ackground ims peakers rganizers enue rogramme

egistration ubmission ontact AQs ponsors

 

 

 

 

ttention and language production play a key role in everyday life and appear to be intimately related. With the advent of functional brain imaging using hemodynamic techniques and new advances in electrophysiology, eyetracking, molecular genetics, and computational modeling, research on attention and language has progressed dramatically in recent years. However, a major impediment to understanding the interplay of attention and language is that the two topics are studied in separate research traditions with very little communication across boundaries. The aim of The Attentive Speaker (TAS) workshop was to facilitate new scientific exchanges leading to innovative insights at the intersection of attention and language production. This was enabled by bringing together researchers with attention or language-production backgrounds using different research methodologies from both developmental and adult perspectives. These methodologies include neuroimaging, eyetracking, genetics, lesion-deficit analysis, and computational modeling. The venue of the workshop was the Aula at Radboud University Nijmegen. The dates were Thursday 8th and Friday 9th of May, 2008.

 

ackground

Attention and language play a key role in everyday life. Attention allows our perceptions, thoughts, and actions to be accurate and speeded in the face of distraction, whereas language is our most important vehicle for symbolic communication. Although speaking is one of our most highly exercised skillswith one hour talking per day, we produce some four million words per year, which seems to happen automatically and effortlessly—it may require some attention, as is perhaps most evident from the effort associated with talking while driving a car in heavy traffic or talking in a foreign language. The amount of attention we have to pay to word production thus sheds light on the limits of automaticity in general.

 

 

 

 

Wilhelm Wundt was the first psychologist to study attention and language production more than a century ago. Following his lead, many psychologists (e.g., Cattell, Pillsbury) took interest in attention as well as language and used tasks critically combining attention and word production (e.g., Stroop).

 

Research on attention and language has progressed dramatically in recent years. With the advent of functional brain imaging using hemodynamic techniques and recent advances in electrophysiology, eyetracking, genetics, and computational modeling, there are now many new ways of studying how we are able to select and enhance some aspects for processing while ignoring others and how we are able to speak. These technical advances were especially important for language: Whereas researchers have the whole animal kingdom available for studying attention, humans are the only species that speaks. With the new techniques, we are now finally able to assess what happens in our brains when we produce words. This research has made clear that both attention and spoken word production are enabled by functionally dedicated systems, associated with separate networks of brain areas. Also, evidence suggests that speakers usually attend and plan one word at a time, with little look-ahead. Attempting to divide attention and plan words in parallel seems to lead to cross-talk and errors. Moreover, research has revealed that separate networks of anatomical areas underlie such central aspects of attention as alerting, spatial and temporal orienting, and executive control. The executive attention network seems highly heritable, and we are beginning to unravel its genetic basis.

 

Understanding the relationship between attention and language is not only of academic interest. Attention and language deficits may have major consequences for someone's daily functioning. Forms of psychopathology such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, autism-spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder appear to involve attentional networks. Impairments of the interaction between attention and language may give rise to, for example, hearing voices in schizophrenia. Impairments of language may lead to aphasia or dyslexia. The success of language therapy in aphasia or remedial teaching may depend on an individual's ability to exert control over language processes. The executive control network is also of great importance in acquiring school subjects such as literacy.

Despite the great practical relevance of studying attention and language, and the enormous range of techniques that has become available, a major impediment to understanding the interplay of attention and language is that the two topics are studied in separate research traditions (Attention and Performance, on the one hand, and Psycholinguistics and Linguistics, on the other), with very little communication across boundaries. However, to understand the interplay between attention and language, researchers have to understand both language and attention. Moreover, understanding the complexity of attention and language and their interplay requires advanced computational modeling. However, researchers often do not use computer simulations in their investigations, so that they may miss potential benefits of modeling exercises.

