Self-monitoring and control in language production
Speakers monitor their own speech output. They control their speech for errors on content and quality of speech, and they can immediately stop speaking if they want to.
Learning and consolidation of new words: an ERP study during production of newly learned words in adults
Guest researcher: Laura Kaczer
Supervisor: Niels O. Schiller
Word learning is a fundamental building block in the acquisition of language and has often been identified as one of the distinctive components of human language. An intriguing question is how these new words consolidate their status as long term memories, becoming familiar and meaningful units stored in our brains. Consolidation is classically defined as a time-limited process of neuronal plasticity following a learning experience during which initially fragile memory traces become stabilized.
The role of lexical phonology in the production of words
Models of phonological encoding have to take many aspects of speech planning into account.
The early vocal development of songbirds and human infants
Carel ten Cate
Both humans and songbirds acquire language/birdsong from a tutor during a sensitive phase early in life and the learning processes also share many other features.
The development of executive control in color- and object naming in children
Harrie Boelens (with W. la Heij)
In this project we focus on the “color-object interference effect” in children: the observation that it takes children of 5-8 years of age longer to name the color of a real object than to name the color of a nonsense drawing. On the basis of our findings we attribute this effect to the children’s difficulty in inhibiting the task of object naming that is automatically activated when they are confronted with a colored object.
The social-emotional development and psychopathology of children with hearing impairment
Children suffering from hearing impairment often lag behind in speech and language development. This leads to less accessibility to the social world, which might lead to a delay in social and emotional development and to an increased probability to develop psychopathologies like depression, anxiety and aggression. The project “child and emotion” started in 2008. This program compares the social emotional development and psychopathology of deaf and hearing impaired children (with and without CI) aged between 9 and 15 to normal hearing children. Furthermore, the influence of a large number of medical and audiological variables is analysed, like etiology and the degree of hearing loss, language, school type, and communication mode. Preliminary results show that hearing impaired children suffer significantly more often from depression than normal hearing controls. The prevalence of anxiety disorders, however, is the same, although CI children experience less social anxiety than children with a hearing aid.
Assessing the linguistic abilities of a songbird: syntax detection and use in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)
Carel ten Cate
The faculty of language is a prominent feature differentiating humans from other animals. The uniqueness of the language faculty is highly dependent on whether research on the communication systems of other animals reveals similar principles and mechanisms. Features such as vocal learning.
Research on the fundamental mechanisms and functioning of new speech coding algorithms for cochlear implants
In addition to standard clinical stimulation patterns, there are many other speech coding strategies for cochlear implants possible. With the aid of psychophysical and computational modelling experiments, the working of such algorithms is tested. In addition, using patient trials insight is obtained into the final operation of these new stimulation strategies.
Sound quality of for example music and speech intelligibility in noise are limited despite improved results in cochlear implanting. Improved coding strategies that use the features of the modern implants might improve this. Previously the number of electrodes and stimulation frequency were increased, which are now already available in clinical settings. In addition, in our center tests were done with tri-phasic current stimulus, stochastic resonance and asymmetrically-biphasic pulses. Besides trying out these kind of stimulation strategies, it is attempted to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying these strategies, that can explain the obtained results.
Neural response measures in CI patients
A cochlear implant (CI) stimulates the auditory nerve and gives rise to a sensation of sound. In this way deaf and hearing-impaired people are able to hear again. In the speech processor the acoustic signal is converted to an electric stimulation paradigm for the auditory nerve. The optimal settings of this paradigm depend on many parameters that are often determined by subjective responses of the CI user. Implants nowadays have the opportunity to measure the response of the auditory nerve. By correlating these (objective) measures to the (subjective) responses of the CI user, we try to develop an objective method for fitting the processor. Additionally improved or new tests are developed tobe able to get insight in electrical and neural interaction.
Emotional development of implanted and non-implanted deaf children
Emotions are a major influence on child development, on inter-and intra-personal level. Interpersonal, because the way children understand emotions and deal with them determines how well they can communicate their emotions, which in turn has consequences for their social functioning. Intrapersonal because if you feel good you can also perform better in other areas (such as cognitive). Emotions have a large influence on the development of children in many domains, like social and cognitive functioning. There are indications that there are restrictions on the emotional development of deaf and CI children. Improving emotional development needs to start as young as possible. Unfortunately, there are no measuring instruments to investigate impairments in the emotional development in these very young children. The first step in this research is to search and develop experimental protocols with which the main aspects in emotional functioning of deaf and hearing implanted children (age 1-5) can be measured, with as goal a large longitudinal study.
