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Regular version of the site

Neurolinguistics Thursday

The Centre for Language and Brain, HSE holds a regular scientific seminar "Neurolinguistic Thursday" (usually Thursday 16:00-18:00). Seminar leaders are I. R. M. Bastiaanse (Scientific Supervisor of the Center) and O. V. Dragoi (Director of the Center). At the seminar, invited speakers and staff of the Center make presentations, we discuss new and current projects of the Center, published news in the wide area of the relationship between language and brain.

Previous seminars:

December 17, 2020
Lector: Elena Gorbunova. Associate Professor of Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Psychology HSE,  Head of Laboratory for the Cognitive Psychology of Digital Interface Users, HSE.
Topic: Psycholinguistic aspects of information processing in users of digital interfaces.
Format  : online (zoom).


December 10, 2020
Lectors:  Dr. Maya C. Rose and Dr. Jay Verkuilen (Program in Educational Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center).
Topic: Improving Graphics for Pre-modeling and Model Assessment in Reaction Times.
Abstract: Many researchers in psychology rely heavily on the analysis of Reaction Times (RTs) for both basic and applied research. In fact, RT analysis dates to the origins of scientific psychology with researchers such as Franciscus Donders and C. S. Peirce in the 19th Century. While many RT analyses are quite sophisticated and make use of very complicated mathematical models such as those that model signal accumulation (e.g., the diffusion model), pre-modeling and model assessment tends to be somewhat more casual. Many non-RT specialists continue fairly casual practices grounded in tools like the linear model/ANOVA and its associated graphics that are not adapted to important features of RTs and only analyze portions of the information in them. We draw an analogy with a radiologist's use of diagnostic imaging compared to a lay viewer's: The radiologist utilizes their training and adapted tools when looking for specific features relevant to the diagnosis. By contrast, lay viewers get much less out of viewing the same information because they do not know what to look for or how to use the specialized tools. 
We make use of well-known features of RTs to generate a suite of graphical analysis strategies and graphics that let viewers function much more like a radiologist and less like a lay viewer. Having specific tasks and specialized tools is important because RT distributions are complicated, subject to notable individual differences, and require consideration of distinct parts: The left tail provides crucial information about non-decision time/shift and false starts; “genuine” RTs rise up quicky to a mode and decay downward and are what experimenters want to analyze; the right tail provides useful information about attention wanders, and other non-decision behavior. Some participants also engage in important nuisance behaviors during an experiment that need to be detected. We develop a standardized lineup of graphics that help diagnose problems at these three time scales. Our general plan involves taking a random selection of participants and performing a careful graphical analysis of them. This can help make better informed and justified decisions about exclusion criteria for false starts or attention wanders, determine likely random effects structures, and to help elicit priors for Bayesian estimation. It also protects most of the data for more confirmatory analyses. We make use of data taken from the English Lexicon Project to illustrate.
Format: online (zoom).


November 26, 2020
Lectors:  Irina Astafyeva and Svetlana Dorofeeva, Center for Language and Brain HSE.
Topic: Assessment battery development for word reading in Russian language.
Format : online (zoom).


November 12, 2020
Lector:  Yulia Akinina. Center for Language and Brain, HSE.
Topic: Individual Behavioural Patterns and Neural Underpinnings of Verb Processing in Aphasia.
Format: online (zoom).

November 5, 2020
Lector: Militina Gomozov. Master student at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and logopedist in the remedial center RecheTsvetic.
Topic: Differential diagnostics of speech disorders and innovations in classification and correction.

Nina Zdorova, Center for Language and Brain, HSE.
Topic: Speech development assessment in Russian monolingual younger schoolchildren of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: data from RuCLAB (Russian Child Language Assessment Battery).
Format: online (zoom).


October 29, 2020
Lector: Dr. Olga Parshina. Center for Language and Brain, HSE.
Topic: Bilingual language control during reading - implementing a continuum.
Abstract: During the talk I would like to present a proposal to examine bilingual language control during reading under the influence of the top-down effects.  Hoversten &Traxler (2020) argue against the fully non-selective bottom-up lexical access models in favor of the partial selective model.  The proposal discusses an eye-tracking experiment in which we can steadily implement the change in the global language context to examine the continuum of bilingual language control.

Lector: Dr. Xenia Schmalz. University of Munich.
Topic: Orthographic processing in Russian/German biliterate adults varying in reading fluency.
Abstract: Efficient reading and text comprehension necessitates fast, fluent word recognition (Pikulski & Chard, 2005). Anecdotal evidence suggests that fluency may be difficult to achieve for biliterates, if they have had limited exposure to a script during their childhood (Abadzi, 2012). In this context, it is important to understand which cognitive skills enable reading fluency. Here, we examine three potential bottlenecks which may lead to reduced fluency in biliterates who read in two different scripts, Latin and Cyrillic. First, in the less familiar script, the activation of letters may not be automatised (Froyen et al., 2009). Second, a general orthographic process, which translates the visual input to an orthographic code, may be less developed (Grainger & Ziegler, 2011}. Third, due to reduced exposure, readers may lack word-specific orthographic knowledge which would allow for automatic activation of a word's pronunciation and meaning (Share,1995). In an online study, 70 Russian/German biliterate adults varying in reading fluency were tested on their reading fluency and a number of additional tasks in both languages. Letter processing efficiency was tested in a same/different task involving consonant strings. General orthographic coding was measured by assessing participants' sensitivity to letter position changes in a same/different tasks with consonant strings and in a lexical decision task. Orthographic knowledge was determined with a lexical decision task, which included pseudohomophone foils. This paradigm allows us to investigate the relationship between these script-related skills and fluency. 
Format : online (zoom).