 

ims

The aim of The Attentive Speaker (TAS) workshop was to facilitate new scientific exchanges leading to innovative insights at the intersection of attention and language. Young promising researchers (PhD students, postdocs, assistant professors) as well more established researchers (associate- and full professors) from the Attention and Language research communities met with the objective to bridge between disciplines. All the speakers already are, or certainly will become, international leaders in the fields of Attention and Language. PhD students and young postdocs were invited to submit posters. We aimed at an overall junior/senior participant ratio of about 50/50%. The participants brought together evidence from five different methodsneuroimaging, eyetracking, genetics, lesion-deficit analysis, and computational modeling. This provided a forum for interdisciplinary discussions between scientists who have examined attention and language using these different methods, from both developmental and adult perspectives.

 

peakers

  • Roshan Cools (FC Donders, Nijmegen), Psychiatry. Research: Neural and chemical basis of executive control, cognitive psychological, psychopharmacological, functional neuroimaging, and patient studies.
  • Dietsje Jolles & Eveline Crone (U. Leiden), Developmental Psychology. Research: Development of executive control in school-aged children and adolescents, functional neuroimaging.
  • Jin Fan (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA), Psychiatry. Research: Anatomy, circuitry, pathology, and development of attentional networks, computational modeling.
  • John Fossella (Cornell U., New York, USA), Psychiatry. Research: Heritability, molecular genetics, imaging of attentional networks.
  • Robert Hartsuiker (U. Gent, Belgium), Psycholinguistics. Research: Language production, eyetracking, computational modeling.
  • Peter Indefrey (FC Donders, Nijmegen), Multilingualism. Research: Language production, bilingualism, neuroimaging.
  • Renata Meuter (Queensland U. of Technology, Brisbane, Australia), Psychology. Research: Attention, bilingualism.
  • Antje Meyer (U. Birmingham, UK), Psycholinguistics. Research: Language production, eyetracking.
  • Tinca Polderman (VU Amsterdam), Biological Psychology. Research: Genetics of attention, attention problems, cognition, and executive functioning in children.
  • Ardi Roelofs (NICI, FC Donders). Research: Functional and neural basis of attention and word production, neuroimaging, eyetracking, computational modeling.
  • Sharon Thompson-Schill (U. Pennsylvania, USA), Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Research: Neural bases of memory and language in humans, role of the frontal lobes in semantic retrieval.

 

rganizers

  • Ardi Roelofs (NICI, FC Donders).
  • Esther Aarts (NICI, FC Donders). Research: Neural basis of executive attention, neuroimaging, genetics.
  • Martijn Lamers (NICI). Research: Visual attention, executive control, eyetracking.
  • Kim Verhoef (NICI). Research: Functional and neural basis of attention, bilingualism, electrophysiology.

 

enue

The venue of the Workshop was the Senate Room of the Aula at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The dates were Thursday 8th and Friday 9th of May, 2008, from 9:00h-17:00h. The workshop dinner was in Huize Heyendael on Thursday evening 19:00-23:00. Click the maps below to enlarge.

Aula Radboud University, Comeniuslaan 2 6525 HP Nijmegen Tel: +31 (0)24 3612156

 

 

 

How to get to Nijmegen and the TAS venue

Accommodation in Nijmegen and surroundings

 

 

rogramme

The programme is given below. A booklet in PDF with the abstracts can be downloaded here. A badge and hardcopy of the booklet with the programme and abstracts could be obtained from the TAS registration desk. The workshop venue opened 8 a.m. (coffee was ready). A free lunch was available at the venue for registered participants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

egistration

The deadline for registration was Friday 29th February 2008.

 

ubmission

The deadline for poster submission was Friday 29th February 2008.

 

ontact

The workshop organizers could be contacted by sending an email to

attentivespeaker (at) hotmail (dot) com

 

AQs

 

Question: Is there a workshop flyer? Answer: Yes, click on the image below to download a TAS workshop flyer in PDF format.

 

ponsors

The workshop was supported by

 

 

Webpage updated: May 27, 2008