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The Speak Easy: Conversations on Language and Communication

Step free access available
Past event - 2024
15 May Doors 7pm
Event 7:30pm - 9:30 pm
The Winning Post, 127-129 Bishopthorpe Road,
York YO23 1NZ
From babies to adults, language and communication are vital and impact our lives daily. Join us for talks about twins, babies, brains and counting sheep! 

How our brain responds to visual and auditory linguistic stimuli

Chen Chen (PhD Student)
In daily life, we make sense of the linguistic information from the external world, comprehending what we read or listen to. Even when we generate internal thoughts and memories, our brain may still process the linguistic information from the external environment automatically. Using fMRI, the current study revealed how brain activation changes when participants attend to external linguistic information (auditory or visual), or generate internal thoughts with or without the distraction from the outside.

Counting sheep, fruits and bloods: What is the interaction between perceptual and linguistic systems?

Victoria Noble (PhD Student)
When we interact with the world, we implicitly categorise things. For example, we perceive sheep and apples as solid objects, and perceive oil and blood as liquid substances. Does this perceptual categorisation cross over to language? At first, it seems like the answer is yes. We can count solid objects: one chair, two apples, three sheep. We cannot count liquids: one water? two oils? three bloods? However, there are cases where we cannot count solid objects: one cattle? two furnitures? three fruits? So, with respect to counting, what is the interaction between perceptual and linguistic systems?

Growing up as a twin: Differences in language, cognition, and social-emotional development.

Emily Wood (Project Coordinator)
From birth, twins must grow up alongside one another, sharing their environment, resources, and caregivers’ attention between them. How might this competition for resources affect twins’ development? In this talk, Emily Wood will discuss her research following the psychological development of twins and their younger siblings at ages 2, 3, 4, and 7. She will investigate differences in the language, cognitive, and social-emotional development of twin and singleton children from the same families, asking why psychological differences might arise, and how they change with time.

How does baby talk shape the brain?

Florence Oxley (Postdoc (PDRA))
Babies make learning language look easy. So easy, in fact, that some people think we’re born ready to talk. However, looking closely, we see that before babies can learn words, they must first build their own system of vowels and consonants bit-by-bit over many months, by ‘upcycling’ sounds they can already make and noticing patterns in the speech they hear around them. These new sounds typically emerge between 6-12 months of age, when we also see changes in the developing brain. By tracking changes in babies’ mouth movements as they grow and become experts at producing the sounds of speech, Oxley and colleagues reveal new insights into how the brain becomes ready for language during the first year of life.

Tiny talkers: how babies crack the code of language

Anna Brown (Postdoc (PDRA))
Ever wondered how babies decode language? How they unravel the words in phrases like "lookattheprettybaby" or learn why it's "I walked" but not "I runned"? And why do they sometimes confuse all four-legged creatures as "doggies"? These are the challenges that a child has been mastering since birth. Through research, we've uncovered how babies overcome these hurdles. I'll discuss their strategies and the vital role caregivers play in fostering their language skills.
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