October 22, 2020
LectorAleksey Rolich. MIEM HSE.
Topic: Technologies of 3D visualization, virtual, alternate, and mixed reality.  

LectorDr. Olga Parshina. Center for Language and Brain, HSE.
Topic: "Bilingual language control during reading - implementing a continuum".
Abstract: During the talk I would like to present a proposal to examine bilingual language control during reading under the influence of the top-down effects.  Hoversten &Traxler (2020) argue against the fully non-selective bottom-up lexical access models in favor of the partial selective model.  The proposal discusses an eye-tracking experiment in which we can steadily implement the change in the global language context to examine the continuum of bilingual language control.
Format: online (zoom).

October 15, 2020
LectorDr. Vânia de Aguiar. University of Groningen.
Topic: Psycholinguistic evaluation of spontaneous speech in late talkers.
Abstract: Late talkers are children who have a reduced vocabulary size, but may still catch up with their typically developing peers. Previous studies have not characterized whether this reduction in vocabulary size is also associated with specific differences in lexical-semantic knowledge of late talkers, compared to typically developing children. I will outline an approach to test this, based on spontaneous speech samples.
Format: online (zoom).


July 9, 2020
LectorAmy Lieberman. Boston University.
Topic: Lexical recognition in deaf children learning ASL: activation of semantic and phonological features of signs.
Format: online (zoom).

July 02, 2020
Lector: Elizaveta Kuznetsova, graduate of the HSE's Cognitive Science and Technology Master's Program.
Topic: A study comparing marketing and semantic associations reflected in the evoked potential of N400.

June 22-24, 2020
Summer Neurolinruistics School.

June 18, 2020
LectorsAnastasiya Kromina, Anastasiya Kaprielova, Sofia Goldina, Anna Laurinavichute and Anastasiya LopukhinaCenter for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Reading studies with eye-movements recording in atypical populations: in adults and children with hearing impairments, as well as in children with dyslexia.

Abstract 1 (by Anastasiya Kromina): Eye-movement Comparison in Reading in Deaf and Hearing Russian Sign Language Speakers.
Phonological deficit affects the deaf’s language development, and they read worse than hearing people. At the same time, the deaf have an advantage in visual processing that helps them read: they have a wider visual perception field and extract characters to the right from the current fixation more efficiently than hearing readers. We compared eye movements while reading of deaf people and people with partial hearing loss, all of them using Russian Sign Language (RSL) on the daily basis. We hypothesized that reading would be more impaired in the deaf and tested whether enhanced peripheral vision helps people with partial hearing loss to the same extent as it helps the deaf. We found that both groups have comparable reading skills. However, some patterns of poorer reading skills were found in deaf individuals. In addition, we found that both deaf and hearing RSL speakers use peripheral vision to a similar degree.

Abstract 2 (by Anastasiya Kaprielova): Eye-movements during Reading in Children with Hearing Loss.
Reading is a complex cognitive skill that plays an important role in the life of every individual. In this study, we analyze eye-tracking data for a unique group of readers – primary school children with hearing loss (or deaf). We compare their eye-movements control group of typically developing children without hearing loss. Two groups of children read the same set of 33 sentences and answered 10 simple comprehension questions while their eye-movements were tracked. The comparison of eye-movements between children with hearing loss and the control group has shown that children with hearing loss use the same reading patterns as hearing efficient readers. Due to the developed peripheral vision and greater parafoveal preview, they display higher probability of skipping a word, the saccade landing position is closer to the center of the word, and they have lower probability of fixating a word more than once. Our participants with hearing loss slowed down on longer words less frequently than the hearing, and had shorter reading times – in particular, shorter single fixation durations and gaze durations. At the same time, their comprehension question response accuracy reached 87%, while typically developing children had 92% of the right answers. The children with hearing loss additionally took part in a visual task experiment, Raven's Progressive Matrices, and an online vocabulary test (the data collection is ongoing).

Abstract 3
(by Anastasiya Lopukhina): Eye movements during reading in Russian children with phonological dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a developmental reading disability that impedes reading fluency and text comprehension and is believed to stem from a phonological deficit. However, a detailed understanding of the influence of phonological deficit on eye movements during reading in children with dyslexia is missing. Our study aimed to investigate the influence of phonological skills and word properties on eye movements during reading in Russian children with dyslexia (N = 29) compared to typically developing children (N = 47). Russian uses the Cyrillic script, which has not yet been investigated in eye movement studies of dyslexia. 

