LOT Winter School 2018

Neurobiology of language

Giosuè Baggio


Norwegian University of Science and Technology




Course description

This course will approach current issues in the neurobiology of language and communication from the vantage point of semantics. The lectures will focus on the identification and characterization of systems of semantics in the brain, and on their relative independence from other cognitive systems. Participants will learn to appreciate the power and the limitations of experimental methods for investigating the organization of semantic systems, and for generating results supporting the construction of multi-level theories of meaning in the brain. The course will include a hands-on session during which participants will be exposed to the specific aims, constraints and challenges of experimental research in the cognitive neuroscience of language.

Lecture plan and reading list

Lecture 1 — Introduction

Marr, D. Vision. A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information. Freeman, 1982 (Chapter 1).

Putnam, H. Meaning and reference. The Journal of Philosophy 70, 1973: 699-711.

Lecture 2 — The binding problem in semantics

Hagoort, P., Hald, L., Bastiaansen, M. and Petersson, K.M. Integration of word meaning and world knowledge in language comprehension. Science 304, 2004: 438-441.

Kim, A., and Osterhout, L. The independence of combinatory semantic processing: Evidence from event-related potentials. Journal of Memory and Language 52, 2005: 205-225.

Kutas, M. and Hillyard, S.A. Reading senseless sentences: Brain potentials reflect semantic incongruity. Science 207, 1980: 203-205.

Saur, D., B. W. Kreher, S. Schnell, D. Kümmerer, P Kellmeyer, M. S. Vry, R. Umarova, M. Musso, V. Glauche, S. Abel, W. Huber, M. Rijntjes, J. Hennig, and C. Weiller. Ventral and dorsal pathways for language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105, 2008: 18035-18040.

Lecture 3 — Brain systems for discourse and logic

Baggio, G., M. van Lambalgen, and P. Hagoort. Computing and recomputing discourse models: An ERP study. Journal of Memory and Language 59, 2008: 36-53.

Baggio, G., P. Cherubini, D. Pischedda, A. Blumenthal, J. D. Haynes, and C. Reverberi. Multiple neural representations of elementary logical connectives. NeuroImage 135, 2016: 300-310.

Nieuwland, M. S., M. Otten, and J. J. A. van Berkum. Who are you talking about? Tracking discourse-level referential processing with event-related brain potentials. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 19, 2007: 228-236.

Nieuwland, M. S., K. M. Petersson, and J. J. A. van Berkum. On sense and reference: Examining the functional neuroanatomy of referential processing. NeuroImage 37, 2007: 993-1004.

Lecture 4 — Coordination, communication, learning

Willems, R., M. de Boer, J. P. de Ruiter, M. L. Noordzij, P. Hagoort, and I. Toni. A dissociation between linguistic and communicative abilities in the human brain. Psychological Science 21, 2010: 8-14.

Mestres-Missé, A., A. Rodrìguez-Fornells, and T. F. Münte. Watching the brain during meaning acquisition. Cerebral Cortex 17, 2007: 1858-1866.

Mestres-Missé, A., E. Cámara, A. Rodrìguez-Fornells, M. Rotte, and T. F. Münte. Functional neuroanatomy of meaning acquisition from context. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 20, 2008: 2153-2166.

Stolk, A., M. L. Noordzij, L. Verhagen, I. Volman, J. M. Schoffelen, R. Oostenveld, P. Hagoort, and I. Toni. Cerebral coherence between communicators marks the emergence of meaning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, 2014: 18183-18188.

Lecture 5 — Hands-on session: Experimental design

Huettel, S. A., A. W. Song, and G. McCarthy. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Sinauer Associates, 2009 (Chapter 8).

Luck, S. An Introduction to the Event-Related Potential Technique. MIT Press, 2005 (Chapter 2).