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LINGUIST List 19.3240

Mon Oct 27 2008

Support: Cog Sci, Psycholinguistics: PhD Student, University of Manchester

Editor for this issue: Luiza Newlin Lukowicz <luizalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Judith Holler, Cognitive Science, Psycholinguistics: PhD Student, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Message 1: Cognitive Science, Psycholinguistics: PhD Student, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Date: 26-Oct-2008
From: Judith Holler <judith.hollermanchester.ac.uk>
Subject: Cognitive Science, Psycholinguistics: PhD Student, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
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Institution/Organization: University of Manchester, UK
Department: School of Psychological Sciences
Web Address: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/

Level: PhD

Duties: Research

Job Rank: PhD

Specialty Areas: Cognitive Science; Psycholinguistics
Co-speech gesture


Description of research topic:

How we mentally represent the world around us is fundamental to the study of
cognition and communication, but language and gesture research has traditionally
taken very different approaches to its investigation. We know, for example,
quite a lot about the comprehension of written and spoken language and about the
comprehension and production of gesture that accompanies speech, but there has
been little effort to integrate insights from these two fields.

A recent confluence of theories in both fields is suggesting an embodied basis
to meaning in language and gesture, where mental representations are grounded in
sensorimotor and interoceptive experience. Because gestures provide direct
insight into speakers' mental representation at the time of speaking they offer
us exciting possibilities for exploring embodied cognition. Also, because
gestures themselves can be considered as simulated actions they may play a
crucial role in language comprehension involving the simulation of concepts and

This project focuses on the connection between gesture (both production and
comprehension) and the embodied basis of mental representations. In particular,
it will investigate how people use space (vertical and horizontal axes) to
represent visual information, perceptual information from other modalities, and
abstract information. The project will focus on two main questions: 1) Is the
meaning depicted in speakers' co-speech gestures grounded in space, and does the
nature of the gestural depictions provide insight into the underlying mental
representations? 2) Since the comprehension of spoken language is considered to
involve simulations of direct perceptual experiences, does the perception of
co-speech gestures enhance 'the sense of being there', and thus influence
language comprehension? The study will answer these questions by focusing on the
representation of three domains: object location, auditory information, and
emotional affect as grounded in space.

What skills/techniques will be developed?:

The successful candidate will develop expertise in techniques such as
psycholinguistic experimental design, testing and data analysis; audio-visual
stimulus preparation, use of appropriate presentation software (e.g., E-Prime,
SuperLab); gesture analysis and coding; speech and gesture transcription;
qualitative and quantitative analysis. Upon completion of the PhD the candidate
will be ideally placed for a research/academic career in the field of gesture
and/or psycholinguistics, as well as in many other psychology, linguistic or
cognitive science fields.

Who will the project suit?:

Applications are welcomed from candidates holding, or expecting to obtain, a
first or upper second-class honours degree in a relevant subject such as
psychology, linguistics, cognitive science or any cognate discipline. A Masters
in an associated area and experience in psycholinguistic or gesture research
would be desirable but are not essential.

Dr Louise Connell and Dr Judith Holler

For further details on the study or to confirm your suitability please contact
Dr Louise Connell (see contact information below) or Dr Judith Holler at

Applications Deadline: 28-Nov-2008

Mailing Address for Applications:
        Attn: Dr Judith Holler
        School of Psychological Sciences, Coupland Building 1
        University of Manchester
        Manchester Greater Manchester M13 9PL
        United Kingdom

Web Address for Applications: http://www.mhs.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/funding/facultystudentships/psychsci/lconnell

Contact Information:
        Dr Louise Connell
        Phone:+44 (0)161 306 0447

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