June 11, 2020
Lector: Yulia Akinina. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Title: Verb and Sentence Impairment in Aphasia as Demonstrated by Cluster Analysis.
Abstract: People with aphasia (PWA) often demonstrate verb and sentence processing impairments, in production as well as in comprehension modalities. Meanwhile, patterns of impairment are typically studied at the group level, in groups of PWA with specific aphasia types (e.g., Broca's aphasia), or in case-series with small sample sizes. Our aim was to investigate if there are consistent patterns of impairment on the Russian version of the Verb and Sentence Test (Bastiaanse et al., 2000) in a large group of PWA (N = 54). We used a data-driven classification method that does not require information about aphasia types - k-means cluster analysis - and compared the results with the clinical diagnoses of the PWA. As a follow-up analysis, we used Crawford's single case methodology (Crawford et al., 2010) to further investigate patterns of impairment within the revealed clusters.

June 4, 2020
Lector: Dr. Stephanie J. Forkel. Brain Connectivity and Behaviour Laboratory (BCBLab), Sorbonne Universities & Groupe d'Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle (GIN), CNRS, CEA University of Bordeaux.
Topic: Variability of structural connections within and between the species
Abstract: A large amount of variability exists across human brains; revealed initially on a small scale by postmortem studies and, more recently, on a larger scale with the advent of neuroimaging. MRI-based diffusion-weighted imaging tractography has been used to segment whole brain tractograms and study the subdivisions of the living human brain based on its anatomical connectivity. In recent years, this method has evolved as a comparative anatomy tool allowing us to study the in vivo anatomy on a large scale and across species. Tractography studies revealed some shared and unique patterns of structural connectivity within and across species. During this lecture, I will present some recent MRI-based diffusion imaging applications to study the variability within and across species with a special focus on the frontal and parietal white matter pathways.
Format: online (zoom).

May 21, 2020
Lector: Mark Liberman,  Pofessor at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Linguistic Data Consortium.
Topic: Clinical Applications of Human Language Technology: Opportunities and Challenges.
We infer a lot from the way someone talks: personal characteristics like age, gender, background, personality; contextual characteristics like mood and attitude towards the interaction; physiological characteristics like fatigue or intoxication. Many clinical diagnostic categories have symptoms that are manifest in spoken interaction: autism spectrum disorder, neurodegenerative disorders, schizophrenia, and so on.
The development of modern speech and language technology makes it possible to create automated methods for diagnostic screening or monitoring. More important is the fact that these diagnostic categories are phenotypically diverse, representing (sometimes apparently discontinuous) regions of complex multidimensional behavioral spaces. We can hope that automated analysis of large relevant datasets will allow us to do better science, and learn what the true latent dimensions of those behavioral spaces are. And we can hope for convenient, inexpensive, and psychometrically reliable ways to estimate the efficacy of treatments.
Suggestive preliminary results will be presented, and we will discuss future research opportunities as well as the existing barriers to progress.
Format: online (zoom).

May 14, 2020
Lector: Anna Andreevna Petukhova, research assistant at the Laboratory of Caucasian Languages and a student at the School of Linguistics of the National Research University HSE.
Topic: Corpus study of code switching in a conversation between bilinguals with native Yakut language.
Format: online (zoom).

May 7, 2020
Lector: Victoria Pozdnyakova,research assistant, Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Iconicity in the speech of a healthy and clinical population.
Format: online (zoom).

April 30, 2020
Lector: Dr Caroline Beese, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
Title: Electrophysiological aging disentangles aspects of preservation and decline in sentence processing across the life span.
Abstract: Across the life span, successful language comprehension is crucial for the continued participation in everyday life. While older adults do not have difficulties understanding simple sentences, comprehension difficulties arise when sentences become longer or more complex, that is, more verbal working memory (vWM) demanding. It remained an open question whether the success of sentence comprehension in old age is attributed to the effects of healthy aging on language-specific or domain-general cognitive processes. We recorded the EEG before and during an auditory sentence comprehension task performed by three age groups (24, 43, 65 years). In a first step, we examined whether sentence comprehension success can already be predicted by electrophysiological aging at rest. We found sentence comprehension difficulties in old age associated with an age-related degradation of an electrophysiological theta network that was found relevant for vWM functioning while in contrast a language-specific electrophysiological theta network remained intact across the life span. Given this crucial role of vWM, insufficient vWM resources in old age may also complicate the encoding of language-specific information into memory, yielding age-related sentence comprehension difficulties. To this end, we subsequently compared the encoding-related electrophysiological activity during sentence comprehension across the three age groups. We found age differences in an electrophysiological alpha network commonly linked to inhibitory processes. Possibly, an inhibition of the encoding of some sentence information can be used to avoid overloading limited vWM resources in order to accomplish successful sentence comprehension. In sum, these findings suggest that language decline may be attributed to detrimental effects of healthy aging on domain-general cognitive processes while language-specific processes seem to remain preserved.
Format: online (zoom).

April 17, 2020
Lector: Tatiana Kotova. Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Cognitive Research, Faculty of Psychology, Institute for Social Sciences of RANEPA.
Title: Joint attention and the process of new word acquisition in young children.
Format: online (zoom).

