02 March 2017, 18.30 – 20.30

Alumni Talk Series: Emiliano Zaccarella (Leipzig) and Bianca van Kemenade (Marburg)

Zaccarella: “Approaching language from below: Neural basis of minimally complex linguistic expressions” / Van Kemenade: “Predicting the multisensory consequences of one’s own action”

Emiliano Zaccarella was a member of doctoral cohort 2010–2013. He is now a postdoctoral researcher with M&B faculty member Angela D. Friederici at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig. Emiliano will speak about “Approaching language from below: Neural basis of minimally complex linguistic expressions”.

Abstract: Linguistic expressions consist of sequences of words, which are combined together to form bigger objects of increasing complexity. At the neuroanatomical level, our brain must be able to track down the abstract syntactic structure holding such expressions, and at the same time, it has to be able to combine together the individual meanings of the single words, to understand the overall linguistic meaning of that specific expression. The central goal of my work is dedicated to the identification of the neurobiological architecture behind syntactic and semantic processing, at the most basic levels of linguistic complexity. By employing a stepwise reductionist approach together with imaging methods, complexity is first broken down to a three-word level, to explore how minimally hierarchical phrases and sentences are processed. The analysis moves then to the most fundamental two-word level, to allow direct evaluation of syntactic and semantic combinatorial mechanisms, when no additive pr
ocesses are involved. I will try to demonstrate that: (1) Syntax is neurobiologically grounded in BA44, with activity being confined to its most ventral-anterior portion at the most fundamental level, when fine-grained sub-regional parcellation maps are taken into account. (2) FOP/adINS implements the pre-syntactic sequencing phase in which words are strung into a set before being syntactically merged; (3) BA45, the Angular Gyrus and the pSTG/STS perform functionally distinct sub-routines within the semantic network, at the interface between single-word access and more composite conceptual representations.

Bianca van Kemenade was a member of doctoral cohort 2010–2013. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Philipps-Universität Marburg. She will speak about “Predicting the multisensory consequences of one’s own action”.

Abstract: In order to establish meaningful interactions with our environment, it is crucial that we understand the relation between our actions and their sensory consequences. To this end, we generate predictions about the sensory consequences of our own actions, which are compared with the actual feedback. Matches between predicted and actual sensory consequences usually lead to sensory attenuation, whereas mismatches produce prediction errors. This action-feedback monitoring plays a crucial role in motor learning, and enables us to distinguish self-generated from externally generated stimuli. Previous studies have focused on action-feedback monitoring with stimuli from only one modality. However, our actions usually generate multisensory consequences. Whether and how we predict multisensory action consequences is still unclear. In this talk, I will present work I did during my postdoc in Marburg, investigating behavioural aspects and neural mechanisms of multisensory action predictions.

Please see also:

Career talk with Bianca van Kemenade and Floran Niefind
2 March 2017, 16.30-18.00 read more and registration ...

After completing her doctorate in 2013, Bianca stayed in the academy. She holds a postdoc position at the University of Marburg. Florian, who got his doctorate in 2015, decided to work as a data scientist at a company in Berlin. Please find their profiles below.
The career talks are an opportunity to make contact with alumni in a relaxed setting and hear about career paths in- and outside the academy.
Learn about their current jobs, their steps after the doctorate, stumbling blocks, and discuss all questions you might have.




Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Luisenstraße 56
Room 144 (ground floor)
10117 Berlin