Effectiveness of CI in prelingually deafened adults
The results obtained with cochlear implants have gradually improved over the years. The current expectation for a postlingually deafened adult CI recipient is that a conversation without visual cues is possible in a quiet surrounding. Due to these improvements of CI, the question arises whether an implant could also be beneficial for groups of patients that traditionally were excluded, for instance for prelingually deafened adults. This project investigates the effectiveness of a CI for this group of patients as well as new criteria for implantation.
The LIBC-related track in my research is about the computability of meaning in natural language. Some colleagues, students and I are investigating the possibilities of deriving and representing meaning of sentences and texts in such a way that these meanings can be identified as autonomous cognitive objects. The inquiries concentrate on the development of formal, algebraic methods to assign autonomous meanings to sentences and to derive sentences from autonomous meanings. We operate by modelling these methods computationally. The resulting meaning driven language automaton Delilah is (partly) accessible at www.delilah.eu. This automaton is further used as the starting point for research into the acquisition of natural language. David Shakouri is developing a laboratory model for the acquisition of natural language - the mother-daughter-machine. It may serve to study real language acquisition experimentally.
Bird speech? On the production and perception of formants by birds.
Carel ten Cate
Both humans and songbirds produce complex vocalizations that exhibit rapid variations in multiple acoustic parameters. A central role in the coding of linguistic meaning in speech is played by formants. Several findings indicate that formants have a role in bird vocal communication as well.
Paul van den Broek, (with L. van Leijenhorst)
The two main goals of the research that is conducted by Paul van den Broek and his collegues are to understand the cognitive and neural systems that support the development of reading comprehension and other scholarly tasks in children, adolescents and adults, and to draw implications for intervention and other educational applications.
The processing of syntactic dependencies
Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng
(with Jenny Doetjes and Leticia Pablos)
We investigate the active search mechanism outside of typical wh-filler dependencies. In particular, we investigate the processing of cataphoric pronouns, and the processing of negative polarity items. Our results show that in both cases, the active search mechanism is activated as soon as the dependent element is encountered.
Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng
In English, an interrogative phrase (or wh-phrase) has to be fronted in order to form a question (What did he ask?). In other languages, the wh-phrase remains 'in situ', that is, in its original position (cf. French Il a demandé quoi? lit. 'He asked what?', meaning 'What did he ask?').
Word Production: the interpretation of context effects in object naming in terms of models of word production
One of the empirical enigmas in experimental psychology is that the presence of a semantic relation between a target stimulus and a context has a positive effect on performance in some paradigms, but a clear negative effect in others. This discrepancy, that Neumann (1986) termed the “semantic relatedness paradox,” is most evident when one compares the results obtained with traditional semantic priming tasks with those obtained with variants of the Stroop task.
Word production in Chinese
Wido La Heij (with R. Verdonschot; N.O. Schiller, LU; H. Zhao, Dalian University; Q. Zhang, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Central in this project is the issue of interactivity vs. seriality of processes involved in word production. In contrast to alphabetic languages like Dutch and English, the Chinese language allows for a complete separation between orthographic and phonological factors.
Phonological development of typically developing children between 0 and 2;5 years of age
My research is concentrated on the phonological development of typically developing children between 0 and 2;5 years of age. I study the topic from multiple perspectives, empirically, experimentally, and neurophysiologically (recently), and with data from both production and perception.
Implicit learning of abstract sequential structures, especially natural language
My research focuses on implicit learning of abstract sequential structures, especially natural language. Language acquisition is an old puzzle in (psycho-) linguistics, because of the huge complexity of the language system and because of the small and noisy stimulus input available to the child for inducing the rules of language.
Intersubjectivity and the management of perspectives
At a very fundamental level all language use is a cooperative, joint activity. Languages are governed by conventions linking form to meaning, and conventions can only emerge and persist in groups of individuals engaged in collaborative activities (called "Schelling-games" in game theory).
Categories of causality
Causation is a basic dimension of language and cognition. I have been investigating this topic since 1991, both at the level of verbs and clauses (causative constructions) and on the level of discourse (causal connectives). A large part of the work is done in collaboration with colleagues, nationally and internationally.