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Language Evolution, its Use and Social Interaction

Due to the high number of registrations, the first two classes will be held online via Webex: Please find the link below

Meeting link: https://fu-berlin.webex.com/fu-berlin-en/j.php?MTID=mb0eabb3e5f5eaf170eaa20f6092bcd84

Meeting number: 2730 027 4644

Password: languagevo21

21.10. Introduction, question, background, program, learning objectives and presentation assignment

I. LANGUAGE EVOLUTION; Culture and biological evolutionary changes

28.10. Lecture: Animal vs. Human communication - ONLINE VIA WEBEX

*Tomasello (2004), The origins of human communication, chapter 2.

Tomasello M, Herrmann E. 2010. Ape and human cognition: What’s the difference? Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 19:3–8.

04.11. From Ontogenesis to phylogenies: Origin and evolution of language and pre-linguistic gestural communication

1a. Corballis, M. C. (2009). Language as gesture. Human Movement Science, 28(5), 556-565.

1b. Byrne, R.W., Cochet, H. (2017). Where have all the (ape) gestures gone?  Psychon Bull Rev 24, 68–71

1c. Kelly, B. F. (2006) The development of constructions through early gesture use.

*Tomasello, Michael. (2009) Constructing a language. Harvard university press, Chapter 2.2.-2.2.2 and 2.3.-2.3.1

11.11. Brain evolution and language

2a. Schoenemann, P. T. (2009). Evolution of brain and language. Language Learning59, 162-186.

2b. *Rilling, J. K. (2014). Comparative primate neuroimaging: insights into human brain evolution. Trends in cognitive sciences18(1), 46-55.

2c. Catani M, Bambini V. 2014. A model for Social Communication And Language Evolution and Development (SCALED). Curr Opin Neurobiol. 28:165–171.

 Review paper: *Aboitiz, F. (2018). Voice, gesture and working memory in the emergence of speech. Interaction Studies19(1-2), 70-85.

18.11. Brain constrained Neural Language Modeling

 Lecture: Introduction to Brain Constraints Neural Networks

*Pulvermüller, F., Tomasello, R., Henningsen-Schomers, M.R., Wenneker, T. (2021) Biological constraints on neural network models of cognitive function. Nat Rev Neurosci 22, 488–502 

3a. Schomers, M. R., Garagnani, M., & Pulvermüller, F. (2017). Neurocomputational consequences of evolutionary connectivity changes in perisylvian language cortex. Journal of Neuroscience37(11), 3045-3055.

 Talk: Marika Constant, Neurobiological explanation of fast mapping: Brain constrained Neural Network

II. LANGUAGE USE; Linguistic pragmatics theories and the brain

25.11. Lecture: What is linguistic pragmatic? Current pragmatic research at the BLL

Lecture: The DFG project "Brain Signatures of Communication" in the DFG priority "XPrag.de”

4a. Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2017) Pragmatics and the aims of language evolution. Psychon Bull Rev 24, 186–189.


02.12. Language game & Speech act theory

5a. Wittgenstein, L. (1967). Philosophische Untersuchungen. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp

5b. *Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford: Claredon Press (1972, Zur Theorie der Sprechakte, Stuttgart, Reclam, S. 1-75), chapter 1 & 2.

5c. Searle, J. R. (1979). Expression and meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1979, Ausdruck und Bedeutung. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, SS. 17- 50), chapter 1.

*Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1971, Sprechakte, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, pp 38-113).

09.12. Experimental pragmatics at the Brain Language Laboratory at Freie Universität Berlin - (possibly split into smaller groups).

This session is designed to give you an opportunity to see an experimental pragmatics experiment up close. Supervised by lab members, you will be introduced to a study of linguistic action processing in which subjects perform various speech acts while their brain waves are measured. A focus will be on the practice of the EEG method, which will then also be discussed from a theoretical perspective in the following session.

 Alternatively - live streaming via Webex.

16.12. Neural correlates of speech act understanding: The case of Naming and Request

x6a. Egorova, N., Shtyrov, Y., & Pulvermüller, F. (2013). Early and parallel processing of pragmatic and semantic information in speech acts: neurophysiological evidence. Front Hum Neurosci, 7(86), 1-13.

x6b. Egorova, N., Shtyrov, Y., & Pulvermüller, F. (2016). Brain basis of communicative actions in language. Neuroimage, 125, 857-867. x joint presentation by two speakers

6c. Tomasello, R., Kim, C., Dreyer, F.R., Grisoni, L., Pulvermüller, F., (2019). Neurophysiological evidence for rapid processing of verbal and gestural information in understanding communicative actions. Sci. Rep. 9.


