To realize our ambitious aims, our research programme is organized into seven focused, but coherent work packages (WPs) with clear and open procedures to promote collaborative, innovative, interdisciplinary research at the cutting edge of the field. Five scientific WPs define the content of the research programme. The scientific WPs are based on a decomposition of the human language faculty into its key components, the remaining two WPs provide the interface between research, methods and utilization.
WP1 Speech perception and production in interaction
The primary mode of language for which our brain is evolutionary adapted is producing and listening to spoken language. These adaptations have shaped our auditory cortex and motor cortex in a direction that allows us to process and produce speech sounds. WP 1 focuses on these aspects of speech perception and production in relation to the structure of auditory and motor cortices.
WP2 Semantic and conceptual basis of language
The language system builds on existing memory structures, laid down during development, which might co-determine the organization of linguistic knowledge. WP 2 focuses on interactions between the linguistic and mnemonic domains that are necessary to build and use semantic content and conceptual knowledge with a special emphasis on development.
WP3 Compositionality and contextuality
The flexibility and expressiveness of human language are based on a neurocognitive infrastructure that allows endless new combinations of words and contexts to co-determine the interpretation of what otherwise would be an inherently ambiguous signal. WP 3 focuses on compositionality and contextuality of language which are core aspects of human language.
WP4 Language in action
The pragmatics of language is determined by goals and shared knowledge of the participants in an act of communication. Such communicative acts are inherently multimodal in nature, with eye gaze, gestures and other actions that co-determine the intended message. WP 4 focuses on this multimodal setting of language during interaction.
WP5 Language evolution and diversity
Languages are never static and have had a cultural evolution of their own. In addition to their phylogenetic origins they are always under the influence of biological, cultural/historical, and evolutionary processes. These processes of change cause languages to split, diversify and hybridize in contact situations mimicking the process of biological evolution. WP 5 focuses on the factors that determine between-language as well as individual variability.
The Toolkit WP provides the methodological and clinical-translational expertise needed to allow this research programme to be executed at the highest level of methodological sophistication.
WP7 shapes the infrastructure for knowledge utilization by making sure 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.