non-synaesthetes. We also present a novel measure of cross-modal mappings adapted from ecology, which uses a simulated distribution of mappings to measure the extent to which participants' actual mappings are structured isomorphically across modalities. Synaesthetes have mappings that tend to be more structured than non-synaesthetes, and more consistent colour choices across trials correlate with higher structure scores. Nevertheless, the large majority (~70%) of participants produce structured mappings, indicating that the capacity to make isomorphically structured mappings across distinct modalities is shared to a large extent, even if the exact nature of mappings varies across individuals. Overall, this novel structure measure suggests a distribution of structured cross-modal association in the population, with synaesthetes on one extreme and participants with unstructured associations on the other.
  • Dediu, D., & Moisik, S. R. (2019). Pushes and pulls from below: Anatomical variation, articulation and sound change. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4(1): 7. doi:10.5334/gjgl.646.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly heritable childhood behavioral disorder affecting 5% of children and 2.5% of adults. Common genetic variants contribute substantially to ADHD susceptibility, but no variants have been robustly associated with ADHD. We report a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 20,183 individuals diagnosed with ADHD and 35,191 controls that identifies variants surpassing genome-wide significance in 12 independent loci, finding important new information about the underlying biology of ADHD. Associations are enriched in evolutionarily constrained genomic regions and loss-of-function intolerant genes and around brain-expressed regulatory marks. Analyses of three replication studies: a cohort of individuals diagnosed with ADHD, a self-reported ADHD sample and a meta-analysis of quantitative measures of ADHD symptoms in the population, support these findings while highlighting study-specific differences on genetic overlap with educational attainment. Strong concordance with GWAS of quantitative population measures of ADHD symptoms supports that clinical diagnosis of ADHD is an extreme expression of continuous heritable traits.
  • Dolscheid, S., Çelik, S., Erkan, H., Küntay, A., & Majid, A. (2019). Space-pitch associations differ in their susceptibility to language. Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104073.

    Abstract

    To what extent are links between musical pitch and space universal, and to what extent are they shaped by language? There is contradictory evidence in support of both universality and linguistic relativity presently, leaving the question open. To address this, speakers of Dutch who talk about pitch in terms of spatial height and speakers of Turkish who use a thickness metaphor were tested in simple nonlinguistic space-pitch association tasks. Both groups showed evidence of a thickness-pitch association, but differed significantly in their heightpitch associations, suggesting the latter may be more susceptible to language. When participants had to match pitches to spatial stimuli where height and thickness were opposed (i.e., a thick line high in space vs. a thin line low in space), Dutch and Turkish differed in their relative preferences. Whereas Turkish participants predominantly opted for a thickness-pitch interpretation—even if this meant a reversal of height-pitch mappings—Dutch participants favored a height-pitch interpretation more often. These findings provide new evidence that speakers of different languages vary in their space-pitch associations, while at the same time showing such associations are not equally susceptible to linguistic influences. Some space-pitch (i.e., heightpitch) associations are more malleable than others (i.e., thickness-pitch).
  • Drijvers, L., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Non-native listeners benefit less from gestures and visible speech than native listeners during degraded speech comprehension. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830919831311.

    Abstract

    Native listeners benefit from both visible speech and iconic gestures to enhance degraded speech comprehension (Drijvers & Ozyürek, 2017). We tested how highly proficient non-native listeners benefit from these visual articulators compared to native listeners. We presented videos of an actress uttering a verb in clear, moderately, or severely degraded speech, while her lips were blurred, visible, or visible and accompanied by a gesture. Our results revealed that unlike native listeners, non-native listeners were less likely to benefit from the combined enhancement of visible speech and gestures, especially since the benefit from visible speech was minimal when the signal quality was not sufficient.
  • Drijvers, L., Van der Plas, M., Ozyurek, A., & Jensen, O. (2019). Native and non-native listeners show similar yet distinct oscillatory dynamics when using gestures to access speech in noise. NeuroImage, 194, 55-67. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.03.032.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S1053811919302216-mmc1.docx
  • Drijvers, L., Vaitonyte, J., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Degree of language experience modulates visual attention to visible speech and iconic gestures during clear and degraded speech comprehension. Cognitive Science, 43: e12789. doi:10.1111/cogs.12789.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supporting information
  • Eising, E., Carrion Castillo, A., Vino, A., Strand, E. A., Jakielski, K. J., Scerri, T. S., Hildebrand, M. S., Webster, R., Ma, A., Mazoyer, B., Francks, C., Bahlo, M., Scheffer, I. E., Morgan, A. T., Shriberg, L. D., & Fisher, S. E. (2019). A set of regulatory genes co-expressed in embryonic human brain is implicated in disrupted speech development. Molecular Psychiatry, 24, 1065-1078. doi:10.1038/s41380-018-0020-x.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Eising_etal_2018sup.pdf
  • Enfield, N. J., Stivers, T., Brown, P., Englert, C., Harjunpää, K., Hayashi, M., Heinemann, T., Hoymann, G., Keisanen, T., Rauniomaa, M., Raymond, C. W., Rossano, F., Yoon, K.-E., Zwitserlood, I., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). Polar answers. Journal of Linguistics, 55(2), 277-304. doi:10.1017/S0022226718000336.

    Abstract

    How do people answer polar questions? In this fourteen-language study of answers to questions in conversation, we compare the two main strategies; first, interjection-type answers such as uh-huh (or equivalents yes, mm, head nods, etc.), and second, repetition-type answers that repeat some or all of the question. We find that all languages offer both options, but that there is a strong asymmetry in their frequency of use, with a global preference for interjection-type answers. We propose that this preference is motivated by the fact that the two options are not equivalent in meaning. We argue that interjection-type answers are intrinsically suited to be the pragmatically unmarked, and thus more frequent, strategy for confirming polar questions, regardless of the language spoken. Our analysis is based on the semantic-pragmatic profile of the interjection-type and repetition-type answer strategies, in the context of certain asymmetries inherent to the dialogic speech act structure of question–answer sequences, including sequential agency and thematic agency. This allows us to see possible explanations for the outlier distributions found in ǂĀkhoe Haiǁom and Tzeltal.
  • Favier, S., Wright, A., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2019). Proficiency modulates between- but not within-language structural priming. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 3(suppl. 1), 105-124. doi:10.1007/s41809-019-00029-1.

    Abstract

    The oldest of the Celtic language family, Irish differs considerably from English, notably with respect to word order and case marking. In spite of differences in surface constituent structure, less restricted accounts of bilingual shared syntax predict that processing datives and passives in Irish should prime the production of their English equivalents. Furthermore, this cross-linguistic influence should be sensitive to L2 proficiency, if shared structural representations are assumed to develop over time. In Experiment 1, we investigated cross-linguistic structural priming from Irish to English in 47 bilingual adolescents who are educated through Irish. Testing took place in a classroom setting, using written primes and written sentence generation. We found that priming for prepositional-object (PO) datives was predicted by self-rated Irish (L2) proficiency, in line with previous studies. In Experiment 2, we presented translations of the materials to an English-educated control group (n=54). We found a within-language priming effect for PO datives, which was not modulated by English (L1) proficiency. Our findings are compatible with current theories of bilingual language processing and L2 syntactic acquisition.
  • Felker, E. R., Klockmann, H. E., & De Jong, N. H. (2019). How conceptualizing influences fluency in first and second language speech production. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40(1), 111-136. doi:10.1017/S0142716418000474.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Fisher, S. E. (2019). Human genetics: The evolving story of FOXP2. Current Biology, 29(2), R65-R67. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.047.

    Abstract

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

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