06.01. Speech act prediction and Indirect speech acts

7a. TBoux, I., TTomasello, R., Grisoni, L., & Pulvermüller, F (2021). Brain signatures predict communicative function of speech production in interaction. Cortex 135, 127–145. TBoth first authors.

Conversational Brains (CoBra) Phd Project

Online Talk: Salome Antoine, Predictions in the understanding of communicative acts

7b. Van Ackeren, M. J., Smaragdi, A., & Rueschemeyer, S. A. (2016). Neuronal interactions between mentalising and action systems during indirect request processing. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 11(9), 1402-1410.

11.01. TUESDAY - Dahlem Lecture in Linguistics, FUB

Talk by Dr Daniela Sammler, head of the group Neurocognition of Music and Language, Max Plank Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

“Making sense of social sounds: The neuropragmatics of prosody”

Hellbernd, N. & Sammler, D., (2016) Prosody conveys speaker’s intentions: Acoustic cues for speech act perception. J. Mem. Lang. 88, 70–86.

Hellbernd, N., Sammler, D., (2018). Neural bases of social communicative intentions in speech. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 13, 604–615.


13.01. This session will be activated if needed

III. SOCIAL INTERACTIONS: Dialogue, Common Ground, Joint attentions

20.01 Alignment Theory, Transcript & Dialogue analyses

Menenti, L., Pickering, M. J., & Garrod, S. C. (2012). Toward a neural basis of interactive alignment in conversation. Front Hum Neurosci, 6, 185.

*Pickering, M. J., & Garrod, S. (2004). Toward a mechanistic psychology of dialogue. Behav Brain Sci, 27(2), 169-190; Discussion 190-226.

Recording a communication and preparing the transcription

Please bring your laptop and headphones! To prepare, please download and install http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Group work: Conduct a conversation, record it, and select an approx. one-minute sequence for transcription. For more details, download the PDF file at the BLL page containing the instructions.

Talk: Johanna Knechtges - Transcription

*Selting, M., Auer, P., Barden, B., Bergmann, J., Couper-Kuhlen, E., Günthner, S., ... & Uhmann, S. (1998). Gesprachsanalytisches transkriptionssystem (GAT). Linguistische Berichte, 91-122. (EN version available).

27.01 Common ground & the social N400

9a. *Clark, E.V. (2015). Common Ground. In The Handbook of Language Emergence (eds B. MacWhinney and W. O'Grady)

Clark, Herbert H. Using language. Cambridge university press, 1996. Part II, „Joint activities“

9b: Wolf W, Tomasello M. (2020) Human children, but not great apes, become socially closer by sharing an experience in common ground. J Exp Child Psychol. Nov;199:104930.

9c. Rueschemeyer, S. A., Gardner, T., & Stoner, C. (2015). The Social N400 effect: how the presence of other listeners affects language comprehension. Psychon Bull Rev, 22(1), 128-134.


03.02 Turn-Taking

10a. Menenti, L., Pickering, M. J., & Garrod, S. C. (2012). Toward a neural basis of interactive alignment in conversation. Front Hum Neurosci, 6, 185.

Stivers, T., Enfield, N. J., Brown, P., Englert, C., Hayashi, M., Heinemann, T., et al. & Levinson, S. C. (2009). Universals and cultural variation in turn-taking in conversation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(26), 10587-10592

10b: Pika, S., Wilkinson, R., Kendrick, K. H., & Vernes, S. C. (2018). Taking turns: bridging the gap between human and animal communication. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285(1880), 20180598.

Online Talk: Dr Mathias Barthel - TBA

10.02 Language games - Intensive Language Action Therapy

*Blumstein, S. E. (2016). Psycholinguistic approaches to the study of syndromes and symptoms of aphasia. In G. Hickok & S. L. Small (Eds.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 923-933). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

11a. Pulvermüller, F., Mohr, B., & Taub, E. (2016). Constraint-induced aphasia therapy: A neuroscience centered translational method. In G. Hickok & S. L. Small (Eds.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 1025- 1034). Amsterdam: Elsevier

Talk: Magdalena Jonen

Theoretical and practical session on Intensive Language Action Therapy (ILAT)

17.02 Seminar closure

Seminar summary, Seminar critique

Discussion of term paper topics