Current PhD Projects in Neurolinguistics & Language Development
Multilingualism in Crisis Communication: Use of Minority Languages in COVID-19 Awareness Campaigns in the Netherlands
This project investigates the availability, accessibility, and acceptability of multilingual and low-literate COVID-19 information in the Netherlands. To have a comprehensive image of the role of multilingualism in the Netherlands during the pandemic, four groups of participants will be recruited nationwide: non-Dutch speakers, minority language speakers, low-literate L1 Dutch speakers, and a control group consists of speakers with Dutch as their L1 and who are not low literate. Questionnaires and semi-structured focus group interviews will be performed to compare the accuracy and immediacy of public information to people of different linguistic backgrounds. Additionally, an eye-tracking experiment will investigate whether the information available also attracts visual attention and influences participants' behavior.
L1 Dutch and L2 English writing development in DMI and EMI programmes
My PhD project concerns the writing development of Dutch students in programmes with Dutch as medium of instruction (DMI) and English as medium of instruction (EMI). A lot of universities offer courses and programmes in English, yet we know little about how studying in a second language affects students' ability to express their thoughts in writing. I will investigate how the Dutch and English writing skills of DMI and EMI students develop in the first and second year and how DMI students handle writing in their first language (Dutch) about material presented in their second language (English). In my analyses, I will include process-based features (such as pausing and revision behaviour) as well as product-based features (such as sentence complexity).
Music perception skills and the acquisition of second language prosody
Many theoretical and empirical studies support a link between music and language in cognition, with studies showing advantages of L2 learners’ musical skills in the perception of prosodic parameters, such as pitch and duration. In this project I investigate the integration of these perceptual parameters into semantics and pragmatics, to test if music perception skill benefits L2 comprehension. Using eye-tracking and offline measures, I will examine the comprehension of speech involving prosodic cues to focus, sarcasm, and affective states. The project also examines whether better music perception is connected to a more native-like production of L2 prosody, using elicitation techniques and perceptual and acoustic measures.
In my PhD project we will examine the effects of foreign language learning on late-life depression. Seniors with this diagnosis often experience reduced cognitive flexibility; a skill that is trained and strengthened when learning and speaking a foreign language. In order to measure the difference between baseline and post-test (or follow-up) conditions, multiple experimental paradigms are employed. These include eye-tracking methods, tests that measure a participant's wellbeing, and behavioral paradigms that test executive functioning. In addition to the language learning condition, two other groups of neurotypical seniors will receive musical training or a course training them in creative skills. This way the effects of language can be isolated.
This project is part of Prof. dr. Keijzer's NWO Vidi project Language Learning Never Gets Old: Foreign language learning as a tool to promote healthy aging (016.Vidi.185.190).
Language Learning Never Gets Old: Foreign language learning to promote cognitive reserve in healthy and Mild Cognitive Impairment seniors
In my PhD project we assess how the acquisition of new complex skills (i.e., foreign language learning, learning to play a musical instrument, and acquiring creative skills) affects cognitive functioning in seniors. Specifically, we investigate the effects on the cognitive flexibility and well-being levels of seniors with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or subjective memory complaints vis-à-vis their neurotypical peers. This is achieved through adopting experimental approaches such as eye-tracking and neuropsychological testing. The project's goal is to identify whether the acquisition of new skills in older adulthood can promote cognitive reserve and consequently halt, prevent, or delay (further) cognitive decline. This project is part of Prof. dr. Merel Keijzer's NWO Vidi project Language Learning Never Gets Old: Foreign language learning as a tool to promote healthy aging (016.Vidi.185.190).
For more information see also the Bilingualism and Aging Lab.
Two Languages – One Mind
This PhD project investigates how language typology categorization affects bilinguals’ general cognition and subconscious concepts. By using psycholinguistic methods like self-paced reading or the event-related potential technique, this project will investigate how typological categorization influences the bilingual mind and how implicit mental processes are modulated by certain social factors.
Another goal of this project is to investigate how learning a second language that is typologically similar to the first language versus learning a typologically very distinct second language affects the cognitive abilities of theory of mind and metalinguistic awareness.
For more information see also the Bilingualism and Aging Lab.
The language of fiction and imagination
NWO Vidi project (dr. Emar Maier), for more information please visit the project website.
How do we learn the moon is female after all? The role of sequential and distributional properties in linguistic category learning
"What properties of languages facilitate the learning of categories in languages, such as for example noun gender or case? This project combines computational, psycholinguistic and corpus linguistic methods: learning simulations to understand the underlying general mechanism of category learning, artificial language learning experiments to identify structures that facilitate category learning, and corpus analyses to test whether natural languages exhibit those learner-friendly patterns. The goal of this project is to offer implications for the design of second language teaching materials as well as for a better understanding of language evolution."
Processing of Evidentiality in Turkish
"Evidentiality constitutes a grammatical category that marks information sources indicating how one has gained the knowledge regarding the event in his/her statement. That is, evidentiality signals whether a form of evidence is present for the statement uttered, through the speaker’s direct personal experience (i.e. witnessing) or through an indirect information source, such as inferring or report from a third speaker. In Turkish, evidentiality is expressed by two obligatory suffixes. These two distinct evidentiality markers are inflected at the verb (suffix) are: the direct evidential (-DI) used when the described event is speaker’s own experience, and the indirect evidential (–mIş) is used when the event is reported to the speaker or when the speaker acquire that knowledge through inference (Aikhenvald, 2004). Although several questions related to evidentiality have been answered, their precise neurolinguistic processing has been left unexplored. We aim to explore the neurolinguistic processing of evidentiality modulated in Turkish speakers’ brain activation. We use EEG (electroencephalogram) in order to investigate the moment-by-moment processing of these grammatical units and speaker’s precise reactions to the violation of these components."
Language learning never gets old - implicit and explicit language learning in seniors
"With the world’s population growing old, healthy ageing is becoming more and more important. Research suggests that language learning at an older age could be a potential tool against ageing disorders such as Alzheimer’s. However, it is not yet clear what the best approach is for seniors to learn a new language, and what the cognitive and social benefits of learning a new skill in older adulthood are. This project investigates just that by providing seniors with different language learning approaches during their English course. The first approach is explicit; a lot of grammar is provided and the second is implicit, where no grammar is taught to the seniors."
|Last modified:||19 October 2022 11.08 a.m.|