First Phase Projects

In the first phase of the Language in Interaction consortium, the consortium was organized into Work Packages. These Work Packages were largely integrated into the Big Questions at the mid-way point of the consortium. This page details information on the original Work Packages and projects stemming from them. PhD candidates that were part of the original Work Packages are listed at the bottom.

Work Package 1: Speech Perception and Production in Interaction

The focus of this work package was on the primary mode of language for which our brain is evolutionarily adapted, namely the production and comprehension of spoken language. These adaptations have shaped our auditory and motor cortices in directions that allow us to perceive and produce the speech sounds which form, respectively, the entry point to or exit point from knowledge stored in long-term memory.

The key innovation of WP1 is the bridging from expertise in the neurobiological foundations of perceptual and motor processes to psycholinguistic expertise in the perception and production of speech.  It thus aims to advance understanding of how speech perception and production interact by linking neural, psychological and linguistic levels of analysis. This novel multi-disciplinary approach generates new insights precisely because speech has special characteristics. Specialised neurobiological infrastructure is adapted to these characteristics by evolutionary selection, and enables infants to perceive and produce speech without explicit instruction. Genetic diversity, however, may also have led to variability in this infrastructure, and to variability across languages (e.g. tone vs. non-tone languages) in the demand imposed on auditory and motor systems. In line with the overarching quest of the Language in Interaction consortium, it is therefore necessary to distinguish processes reflecting language-universal constraints from those reflecting linguistic diversity.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 1 and 4.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Anne Cutler
Prof. dr. Miriam Ernestus
Prof dr. Elia Formisano
Prof. dr. James McQueen

Prof. dr. John van Opstal
Prof. dr. Niels Schiller
Prof. dr. Ivan Toni
Prof. dr. Jean Vroomen

WP1 Postdoc

Dr. Frank Eisner

Work Package 2: Semantic and Conceptual Basis of Language

The focus of this work package was on the mnemonic structures that are necessary to build and use semantic content and conceptual knowledge: how information is retrieved from memory to give linguistic expressions their content. In turn, the language system builds on existing memory structures which co-determine the organization of linguistic knowledge. The mnemonic structures are laid down during development. WP2 aims to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the development, structuring and deployment of abstract representations for both linguistic and mnemonic domains.

The key innovation of WP2 is the unique collection of experts from different fields which provides the necessary interdisciplinary resources for investigating up-close the interplay of language and memory; the opportunity to study how linguistic structures can provide a basis for mnemonic tasks and, conversely, how pre-existing mnemonic structures can support the formation of linguistic knowledge. Moreover, WP2 will ultimately provide a mechanistic model of conceptual semantic memory which will be a crucial asset for the overarching quest of the Language in Interaction consortium. In particular, this will provide novel fundamental insights on the relationship between the developmental aspects of memory and language and the role of constraining universals in language variation, on the one hand, and on the role of mnemonic system for a language ready brain.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 1 and 4.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Johan van Benthem
Prof. dr. Christian Döller
Prof dr. Guillén Fernandez

Prof. dr. Asifa Majid
Prof. dr. Robert van Rooij
Prof. dr. Jaap Murre

WP2 Postdoc

Dr. David Neville

Work Package 3: Compositionality and Contextuality

WP 1 addressed the primary mode of language for which our brain is evolutionarily adapted, namely p

The focus of this WP WAS on the largely open question of how the mechanism of binding is realized in distributed cortical networks along different time scales. Regarding the temporal configuration, current theories on neural processing point to transient synchrony of neuronal spiking as the neural correlate of information transmission between brain areas. Different spike-time-dependent mechanisms for flexible binding are investigated that will then be incorporated in a neurally plausible model of language processing. The role of different brain areas, such as Broca’s area, that seem to be involved in binding will also be investigated.

Key innovation is the unification of abstract computational accounts of compositionality and contextuality, that have been formalized in recent years at the mathematical level, with implementations of binding that have neural plausibility.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 1 and 4.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Peter Hagoort
Prof. dr. Karl-Magnus Petersson
Prof dr. Herbert Schriefers

Prof. dr. Rens Bod
Prof. dr. Michiel van Lambalgen

WP3 Postdoc

Dr. Hartmut Fitz

Work Package 4: Language in Action

The focus of this work package was on language processing during social interaction. Language users operate in a constantly variable and dynamic context, provided by multimodal sources of information; they need to combine linguistic input with visual and other sensory aspects of the communicative interaction. To do this they also need a flexible cognitive control system. Although at a behavioural level there are detailed descriptions of multimodal language use in social interaction, the neural and cognitive infrastructure of this unique human ability is poorly understood. Research within the work package aims to explain these complex neural processes through the interplay between language and other cognitive systems in the brain.