April 16, 2020
Lector: Dr Ioulia Kovelman. Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan.
Title: The Bilingual Brain: Cross-Linguistic Impact on Child Literacy.
Abstract: Learning to read changes mind and brain. How does bilingual experience influence children’s neural architecture for learning to read? Words have sounds and meanings. Logically, learning to read builds upon sound-to-print and meaning-to-print associations. Importantly, there is also significant cross-linguistic variation in how children form these associations. Learning to read in languages like Italian or Spanish prompts children to form stronger sound-to-print associations, while Chinese literacy prompts children to form stronger meaning-to-print associations. To understand how bilingual experiences with such typologically-distinct languages influence reading development, we are studying Spanish-English and Chinese-English bilingual children in the US, ages 5-10. Several key findings emerge from these data that we will discuss during the presentation. First, the findings obviate language-specific differences in phonological and morphological processes for learning to read in Spanish, English, and Chinese. Second, the findings reveal the Universal aspects of literacy development across these typologically-distinct languages. Importantly, the findings reveal principled bilingual transfer effects of derivational morphology in Spanish and compound morphology in Chinese on bilingual children’s literacy in English. Finally, we will consider young bilinguals with reading impairments and the role that the developing morpho-phonological systems of the brain play in learning to read words and sentences in typical and atypical bilingual literacy development. The findings are discussed in light of theoretical perspectives on learning to read, bilingual development, as well as the universal and language-specific aspects of language, literacy, and dyslexia.
Format: online (zoom).

March 19, 2020
Lector: Julia Alexandrovna Griber, Head of the ColorLab laboratory at Smolensk State University.
Topic: linguistics of color and color naming.
Format: online (zoom).

March 19, 2020
Lector: Dr Anna Smirnova Henriques, PhD, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil.
Topic:  Speech and facial expression analysis in late Russian-Portuguese bilinguals.
Abstract:  Our current research project is focused on Russophone immigrants living in São Paulo, Brazil, considered late Russian-Portuguese bilinguals. We are working in the following directions: (1) characterizing the production of Brazilian Portuguese sounds by native Russian speakers living in Brazil; (2) studying the perception of Russian-accented speaker characteristics by native Brazilian speakers; (3) describing the facial expression patterns in late Russian-Portuguese bilinguals and tracing their perception by monolinguals. At the present moment our database contains audio and video recording in Russian and in Brazilian Portuguese from 40 native Russian speaker volunteers living in São Paulo for at least six months. In the next steps, we intend to extend our research to early bilinguals, both children from recently formed mixed Russophone-Brazilian families and old Russophone emigration, currently represented in São Paulo mostly by families who came from Harbin in the 1950s.

February 27, 2020
Lector: Ekaterina Stupina. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Encoding and representation of grammatical gender in foreign word acquisition.
Most models of bilingual mental lexicon are not developmental in nature. They implicitly or explicitly assume that speakers know all words in the second language to a comparable degree, and model interaction between the two languages accordingly. At the same time, since language acquisition is still in progress, different words are acquired at different levels of proficiency. In this talk, I will tell you about my PhD project, in which I study how grammatical gender is encoded and represented in foreign language words and how these representations change over time, as the words are getting integrated into the mental lexicon.

February 6, 2020
Lector: Tatyana Bolgina. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: The Effects of Visual Perception on Countability in Natural Languages.
Abstract: Countability emerges nearly universally as a lexical-syntactic feature among world languages, and this has always been considered as a purely linguistic phenomenon. Nouns referring to objects are marked as count (e.g., a table) and nouns referring to substance are marked as mass (e.g., some water). Empirical studies suggest that mass morphosyntax is more difficult to process than count morphosyntax; some scholars have suggested that this may be related to additional cognitive processing required by mass nouns. Recently, it was shown that mass morphosyntax indeed entails additional cognitive abilities – logical operations such as deduction, abstraction and conservation (Zanini et al., 2017). Given that difference between mass and count nouns refer mainly to a perceptual feature, that is, physical boundaries, in the current study we designed a battery of linguistic and visual tasks to investigate: (i) whether processing of mass/count nouns is related to the visual perception of the entities that those nouns represent; and (ii) if this relation exists, at which stage of visual perception it emerges.

January 30, 2020
Lector: Anastasiya Lopukhina. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: The discussion of the planned experiment with the registration of eye movements in children and adults.

January 16, 2020
Lectors: Maria Ivanova (Berkeley University of California) and Yulia Akinina (HSE Center for Language and Brain).
Topic: Russian Aphasiological Test (RAT).

December 5, 2019
Lector: Victoria Reshetnikova. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Speakaboo: monolingual and bilingual data.

November 28, 2019
Lector: Dr. Marie Arsalidou. School of Psychology HSE.
Topic: Cognitive over-performance in school aged children.
Abstract: Cognitive abilities are associated with academic achievement and professional success. Psychologists use various methods in evaluation cognitive abilities. Intelligence tests remain popular in psychology, however neuroscientists are moving towards findings improved methods for assessing behavioral and neurofunctional correlates of cognitive abilities, such as working memory and mental attention. I consider mental attention as the maturational component of working memory. In this seminar, I will focus on behavioural assessments of mental attentional capacity in school-aged children in Toronto and Moscow, and functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI data in adults. Implications to cognitive science and education will be discussed.

November 21, 2019
Lector: Dr. Olga Svarnik. Institute of Psychology RAS.
Topic: Principles of the brain functioning.

November 18-20, 2019
Dr. Kasper Boye. University of Copenhagen. 
Topic 1: What is grammar and how does it develop?
Abstract 1: This talk first outlines main differences between generative linguistics and usage-based linguistics, and then presents a usage-based theory of what grammar is. Based on this theory, the talk develops a usage-based understanding of grammaticalization (i.e. the diachronic development of grammar) and discusses a challenge that this phenomenon presents to psycho- and neurolinguistics studies of the grammatical-lexical distinction. Subsequently, the talk places grammatical items in a typology of linguistic signs and sketches a hypothesis about the order in which the different sign types emerged in the phylogenesis of language.

Topic 2: Psycho- and neurolinguistics implications of a usage-based theory of grammar
Abstract 2: After a brief outline of a usage-based theory of what grammar is, this talk presents a series of recent psycho- and neurolinguistic studies that support the theory. The studies are of three kinds:

  1. experimental studies of language perception in non-brain-damaged individuals;
  2. experimental studies of language production in brain-damaged and non-brain-damaged individuals;
  3. corpus studies of grammatically impaired speech of brain-damaged individuals. The talk then proposes a theory of grammatical impairment, and discusses a challenge by recent data from a polysynthetic language.


November 14-15, 2019
Lector: Dr. Adrià Rofes. University of Groningen.
Topic 1: Informing language models with electrical stimulation.
Abstract 1: Numerous advances were made since the seminal work of George Ojemann (1983). These include description of common practices, discussions of advantages/disadvantages of intraoperative tasks, test standardization, ethical conditions, and a growing interest in the neural substrates of cognitive functions including. In this talk, I will discuss how knowledge on cognitive models of language can be pushed forward with electrical stimulation studies. To do so, I will draw parallels between the awake surgery literature and other aphasia studies, and show how new intraoperative protocols can be used to inform such models.

Topic 2: Perspectives on presurgical mapping, prehabilitation, and language monitoring.
Abstract 2: Language testing in awake surgery is much more than intraoperative language mapping. In this talk, I will go over presurgical mapping and discuss one of their main limitations for translation in the operative room, namely, brain shift. Furthermore, I will go over recent work on preoperative techniques that can be employed to maximize patient performance during surgery (i.e., prehabilitation). Finally, I will discuss strategies to assess the patient capacities during surgery.

October 31, 2019
Lector: Dr. Manfred Stede. University of Potsdam.
Topic: Theoretical and applied studies of discourse: Applied CompLing Discourse Research Lab projects.

October 24, 2019
Lector: Yulia Akinina. Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Creative Commons license.


October 4, 2019
Lector: Marina Sokolova. University of Southampton, UK.
Topic: Evidence for Prediction-based Processing in Native and Non-Native Speakers of Russian and English.
Abstract: Human sentence comprehension does not rely on lexical meaning of words exclusively. To process a sentence, people build mental models where every word has its own place. There is a body of literature showing that mental sentence modelling is the same in native and non-native languages (Fulanito 1998, Menganita 2002, Dekydtspotter et al 2008). But what makes the brain anticipate a certain structure? How exactly does a new word find its place in the existing structure? 
This presentation discusses a series of behavioral studies on generation and development of a mental structural projection when the brain needs to process a complex sentence. There is crosslinguistic variation in interpretation of ambiguous relative clauses (RC) (Cuetos & Mitchel 1988, Hemforth, Konieczny, & Scheepers 1998, Zagar, Pynte, & Rativeau 1997, Fodor 2002). My studies use this ambiguity to show that mental structure building starts with a syntactic prediction triggered by the main verb (Grillo & Costa 2014, Grillo et al 2015). The type of verb guides RC attachment resolution and this leads to restrictions on available interpretations of the anaphora contained within and at the tail end of the relative clause.
The studies that I will report trace several processing cycles among native and non-native speakers (Phillips and Schneider 2000) and I will discuss how structural predictions made earlier in the sentence influence the processing of later segments and the final decision on sentence interpretation.

August 29, 2019
Lector:  Dr. Maria Ivanova. Aphasia Recovery Lab, Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley & Center for Language and Brain National Research University HSE.
Topic: Finding the right path: Comparing different tracking algorithms using automatic tract segmentation.
Abstract: Delineation of the underlying fiber connections that support behavioral networks has become a major endeavor in cognitive neuroscience, with diffusion magnetic resonance imaging proving to be a valuable tool for determining their structural anatomy and assessing damage to white matter pathways that affect cognition. Despite these advances, significant discrepancies exist across studies regarding the contributions made by each of the major fiber pathways, particularly as they relate to language pathology. Major differences in methods of analysis and delineations of tract anatomy have made comparisons or aggregation of data across studies problematic. In this talk, I will first provide an overview of different iterative tractography algorithms. Then based on a stroke sample I will demonstrate how their differences might impact the uncovered brain-behavior associations. I will conclude by exploring how we can provide a more definitive answer on the differential role that white matter pathways play in cognition by simultaneously investigating different tractography algorithms and analytically combining their results.

