Monday, April 16, 2012

Call for papers: Neurobiology of Language Conference

Neurobiology of Language Conference
San Sebastian, Spain, October 25-27, 2012
Abstracts due June 25, 2012
Further info:

Keynote Sessions

Barbara K. Finlay

Beyond columns and areas: developmental gradients and regionalization of the neocortex and their likely consequences for functional organization.

Barb Finlay is a Professor of Psychology, Cornell University. Professor Finlay holds the William R. Kenan Chair of Psychology and is co-Editor of Brain and Behavioral Sciences. Finlay is an expert on the evolution and development of sensory systems and the cerebral cortex.

Nikos K. Logothetis

In vivo Connectivity: Paramagnetic Tracers, Electrical Stimulation &   Neural-Event Triggered fMRI

Nikos Logothetis is the Director of the Department of Cognitive Processes at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tubingen, Germany. Logothetis is well known for his studies of the physiological mechanisms underlying visual perception and object recognition as well as his more recent work on measurements of how the functional magnetic resonance imaging signal relate to neural activity. Logothetis will talk to us on:

Panel Discussions

Nina F. Dronkers vs Julius Fridriksson

What is the role of the insula in speech and language?

Nina Dronkers is the Director of the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders, and Adjunct Professor of Neurology and Language, U.C. Davis, California. Dronkers is an expert in the Aphasia and more generally the cerebral localization of language.
Julius Fridriksson is a Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of South Carolina, and Director of the Aphasia Laboratory, UNC. Fridriksson is well known for his work in aphasia – neuroimaging and treatment.

Matthew Lambon Ralph vs Jeffrey R. Binder

Role of Angular Gyrus in Semantic Processing

Matt Lambon Ralph is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Associate Vice-President Research, University of Manchester, U.K. His lab uses neuropsychology, computational modeling, TMS, and functional neuroimaging to investigage semantic memory, language, recovery, rehabilitation, and neuroplasticity.
Jeffrey Binder, M.D. is a Professor of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Director of the Language Imaging Laboratory. Professor Binder has made important contributions on the neural basis of language (esp. speech and word recognition) and is the incoming president of SNL.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Call for papers: From Grooming to Speaking

From Grooming to Speaking 

Date: 10-Sep-2012 - 11-Sep-2012 
Location: Lisbon, Portugal 
Contact Person: Nathalie Gontier
Web Site: 

Call Deadline: 30-Jun-2012 

Meeting Description:

The Centre for Philosophy of Science of the Faculty of Science of the Portuguese University of Lisbon is organizing a 2-day international colloquium entitled 'From Grooming to Speaking: Recent Trends in social Primatology and Human Ethology', on September 10-11, 2012. 

Plenary talks will be given by: 

Johan Bolhuis 
Augusta Gaspar 
Nathalie Gontier 
Mary Lee Jensvold 
Simone Pika 
Tim Racine 
Jordan Zlatev 
More tba 

Organizing Committee: 

Nathalie Gontier (chair), Dutch Free University of Brussels, Belgium 
Olga Pombo, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Call for Papers: 

Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2012. 

We call for primatologists, ethologists, anthropologists, sociobiologists, evolutionary, cognitive and comparative psychologists, biolinguists, evolutionary linguists, bio-ethicists, philosophers and historians of science, to provide talks on: 

(1) Historical reviews on the introduction and use of primate studies to acquire knowledge on the origin and evolution of communication and language 

- The rise of comparative psychology, ethology, primatology, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary linguistics, and evolutionary anthropology 
- Cross-fostering experiments, experiments that had as goal to learn non-human primates to talk or sign, or to learn artificial languages such as Yerkes 
- The shifts from behaviorism and instructionism to cognitivism and selectionism 
- The nature/culture debate 
- The innate/acquired debate 
- The continuity/discontinuity debate 

(2) Methodologies of primate communication and language research 

- Which research methodologies combine and diversify ethologists, primatologists, sociobiologists, anthropologists, evolutionary psychologists and evolutionary linguists? (ASL and Yerkes experiments; instructionist, behavioral versus selectionist, adaptationist approaches; the use and disuse of Tinbergen's 4 questions in ethology; how to study ultimate and proximate causes of behavior) 
- Did classic ethology and comparative psychology, with its focus on instructionist and behaviorist methodologies, fail? Did the cognitive turn succeed in providing answers there were behaviorism failed? And is selection theory able to provide answers to questions neither ethologists nor cognitivists could? 
- Which methodologies are used to study (human) primate verbal and non-verbal communication strategies in wild, captive, and natural settings (how are experiments set up, how are biases controlled, how is data collected and interpreted, how are theories formed)? 
- How do ontogenetic studies of normal and pathological behavior lend insight into phylogeny (what aspects of development enable or disable scientists to draw inferences on human evolution, what's the rationale behind comparative research, how do pathologies lend insight, either into normal development, or into the evolutionary past of hominins)? 
- How do the primate and ethological research methodologies differ from, relate to, or complement genetic and neurological research? 

(3) Theories on primate communication and the evolution of language 

- Gestural versus vocal origin theories (grooming as gossip theories, mirror neurons, non-verbal communication theories (including facial expressions, pointing and gestural research), co-verbal gesturing theories, signing theories, mimesis, imitation) 
- Evolutionary theories on language as a social communication device 
- Theory of Mind versus embodiment theory, in human and non-human primates 
- Theories on learning (conditioning, observational learning, imitation) 
- Theories on cultural transmission (chimpanzee, bonobo and human cultures) 
- Which theoretical frameworks and evolutionary mechanisms enable adequate explanations on language evolution (natural selection, drift, systems theory, the Baldwin and ratchet effect, co-evolutionary theories, dual inheritance theories) 

(4) Ethical issues in social primatology and human ethology 

- Policy and guidelines on (human) primate studies in the wild, under captivity, or under experimental conditions 
- Animal rights (e.g. if non-human primates have ToM, do we need to attribute them legal rights, does the concept of 'legal person' apply to non-human primates) 
- The role and responsibility of researchers 

Much more than provide a platform for the dissemination of new research results, the conference organizers will give preference to reflexive talks that deal with theoretical, methodological and ethical issues of primate research and ethology, and how the latter fields provide insight into human language evolution. 


A selection of talks will be published in an anthology for the Springer Book Series 'Interdisciplinary Evolution Research'. Editors-in-chief of the series are Nathalie Gontier and Olga Pombo. 

Submission guidelines can be found at: 

Scientific Committee: 

Luc Faucher, UQAM, Candada 
Nathalie Gontier, Free University of Brussels, Belgium (chair) 
David Leavens, University of Sussex, UK 
Robert Lickliter, Florida International University, US 
Mark Nelissen, University of Antwerp, Belgium 
James Steele, University College London, UK 
Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History, NY 
Natalie Uomini, University of Liverpool, UK 
Arie Verhagen, University of Leiden, the Netherlands

Monday, April 2, 2012

Evolang 2012 wrap-up

Nuestros amigos at Sintaxi de Butxaca have posted some very nice video interviews with many participants from Evolang 2012, and you can also find coverage at A Replicated Typo here (reaction to Boeckx), here (on Tamariz' poster), here (on Suzkuki, Sakai, & Adachi), here (on L2 learners affecting language change), here (reaction to Fisher), here (reaction to McCrohon), here (reaction to Smith), here (reaction to Piattelli-Palmarini), and even more here. Be sure to check it out!