About the Project
The proposed PhD project adopts an embodied perspective in studying the mental representation of syntax. Embodied cognition theories argue that mind and body are causally interdependent. Semantics (meaning), for instance, has been shown to base on sensorimotor and affective simulation (e.g., the meaning of apple is represented in our bodily experience of interacting with an actual apple). Despite its different forms across languages, syntax may be grounded in bodily representations that are shared across the globe.
We will test how syntax may be embodied in common experience using behavioural, eye tracking and electroencephalography (EEG). In particular, we will focus how speech prosody and hand actions influence the processing of garden-path sentences (e.g., the old man the boat / 他喜欢喝酒的朋友). Such sentences require re-interpretation of their structures (e.g., from the old man / the boat to the old / man the boat; from 他喜欢喝酒 / 的朋友 to 他喜欢 / 喝酒的朋友).
The project will provide an understanding of how syntax is mentally represented, and underpins the development of body-based language training methods in educational and clinical settings.
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject related to the project. This could be Cognitive or Experimental Psychology, or Psycholinguistics. Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. Candidates who speak English or Chinese as their first language will be favourably considered.
For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website View Website
- Glenberg, A. M., & Gallese, V. (2012). Action-based language: a theory of language acquisition, comprehension, and production. Cortex, 48(7), 905–922.
- Kreiner, H., & Eviatar, Z. (2014). The missing link in the embodiment of syntax: prosody. Brain and Language, 137, 91–102.
- Yao, B., & Scheepers, C. (2018). Silent reading of direct speech quotations promotes low relative-clause attachment in English. Cognition, 176, 248-254.
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