August 28, 2019
Lector:  Alice Pomstra. University of Groningen.
Topic: EMCL and IDEALAB programs.
Abstract: Both the EMCL and IDEALAB are basically founded to spread out the knowledge embedded in the University of Potsdam, University of Groningen and later the University of Eastern Finland in the field of Clinical Linguistic over the world. In 2004 the EMCL was awarded the Erasmus Mundus status. This Research Master programme has been very successful ever since and until now in 2019. The only problem was that excellent students from the ECML master’s programme were lost since there was no PhD programme that connected to the EMCL although we would like to keep the students for ourselves. When the EU launched a programme for Erasmus Mundus international doctoral programmes the two founders of the EMCL applied and succeeded. The goal of IDEALAB is to train excellent young researchers. The ones who are already in the programme and the candidates we selected are often very good, we would like for them the best training possible and we think that that is, for our purpose, the training programme of IDEALAB. The goal is also that those students will become successors: young researchers are needed who can take over. We hope to educate and train them ourselves. There are already a few but we want to have a whole generation of good researchers in the field of language and the brain and that goes for language acquisition disorders, dyslexia, aphasia, neuroimaging etc.

August 14, 2019
Lector: Dr. Anna Chrabaszcz. University of Pittsburgh & National Research University Higher School of Economics.
Topic: What brain oscillations can tell us about subcortical involvement in lexical processing. 

July 11, 2019
Lector: Dr. Maria Geffen. University of Pennsylvania.
Topic: Cortical mechanisms for dynamic auditory processing and learning.

June 29, 2019
Lector: Brendan Weeks. Hong Kong University.
Topic: Literacy in contact - Reading and writing in multiliterate speakers along the Silk Road.

June 27, 2019
Lector: Olga Buivolova. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: workshop "Writing a Persuasive Cover Letter" and will discuss the most interesting talks from the Nordic Aphasia Conference.

June 21, 2019
Lectors: Kuzovlev Artem Nikolaevich. V. A. Negovsky Research Institute of General resuscitation. Teplykh Boris Anatolyevich. N.I. Pirogov National Medical and Surgical Center.
Topic: Brain damage biomarkers.

June 20, 2019
Lector: Svetlana Malyutina and Maria Khudyakova. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Scientific battles in psycho-and neurolinguistics.

June 13, 2019
Lector: Nina Zdorova. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Anaphora Resolution of Null and Overt Pronouns in Adult Spanish Learners.
Abstract: The processing of null and overt pronouns as referential issue in pro-drop languages (for ex., Spanish and Italian) has been widely investigated, though remains still highly debatable. In Italian, according to Carminati (2002), null pronouns are associated by a recipient with their subject antecedent, whereas overt pronouns are associated with their object antecedent. However, this model can not be fully applied in Spanish, as demonstrated on the Spanish native speakers by Filiaci (2011). Neither it was proved in English-Spanish bilinguals by Keating et al. (2011). My self-paced reading experiment, conducted on the Russian native speakers who are L2 of Spanish, contributes to this discussion. The question is, whether Russian native speakers demonstrate bias in processing of null and overt pronouns in Spanish as Russian differs typologically from both, English and Spanish.

Lector: Elena Savinova. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: The role of naming probe and cue type: can they compensate for age-related changes in lexical retrieval?
Abstract: There is ample evidence of negative age-related changes in lexical retrieval, which are reflected in longer times needed to remember words and even failures to retrieve them. However, the question of whether and how these changes can be mitigated remains only marginally addressed. We combined referential and inferential naming tasks and two types of cueing in order to study their possible compensatory effects for age-related changes in lexical retrieval. The experiment consisted of picture naming (referential retrieval) and naming from definition (inferential retrieval) in cued and non-cued conditions. Analyses of reaction times and accuracy rates showed that referential and inferential naming abilities are similarly affected by age. Thus, there seems to be no compensatory effect in reliance on visual or verbal semantic information in lexical retrieval. The results also revealed a main positive effect of letter cues, which was universal across tasks and ages. Collocational cues were found to impede participants’ performance in terms of reaction times, but assist in eventual word retrieval. The results suggest that additional phonological information is helpful in lexical retrieval regardless of the way the concept is triggered. Additional contextual information about a word appears to be helpful only in its inferential retrieval. Sensitivity to effective cueing is preserved in healthy aging.

Lector: Svetlana Malyutina. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Brief presentation of a research proposal for a study comparing objective measures and subjective complaints of age-related lexical difficulties. Memory research shows that objective measures and subjective complaints do not correlate well. We are planning to test whether the same is true for language processing and would appreciate feedback on the study design.

May 22, 2019
Lector: Alfredo Ardila. Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Florida International University, Miami.
Topic: Aphasia of the supplementary motor area.
Abstract: Supplementary motor area (SMA) plays a complex role in language. Language disturbances associated with SMA pathology have sometimes been named as “aphasia of the SMA” or simply “SMA aphasia”. However, this type of aphasia is unusual and it is not even included in classical aphasia classifications. Many published papers refer to the speech and language disorders associated with SMA damage, but only three of them name this disorder as “aphasia”. It is reported that damage in the SMA results in both speech (posterior SMA, including speech automatization, initiation, timing control, and monitoring speech) and language disorders (pre-SMA, including working memory, word production, lexical disambiguation, context-tracking, monitoring, inhibition of erroneous language representations, and inner language). It is concluded that regardless of its rarity, it is evident that damage in the left SMA usually results in a clinical syndrome that clearly corresponds to an aphasia. Interpreting it as an aphasia can aid in overcoming the limited idea of a “language zone” located in the perisylvian area of the left hemisphere, that was proposed over one century ago.

