Symposia

Sleep and consolidation during language learning

Organizer: Tali Bitan1,2; 1University of Haifa, 2University of Toronto
Presenters: Kimberly Fenn, Laura Batterink, Tali Bitan, Gareth Gaskell, Rebecca Gomez

While the important role of sleep in the consolidation of non-linguistic declarative, motor and perceptual skills was shown in numerous studies, there is an ongoing debate on which types of tasks are influenced, and the specific sleep components involved. During the last decade there is a growing number of studies examining similar questions in the linguistic domain, with different methodologies and populations. We will present studies showing the effect of night sleep and daytime naps on learning vocabulary, grammar and speech perception, in adults, children and toddlers, using behavioral, polysomnographic and neuroimaging methods. These studies highlight variables such as age and other individual differences that modulate the effect of sleep beyond the tasks at hand. Altogether they show the effects of sleep on various aspects of consolidation, including stabilization and protection against subsequent degradation; enhanced performance on trained stimuli; and extraction of hidden regularities evident in generalization to novel stimuli.
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Capturing developmental brain dynamics: methods for longitudinal language research

Organizers: Maaike Vandermosten1, Milene Bonte2; 1KU Leuven, 2Maastricht University
Presenters: Maaike Vandermosten, Rogier Kievit, Lucy Whitmore, Martin Reuter, Marcus Kaiser

The brain undergoes continuous structural and functional changes when we learn to understand and use language. These changes may yield crucial insights on typical development as well as on atypical development in language disorders, even before diagnostic symptoms can be observed. Capturing these developmental and learning-induced dynamics is extremely challenging however, as changes occur interactively across multiple levels, including (social) environmental, behavioral, structural and functional brain changes. Studying this interplay of factors calls for both an interdisciplinary and longitudinal approach. This symposium brings together researchers with different theoretical and methodological backgrounds to discusses state-of-the-art MRI analysis and statistical approaches and their application to longitudinal research within the language domain.
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Linguistic levels of representation: Challenges at the interfaces

Organizer: Arianna Zuanazzi1; 1Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, US
Presenters: Yulia Oganian, Laura Gwilliams, Arianna Zuanazzi, Andrea E. Martin, Simona Mancini, Petra Hendriks

Speech comprehension relies on segmenting a continuous acoustic signal into discrete linguistic units that are combined to form representations across different levels of complexity (e.g., phonemes, morphemes, words or phrases, meanings). Previous research has mainly investigated how such units are computed and represented within each level. However, it remains unclear (1) what information contained in simpler units (e.g., phonemes) is employed to derive more complex objects (e.g., morphemes); (2) how features from different representational levels (e.g., phonetic and morphological features) interact with one another; (3) whether similar operations are performed at all levels of complexity (e.g., morphological, syntactic and semantic composition). This symposium will bring together research programs that specifically investigate how information across levels is exchanged and integrated. Thus, students and faculty interested in different language domains and in different scientific approaches (such as linguistic theory, computational models, behavior and neurophysiology) will find this symposium relevant and timely.
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