Center for Research in Language CRL Newsletter
December, 2004
M a i n
A r t i c l e
I n f o r m a t i o n

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Professors Maria Polinsky and Marta Kutas have been appointed as Co-Directors of the Center for Research in Language effective November 1, 2004.

Dr. Polinsky, is professor and past chair in the department of Linguistics whose research interests include language universals and their explanation, comparative syntactic theory, and the expression of information structure in natural language.  Her laboratory is currently pursuing issues of "Variation in Control Structures".

Dr. Kutas, a professor in the department of Cognitive Science, is an expert on human cognition and neuropsychology, electrophysiological and experimental methods of assessing human information processing, and language comprehension and production. These days her laboratory is pursuing issues of pre-activation (prediction) in language, hemispheric differences, role of mood in cognitive processing, role of aging in memory and language, and analytic advances in understanding event-related brain potentials (ERPs).

In early January, CRL held a townhall meeting for the community of researchers to discuss new directions for the Center.  We decided to hold a series of workshops and seminars in the upcoming year.  The first workshop will be held in March on automated speech recognition, which will be given by UCSD Linguistics alumnus Bill Byrne, Director of Voice Solutions at the SAP Labs.

Some of the topics of this first workshop will include:

  • How "human" should automated speech-recognition applications be?
  • To what extent do the patterns of spoken discourse influence users of such applications?
  • How cognitively distinct are human-to-human spoken interactions vs. human-to-computer speech-based interactions?
  • How could we measure this difference?

Other workshops planned are on Aphasia, integrating theory with clinical practice for communication disorders, and neuroimaging of language, among other topics.

New Researchers at CRL

Jennie Pyers began her postdoctoral position on September 3rd, 2004. She is currently working with Dr. Karen Emmorey on a project on the bilingual-bimodal language processing in hearing children of deaf adults. She has begun a study specifically examining the conditions of code-switching of ASL and English.

In addition to this work, Jennie has presented her work on the relationship between language and cognition in learners of Nicaraguan Signers at the Theoretical Issues in Sign Langauge Research Meeting in Barcelona and at the Wenner-Gren symposium on the Roots of Human Sociality.

She has also been working on a paper on the emergence of theory of mind understanding in learners of an emerging language for Child Development, and a chapter on the use of space in role shifting in Nicaraguan Sign Language.

Frederic Dick was given an appointment as an Assistant Research Scientist in CRL, effective September 1, 2004-June 30, 2006. Fred was a graduate student in CRL. He now works as a lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. He recently received a "New Investigator Award" from the British Medical Research Council.

New graduate students in the JDP in Language & Communicative Disorders

Marguerite McQuire came to us from Atlanta , Georgia , though she grew up in San Juan , Puerto Rico . She speaks Spanish, French and English. She graduated from Brown University in 2002 with degrees in Psychology and French. She used her language skills while being a research assistant in Nice , France last year. Marguerite's current research interest is in brain-language relations.

Herbert Pickell, better known as Bert, grew up in Madison , Wisconsin . He graduated from Pepperdine University and also received his M.A. there in Education. Both of Bert's parents are deaf, along with many relatives on his mother's side. He has pioneered a camp program for kids like himself, hearing with deaf parents. This remains the only one of its kind in America . He also serves the organization CODA (Children of Deaf Adults), Intl as chair of their KODA (Kids of Deaf Adults) Outreach Committee. Last year Bert was honored with one of the most prestigious awards one can receive from the deaf community for "Outstanding Service to the Deaf Community." Bert has recently been invited to speak about CODA and run a short camp program for KODA in Argentina at their National Deaf Congress in March. Bert has been working with Ursula Bellugi for 3+ years and does research in sign language aphasia.

Josée Poirier has a First-Class Honours BA in Linguistics with a minor in Psychology from McGill University ( Montréal , Canada ). A portion of her degree was completed in Belgium (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and in Italy (Centro Linguistico Dante Alighieri, Florence ). In her honours thesis, she considered theoretical issues about agrammatism. Her research interests lie in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. She is currently working on on-line sentence processing with Dr. Lewis Shapiro and Dr. David Swinney. She was awarded a J. Armand Bombardier Internationalist Fellowship in the summer 2004.

CRL Visitors

Jan 10-14: Heike Behrens from the University of Groningen , The Netherlands

Feb 7-9: Mary Hare, Bowling Green University & Ken McRae, University of Western Ontario

Recent Papers

Bates, E., Saygin, A.P., Moineau, S., Marangolo, P. & Pizzamiglio, L. (2005). Analyzing aphasia data in a multidimensional symptom space. Brain and Language, 92, 106-116.

Coulson, S. & Lovett, C. (2004). Handedness, hemispheric asymmetries, and joke comprehension. Cognitive Brain Research, 19(3), 275-288.

Coulson, S., Federmeier, K.D., Van Petten, C., Kutas, M. (2005). Right Hemisphere Sensitivity to Word- and Sentence-Level Context: Evidence From Event-Related Brain Potentials. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 31(1),129-147.

Coulson, S., Williams, R.F. (2005). Hemispheric asymmetries and joke comprehension. Neuropsychologia, 43(1),128-141.