The key innovation of WP4 lies in its composition. The work package brings together renowned scientists who are experts in the areas of perception, action, prediction and multisensory integration outside of the domain of language, and those who are experts in the relations between action understanding, communicative actions (gestures, signs) and cognitive control in the domain of language. WP4 aims to also include clinical populations (Parkinson’s, autism), and provide better understanding of these conditions.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 3 and 5.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Harold Bekkering
Prof. dr. Asli Ozyurek
Prof. dr. Pieter Medendorp

Prof. dr. Ardi Roelofs
Prof. dr. Roshan Cools
Prof. dr. Rolf Zwaan

WP4 Postdoc

Dr. Irina Simanova

Work Package 5: Language Evolution and Diversity

The focus of this work package was on exploring the biological underpinnings of linguistic universality as well as diversity, both at the population level (between species), at the linguistic level (between languages and dialects), and at the individual level (between speakers).

Key innovation is the highly interdisciplinary composition of the work package. It brings together PIs from five relevant disciplines: linguistic anthropology, linguistics, psycholinguistics, genetics, and biology. The central strategy will be to explore both the universality and variability in the learning mechanisms and neurobiological infrastructure subserving language. WP5 will aid in shaping the overall focus on variability across all components studied in the consortium.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 2, 3 and 4.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Simon Fisher
Prof. dr. Pieter Muysken
Prof. dr. Antje Meyer

Prof. dr. Carel ten Cate
Prof. dr. Stephen Levinson

WP5 Postdoc

Dr. Hans Rutger Bosker

Work Package 6: Toolkit

The focus of this work package was on supporting the scientific WPs by developing and facilitating the use of cutting edge technologies such as structural and functional imaging, neural modelling, genomics, cognomics and genetic imaging in order to investigate the biological underpinnings of language, and by providing the clinical infrastructure of studying language problems in clinical conditions.

Key innovation revolves around using state-of-the-art imaging and genomic technologies to investigate the dynamic and interactive aspects of language processing in the brain. To test novel concepts in language research, the consortium employs the latest technologies in imaging quality and signal processing in conjunction with sophisticated analytical and modelling techniques. Understanding of the organizational concepts of neural processing of language and their interaction may ultimately pave the way for enhanced language acquisition and better compensatory training of people with speech and language deficits. WP6 has a primarily supportive role in supporting the other WPs by providing the analytical and clinical-translational expertise necessary to achieve the overarching objectives of the language in interaction programme at the highest level of methodological sophistication.

This Work Package was largely integrated into the current Big Questions 1 and 4.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Christian Beckmann
Prof. dr. Han Brunner
Prof. dr. Jan Buitelaar
Prof. dr. David Norris

Prof. dr. Ole Jenssen
Prof. dr. Roy Kessels
Prof. dr. Barbara Franke
Prof. dr. Nick Ramsey

WP6 Postdoc

Dr. Andre Marquand

Work Package 7: Utilization

The focus of this work package was on charting and developing ways for LiI research outcomes to be applicable and relevant in the outside world. It shapes the LiI infrastructure for knowledge utilization by ensuring that the means and personnel are available to support researchers in their utilization efforts. These range from ideas, theories, inventions and innovations towards actual use and benefit to society.

Key innovation is the active encouragement of LiI researchers to transform ideas into commercial and/or societal products. WP7 will coach and assist them in identifying and designing applications (of any kind), in finding partners, and finding their way in the world of patent and grant application. WP7 participates in research projects in the domain of language research that can be applied in clinical or technological settings.

This Work Package is now the Societal Impact package.

Original coordinators / team

Prof. dr. Bas Bloem
Prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch
Prof dr. Peter Desain


WP7 Postdocs

Dr. Pashiera Barkhuysen
Dr. Esther Steenbeek-Planting

Work Package PhD candidates

Shruti Ullas – WP 1 – Defense date: June 17 2020
Marvin Uhlmann – WPs 1 and 2 – Defense date: September 29 2020
Fabian Heim – WPs 1 and 4
Izabela Przezdzik – WPs 1 and 5 – Defense date: June 24 2021
Jana Thorin – WPs 1 and 7 – Defense date: February 20 2020
Stephanie Theves – WP 2 – Defense date: June 23 2020
James Trujillo – WPs 2 and 6 – Defense date: February 13 2020
Iris van de Pol – WP 3
Daniel Sharoh – WPs 3 and 6 – Defense date: January 4 2020
Luis Miguel Berscia – WP 4 – Defense date: April 4 2019
Merel Burgering – WP 4 – Defense date: June 29 2021
Arnold Kochari – WPs 4 and 6 – Defense date: September 17 2020
Lara Todorova – WP 5 – Defense date: February 9 2021
Joe Rodd – WPs 5 and 1 – Defense date: September 24 2020
Lot Snijders-Blok – WPs 6 and 4 – Defense date: October 15 2021
Nikki Janssen – WPs 6 and 5 – Defense date: December 8 2020
Linda Drijvers – WPs 6 and 7 – Defense date: May 13 2019
Alessandro Lopopolo – WPs 7 and 3 –Defense date: January 12 2021