Research on language is carried out at the CLIC (CIMeC Language, Interaction and Computation laboratory), at the CeRiN (Center for Neurocognitive Rehabilitation) and at LNiF.

Areas of research include the use of semantic and encyclopedic knowledge in communication, the study of classic questions in theoretical linguistics and in particular semantics with computational and experimental methods, and multimodal communication. We study the extraction and integration of semantic information from different multimodal sources, in particular language and vision. We investigate how knowledge is represented in the brain, trying to build a bridge between the neuronal coding schemes in different brain regions and conceptual processing, language understanding and memory. To do so we use different methodologies in system neuroscience such as fMRI, Magnetoencephalography and EEG, togher with cutting-edge analysis techniques based on multivariate statistics and machine learning:

  • we examine the design of interactive methodologies to disseminate knowledge of language and linguistics in education and popular science, and we carry out computational simulations of how various aspects of language, and more specifically semantic knowledge, can be acquired from naturally occurring data, such as large text and image corpora;
  • we develop machine-learning algorithms for the diagnosis of language disorders, with specific reference to lexical-semantic impairments, and we use multi-level data for patients with MCI and dementias in order to develop a novel classification of language disorders and of dementing brain diseases;
  • we study language/brain relationships as they emerge from impaired performance of aphasic speakers, of people undergoing awake surgery procedures for brain tumours, or of people with hearing impairment (profound deafness, hearing aid or cochlear implant users) in single-word and sentence comprehension/production tasks;
  • we also study the neural mechanisms underlying the effects of language practice and the recovery of language disorders following traditional speech/language therapy and neuromodulation;
  • we investigate the neural substrates of integration processes in discourse comprehension.

PIs working in this area