April 25, 2019
Lector:  Aleksey Kosenko. Teacher and psychologist.
Topic: The problem of diagnosing dyslexia, dysgraphia, and acalculia: a psychological and pedagogical approach.

April 18, 2019
Lector: Roelien Bastiaanse. Center for Language and Brain; University of Groningen.
Topic: Two treatment studies in aphasia: the merits of the Multiple Baseline Across Behaviors design.
Abstract: In the medical world, Randomized Control Trial is the gold standard. However, such a design may be recommendable for drug treatment, but it is not suitable to test the efficacy of aphasia therapy. The reason is the diversity of underlying language impairments and the variety of concomitant cognitive disorders. Within Aphasiology, the Multiple Baseline Across Behaviors design is quite popular. In this design, the aphasic participant is his own control.
The design will be sketched and the advantages will be discussed. Two examples of treatment studies will be given: one to training auditory word comprehension and one to verb and sentence production.

April 11, 2019
Lector: Galina Ryazanskaya. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Methods of Automated Discourse Analysis in Schizophrenia.
Abstract: I will present my ongoing study in clinical linguistics. My goal is to compare formal linguistic measures of discourse coherence to automated metrics acquired through word2vec and LSA, as well as psychiatric diagnostic criteria and “common sense” understandability of a text. I want to conduct this research because one of the most important diagnostic criteria for psychosis is disordered speech. However, most psychiatric manuals fail to define speech incoherence in any robust way. Even in RDoC language is even as a simple homogeneous concept. My study is aimed (somewhat ambitiously) at closing the gap between psychiatry and linguistic.

April 4, 2019
Lector: Yulia Akinina. Center for Language and Brain.
Abstract: I will talk about CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) - a system of acknowledgment designed to increase transparency of collaborator contributions to journal articles. A relatively recent effort, it is now recognized and encouraged by a growing number of publishers, including PLOS and Elsevier.

Lector: Anna Artemova. Center for Language and Brain.
Abstract: I will talk about the project on the KORABLIC adaptation to mono- and bilingual children in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Nenets-dominant bilingual children nomadize with their families and mostly speak Nenets until they are 7 years old when they go to the boarding school and study in Russian there. There is no instrument to assess the language level of the children in order to adjust the school program to them. The KORABLIC is the language assessment battery developed in the Center of Language and Brain. So far, we tested the children with the current test version. I will review the preliminary results of the accuracy analysis and discuss the other variants of analysis.

March 28, 2019
Lector: Svetlana Malyutina. Center for Language and Brain.
Abstract: I will provide a short summary of the workshop "International Style in Academic Writing: Why Pursue Clarity and Avoid Complexity" that she has attended at the HSE Academic Writing Center. The workshop offered tips on how to improve the clarity and say more with fewer words when writing academic papers in English.

Lector: Anastasiia Kaprielova. Center for Language and Brain.
Abstract: I will talk about semantic ambiguity processing during reading. How can people effectively understand ambiguous messages? The possible answer is that understanding is not always effective, and ambiguity may not be resolved at all. We’re dealing with the resolution of lexical ambiguity in order to find out whether there underspecification during its processing.

Lector: Anastasia Kromina. Center for Language and Brain.
Abstract: I will present the results of the study on eye-movement control in the Visual World Paradigm. This study aimed to investigate whether a person can fully control eye movements and whether the nature of fixations depends on a task.

March 25, 2019
Lector: Giorgio Arcara. MEG Lab, San Camillo Hospital and Research Center, Venice, Italy.
Topic: Investigating the brain networks for the assessment and rehabilitation of neurological disorders: the research agenda of Venice MEGLab.
Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss the main research lines of Venice MEGLab, at IRCCS San Camillo Hospital. The mission of our lab is the improvement of assessment and rehabilitation of patients with stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and brain tumor. I will discuss the main studies we are conducting, both on basic and applied research. In particular, I will present results from a study on mental calculation, on language comprehension, results from two studies on the effect of tDCS (transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) on brain activity and connectivity, and some results on language mapping obtained with MEG. Finally, I will present the software we are developing at the MEGLab for the analysis of MEG Brain Networks.

March 21, 2019
Lector: Victor Karpychev. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Reliable biomarkersof epilepsy.
Abstract: Epilepsy is one of the most severe neurological diseases, affecting about 1% of the world population. Nowadays, about one-third of patients remains refractory to pharmacological treatment. The epileptogenic zone (EZ) is defined as the brain tissue is responsible for the generation of epileptic seizures and must be completely removed or disconnected by the surgery. However, the complete removal or disabling of the EZ is possible only when the exact localization of the brain areas which generate clinical seizures is known. Therefore, reliable biomarkers for the delineation of EZ from the neuronal activity are highly desirable. I will talk about two lines of investigation for the validation of new reliable biomarker of epileptogenicity: high-frequency oscillations and connectivity analysis.

Lector: Vardan Arutiunian. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Neurolinguistic studies of language processing in children with ASD.

