Finished projects

Language Acquisition and Language Processing Lab

Finished projects

Professor Mila Vuchanova giving a lecture

Previous projects

Previous projects

ORIGO -  Origins of Semantic Composition in Early Cognitive Development

Semantic composition is the ability to bind together two or more lexical concepts. For example, RED and BRICK may be unified into the compound RED BRICK. In adults, this ability is tied to the language-specific capacity to combine words into grammatical phrases. For example, in English ‘red’ and ‘brick’ may be combined into ‘red brick’, but not into ‘brick red’. In other languages, the order of the adjective and noun may be different. However, infants are able to understand and construct simple semantic compounds before they can encode them in speech, and before they can represent the correct word order in the grammar of the languages they are acquiring.

This project aims to track the origin and development of semantic composition in the first two years of life, prior to the acquisition of complex grammatical skills. The proposed research is based on the hypothesis, supported by previous work, that there are three key developmental precursors of semantic composition.

  1. Cross-modal priming (present at 9 months): the ability to relate semantically sequential information from different modalities (e.g., the spoken word ‘dog’ and the sight or the picture of a dog, and vice versa).
  2. Cross-modal integration (from 14 months): the ability to relate information delivered simultaneously in different modalities (e.g., the spoken word ‘dog’ and the sight or the picture of a dog).
  3. Lexical semantic priming (from 18 months): or the capacity to relate the meaning of words presented in close succession (e.g., ‘dog’ and ‘bark’).

We planned to conduct a longitudinal study of Norwegian infants and toddlers from 6 to 36 months of age, with a compact battery of tests including cross-modal priming and integration, lexical priming and sentence processing, using the N400 effect in event-related potentials (ERPs) as a measure of semantic processing in each case. We will use the N400 as a predictor of individual differences in linguistic and logical skills in the second and third years.


Duration: 2016-2020


Deictic Communication

Deictic communication is fundamental to understanding communication in both typical and atypical populations, and forms the key connection between language and objects/locations in the world. It is therefore critical to understanding human-human interaction, and human-system interaction in a range of technology applications — from mobile phones to intelligent robotics — and to the enhancement of clinical and educational interventions with typical and atypical populations.

The main goal of the DCOMM ETN is to train the next generation of scientists in the full range of multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial methods necessary to make significant progress in understanding deictic communication, with direct synergies between basic research and application.

Training and research are structured around two interdisciplinary research themes — Understanding Deictic Communication and Deictic Communication in Application — both involving extensive and systematic co-supervision and collaboration across sites with key interplay between academic and non-academic beneficiaries and partners. In turn, we expect that a range of applications will be enhanced with increased usability, with associated societal and economic benefit.

The training of the cohort of ESR fellows is based on innovative PhD training approaches, providing not only training in interdisciplinary methods, but also employing peer-assisted methods and the latest in educational innovation.

Duration: 2016-2020

LanPercept - Language and Perception

LanPercept logo

The LanPercept project provides a unique approach to understanding the interaction between two central cognitive systems: language and perception. Traditionally these systems have been studied independently, with training provided from a single discipline perspective. This training network has for the first time offered an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of the bidirectional relationships between language and perception for the first time, bridging the translational gap between basic and applied research, both in clinical settings and in industry. The focus is on how people at different ages and with different deficits map language to what they perceive. The network of senior specialists and young professionals have collaborated to develop new tools and software to help educational and health practitioners in their work.

Research has been organized in three interconnected clusters:

  1. Language-perception interactions in healthy participants - basic research investigates theories of language and perception from complementary perspectives in order to break new ground in understanding language-perception interactions.

  2. Language-perception interactions in atypical populations - applied research transports state-of-the-art methods of language-perception to atypical populations in order to identify underlying mechanisms for different kinds of atypical behaviours.

  3. Advanced technologies for language and perception research bridges basic research and its applications in the development of new behavioural and neurophysiological techniques to identify the interaction between language and perception among typical (adults and children) and atypical populations.

In collaboration with industrial partners, this ITN has fostered a new generation of integrative language and perception scientists with the technological, theoretical, and entrepreneurial skills necessary to make breakthroughs in the understanding of language-perception interactions and associated applications.

Situated Reference in Language

Funded by The Research Council of Norway.

To be updated.