Research Group
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The study of the faculty of language constitutes the common interest of the Psycholinguistics Research Group. A number of different approaches may be identified within this cohesive topic of research, and below we describe the main lines of research addressed by our group:
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Research Interests

Translation ambiguity
We are interested in studying how ambiguous words across languages (i.e. those with multiple translations into another language) are processed and how they are represented in the bilingual memory. We use tasks such as translation recognition or lexical decision and different measures (response times and eye movements) to study the experimental effect of several lexical-semantic variables. The participants that take part in the experiments are either Catalan-Spanish or Spanish-English bilinguals.
Argumentation
In human communication both informal reasoning and linguistic processes are usually involved. We conceive the former as the main responsible for belief?s computation in the structure of communicative argument leading to differences in degrees of belief to a given claim. On the other hand, as long as we use verbal arguments, discourse processes play a fundamental role in the mode (how) and location (when) these computation takes place. My current research aims to examine and understand the structure and functioning of enthymemes taken in the classical sense of rhetorical syllogisms. Thus, the role of prior belief and premises? subjective probability is being examined in its relation to information validation in discourse processing. Thus, my main interest is on the cognitive study of the persuasiveness of a given conclusion in everyday arguments about hypothetical future events.
The role of recursion in cognitive science
Recursion developed in the formal sciences in reference to combinatory operations, mechanisms and the like. However, there seems to be a strong tendency in cognitive science to confuse hierarchically-structured representations with recursion. Even though hierarchical data structures call for recursive mechanisms, the latter are not automatic because of the former. Recursion always involves hierarchy, but not all hierarchy involves recursion —iteration may well be the right candidate for some structures/tasks. Since all computational tasks that can be solved recursively can also be solved iteratively (a fact stemming from the Church-Turing Thesis), extra care needs to be employed when arguing for one or the other. The focus of our research is to work out how close the correspondence between recursive representations and recursive operations is.
Philosophy of Cognitive Science
The philosophy of cognitive science takes human thinking as an object of enquiry and seeks to address issues about its nature. Examples include: What is psychological explanation? How does psychology relate to other sciences –such as neurobiology and evolutionary biology? It also attemps to clarify its core notions, such as mental representation, function, innateness, etc.
ERPs and visual word recognition
We are currently pursuing our previous research on visual word recognition with cognate and non-cognate words in bilinguals using behavioural paradigms (masked priming) and are extending these paradigms to include recordings of ERPs.
Processing of words with emotional content
We are examining how words with different emotional content are processed in L1 and L2, using behavioral measures and different types of paradigms, with especial interest on the distinction between emotional and semantic word content.
Syntactic processing and ambiguity resolution
An important part of our research involves the investigation of how people process the syntactic structure of sentences. The research on syntactic processing has investigated the different types of linguistic information that people use when resolving ambiguities.
The prosody-syntax relationship in sentence processing
The attachment of relative clauses with two antecedent nouns as potential hosts is a widely studied research topic in psycholinguistics. Previous research in Spanish shows a preference for high attachment in sentences of this kind. We are currently examining the contribution of prosody to the processing of ambiguous and unambiguous sentences of this type.
Lexical-semantic representation and processing
We are currently investigating the role of different semantic variables (e.g., lexical ambiguity, concreteness, number of translation, meaning similarity, etc.), in order to determine how semantic information is represented in bilingual memory. We used behavioural measures and we are now including the brain´s electrical activity (ERPs) and eye movement recordings.
Theory of Mind and language comprehension in schizophrenia
The aim of this study is to explore how deficits in mental states attribution could be reflected on language comprehension along its range of processing levels. We have found that, primarily, theory-of-mind correlates with language comprehension at the semantic-pragmatic level, as when the hearer needs the pragmatic ability to extract the figurative meaning of utterances such as metaphors, ironies, or proverbs. The consistent correlation found between both abilities appears to be genuine, in the sense that it doesn’t seem altered once we control for potential concurrent factors, such as general intelligence and/or some of the more representative executive functions.
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