March 14, 2019
Lector: Anastasiya Lopukhina. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Good-enough sentence processing in adolescents.
Abstract: Several studies have shown that 13-19-year-old adolescents continue to acquire language competence and linguistic strategies (Blakemore, 2012; Dahl, 2004; Nippold, 2006). However, most studies on adolescents have been focused on semantic and discourse processing (Nippold, 1998, 2000, 2006; Nippold and Sun, 2008) and little is known about syntactic processing and the usage of syntactic strategies. In four self-paced reading experiments, we test how Russian-speaking adolescents use good-enough (Ferreira & Patson, 2007) vs. algorithmic sentence processing strategies when reading grammatically complex sentences.

February 28, 2019
Lector:  Nina Ladinskaya. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Acquisition of Russian case paradigm by monolingual and bilingual children.
Abstract: Being a morphologically rich language with a complex system of nominal inflection, Russian presents an interesting case for studying the order in which case inflections are acquired. There exists a number of studies on the acquisition of the Russian case system by monolingual Russian-speaking children (Ceytlin:2000, Gvozdev:1961), but the data are scare, heterogeneous and mostly comes from longitudinal studies.
While there is an undeniable benefit in longitudinal studies of L1 development, this approach makes it difficult to probe what the learners do and do not know at a particular time of language development. Additionally, evidence is lacking for the bilingual setting of language acquisition – do bilingual Russian-speaking children acquire case inflections in the same order as monolingual Russian-speaking children? We propose a psycholinguistic experiment to probe the knowledge of case inflections by monolingual and bilingual Russian-speaking children with the goal to document how language interaction affects acquisition of case morphology.

February 26, 2019
Lector: Mariya Khudyakova and Vardan Arutiunian. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Experimental studies of the Tuyuka language.

February 21, 2019
Lector: Roelien Bastiaanse. Center for Language and Brain; University of Groningen.
Topic: Presurgical language mapping.
Abstract: Patients with brain tumors in or around the language areas are more and more often operated awake, to monitor the language functions. This is a very demanding procedure, both for the patient and for the neurosurgical team. Navigated TMS (nTMS) may help us, to identify the cortical language areas before surgery. Although it is still a very novel and experimental method, it has already been shown that it may shorten the awake period and that the craniotomy can be smaller, because the neurosurgeon can use the information from nTMS in his/her approach to the tumor. However, the development of linguistically well-motivated tests is still in its infancy. The requirements of such tests will be discussed.

February 07, 2019

Lector: Svetlana Malyutina. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Cortical and structural-connectivity damage correlated with impaired syntactic processing in aphasia.

January 31, 2019
Lector:  Xenia Dmitrieva. CIMeC, University of Trento, Italy and Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
Topic: Predicting the trajectory of language acquisition from the development of resting-state networks.
Abstract: Among developmental impairments, developmental language impairment is one of the most common deficits, affecting 5 to 8 % of preschool children and often persisting into the school years. There is evidence that early interventions, that is, at preschool age, improve the patient’s conditions significantly better than interventions applied at later stages of development. In light of this, researchers aim at investigating the trajectory of language development from early on, in order to find the most accurate way for the prediction of later language outcome. The aim of this study was to investigate via the human electroencephalogram whether the development of alpha-band peak frequency and the power spectral density at this frequency across the first decade of life can predict the later language outcome.

January 24, 2019
Lector:  Kirill Elin. Center for Language and Brain
Topic: Morphological processing in older adults. Evidence from Russian and German.
Abstract: Over the last decades the mechanisms of recognition of morphologically complex words have been extensively examined in order to determine whether all word forms are stored and retrieved from the mental lexicon as wholes or whether they are decomposed into their morphological constituents such as stems and affixes. Most of the research in this domain focuses on English. Several factors have been argued to affect the morphological processing including, for instance, the morphological structure of a word (e.g., existence of allomorphic stem alternations) and its linguistic nature (e.g., whether it is a derived word or an inflected word form). It is not clear, however, whether processing accounts based on experimental evidence from English would hold for other languages. Furthermore, there is evidence that processing mechanisms may differ across various populations including children, adult native speakers and language learners. Recent studies claim that processing mechanisms could also differ between older and younger adults (Clahsen & Reifegerste, 2017; Reifegerste et al., 2017).
The present thesis examined how properties of the morphological structure, types of linguistic operations involved (i.e., the linguistic contrast between inflection and derivation) and characteristics of the particular population such as older adults (e.g., potential effects of ageing as a result of the cognitive decline or greater experience and exposure of older adults) affect initial, supposedly automatic stages of morphological processing in Russian and German. To this end, a series of masked priming experiments was conducted.

January 17, 2019

Lector:  Ekaterina Stupina. Center for Language and Brain.
Topic: Gender acquisition and picture superiority effect in vocabulary learning.
Abstract: The lector presented an experimental design of a new study on the effects of word learning strategy on the acquisition of noun gender. While learning new L2 words through L1 translations remains a most common strategy, little research has been done to assess its efficiency relative to other strategies. In the current study, learning outcomes for L1 translations method and the pictorial method are compared. The pictorial method is based on the picture superiority effect - the finding in the memory research that pictures are remembered better than words. Previous studies on the benefits of the pictorial method for L2 vocabulary learning have focused on the acquisition of the word form. However, in order to use the word correctly, in addition to the word form, one must also learn the grammatical properties of the word (e.g., noun gender).

Neurolinguistics Thursdays 2018


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