Dick, F ., Elman, J., Stiles, J. (2004). Elizabeth Bates: A scientific obituary. Developmental Science. 7(2), iii-i.

Joyce, C.A., Gorodnitsky, I.F., Kutas, M. (2004). Automatic removal of eye movement and blink artifacts from EEG data using blind component separation. Psychophysiology, 41(2), 313-325.

Kemmer, L., Coulson, S., De Ochoa, E., Kutas, M. (2004). Syntactic processing with aging: An event-related potential study. Psychophysiology, 41(3), 372-384.

Moreno , E.M., Kutas M. (2005). Processing semantic anomalies in two languages: an electrophysiological exploration in both languages of Spanish-English bilinguals. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res., 22(2), 205-20.

Sandler, W., Meir, I., Padden, C. and Aronoff, M. 2005. "The emergence of grammar: Sytematic structure in a new language" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(4), ??.

Saygin, A.P., Wilson , S.M., Hagler Jr., D.J., Bates, E., & Sereno, M.I. (2004). Point-light biological motion perception activates human premotor cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 6181 - 6188.

Saygin, A.P., Wilson, S.M. Dronkers, N. & Bates, E. (2004). Action comprehension in aphasia: Linguistic and non-linguistic deficits and their lesion correlates. Neuropsychologia, 42, 1788-1804.

Urbach, T.P., Woindmann S.S., Payne D.G., & Kutas, M. (2005). Mismaking memories. Psychol. Science,16(1),19-24.

Wicha, N.Y.Y., Moreno , E.M., Kutas, M. (2004). Anticipating words and their gender: An event-related brain potential study of semantic integration, gender expectancy, and gender agreement in Spanish sentence reading. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience,16(7),1272-1288.

Wilson , S.M., Saygin, A.P., Sereno, M.I., Iacoboni, M. (2004). Listening to speech activates motor areas involved in speech production. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 701 - 702.

Wilson, S.M. & Saygin, A.P. (2004). Grammaticality judgment in aphasia: Deficits are not specific to syntactic structures, aphasic syndromes or lesion sites. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16(2), 238-252.

Recent Posters

Borovsky, A., Saygin, A.P., Dronkers, N.F., & Bates, E. (2005). Lesion mapping of word class deficits in conversational speech production in aphasic stroke patients. To be presented at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, April 10 - 12, 2005, New York , NY .

Saygin, A.P., Dick, F., Moineau, S., Bates, E., Dronkers, N.F. & Sereno, M.I. (2005). Functional MRI reveals brain regions subserving recovery of speech comprehension in an aphasic patient with a lesion including Wernicke's area and severe residual environmental sound comprehension deficits. To be presented at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, April 10 - 12, 2005, New York , NY .

Recent Conference Presentations

Cummings, A., Saygin, A.P., Dick, F., Bates, E. (2004). Is there a dissociation between verbal and environmental sound processing in young children? 14th Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, May 5-8, 2004, Chicago , Illinois .

Dick, F., Saygin, A.P., Paulsen, C., Trauner, D., & Bates, E. (2004). The co-development of environmental sound and language comprehension in school-age children. Symposium on Attention and Performance XXI: Processes of Change in Brain and Cognitive Development Iron Horse, Colorado , July, 2004.

Borovsky, A., Saygin, A.P., Wilson, S.M., Dronkers, N.F., & Bates, E. (2004). Lesion mapping of conversational speech production deficits in aphasic patients. 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Elizabeth Bates Graduate Research Fund

The Center for Research in Language provides awards to assist affiliated graduate students in their research. The first call for proposals will be in the 2006-07 year. The fund was created in memory of Elizabeth A. Bates, former director of the Center. Information will be available on the CRL website.

If you wish to contribute to this fund in memory of Elizabeth Bates, please send to: Elizabeth Bates Graduate Research Fund, c/o Center for Research in Language - MC 0526; University of California , San Diego ; La Jolla , California 92093-0526 (checks payable to Regents of UC). In keeping with Professor Bates' deep commitment to supporting students, this fund is used to assist graduate students in their research, emphasizing the many areas in which Professor Bates made pioneering contributions.

NIH Fellowship Opportunities at CRL

The Center for Research in Language has a training program, "Language, Communication, and the Brain." The NIDCD-funded grant supports 2 post-doctoral trainees and 6 pre-doctoral trainees. Applications for postdoctoral positions are solicited every March 1. (See our website for details.) Predoctoral trainees are selected by the executive committee of the training grant. Graduate students who are interested in participating in this program, or your faculty advisor, should contact a member of the committee to indicate your interest. The executive committee members are: Marta Kutas, Cognitive Science (Director of Program); Jeffrey Elman, Cognitive Science; Maria Polinsky, Linguistics; Martin Sereno, Cognitive Science; David Swinney, Psychology; and Beverly Wulfeck, Language & Communicative Disorders.

In addition, the Institute for Neural Computation offers pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships. The application deadline is April 1. For details, please refer to the INC website at .

CRL Around The World

Below are some links to some research institues around the world that are part of the CRL community: