Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC)

We study how people communicate with each other and how computer systems can be taught to communicate with us.


Colloquia Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication

This page will provide you with an overview of all TiCC colloquia. If you have questions or suggestions for the TiCC colloquium, please contact us.

Me, myself & my mobile: status, identity and belonging in the Mobile Youth Culture

  • Mariek Vanden Abeele
  • 5 December 2012

Researchers increasingly use the concept of Mobile Youth Culture to refer to the central place that the mobile phone occupies in the life of adolescents. The concept can be situated in theories about mobile phone use on the one hand, and in theories about youth culture on the other. Three aspects of the mobile phone impact on the life of youngsters: the socialngsters: the social, the network and the personal aspect. The social aspect deals with the essentially social nature of mobile communication: the mobile phone provides new ways to enhance social interaction among young people, not only by allowing them to communicate anywhere/anytime but, moreover, by offering them additional ways to enhance their interactions. In this ‘age’ of smartphones, they can manifest their friendship ties by sharing music, exchanging pictures, etc. The network aspect lies in the ‘emancipatory’ effect of the mobile for youngsters, by allowing them access to and control over their social networks. The personal aspect, finally, is related to the possibility of using the mobile as one of the ways for youths to express their identity and their ‘self’. The Mobile Youth Culture concept implies a functional definition of youth culture, i.e.: it refers to shared behaviors and attitudes of youngsters that reflect a common developmental trajectory. This functional approach also reveals the weakness of the concept of Mobile Youth Culture, namely its lack of attention for differences in developmental trajectories. These may strongly affect the challenges that youths face in growing up, and thus also how they use the mobile phone to deal with them. Two such differences in developmental trajectories are adolescents’ position in the school system and in the peer group. Based on the results of my dissertation research project, which entailed a survey study among 1144 tweens (10-12y) and 1943 teens (12-18y), I will address how these factors affect the importance of the mobile as a status object, motives for mobile use in the context of youth friendship ties, and behaviors like ‘sexting’ and the possession of pornographic images on the mobile.

Cloud Protesting: Collective Action in Times of Social Media

  • Stefania Milan (Our newest colleague!)
  • 14 November 2012

Social media are changing the way people organize, mobilize, and protest. Organizing has become easier and quicker. Organizational patterns have transformed, as individuals become more prominent at the expense of traditional movement organizations. Protest tends to be temporary and elusive. The narrative of the action is no longer centralized and controlled by movement organizations, but any activist can contribute, by creating a digital identity and producing, selecting, and diffusing texts and audiovisual material. Surveillance, too, has become diffused and can be outsourced to the movement itself. Borrowing the metaphor from computing, I call this type of mobilizing 'cloud protesting'. Contemporary mobilizations can be seen as a cloud, that is to say an imagined online space where a set of soft resources facilitating mobilization (such as identities, narratives, and know-how) coexist. They are selected and shaped by individuals who can in this way tailor their participation to collective action. In this talk, I will explore different aspects of the 'cloud' seen in relation to the technical properties of social media, including organizational patterns, identity building, tactics, and surveillance mechanisms.

Keeping your place: The role of the visual modality in reference tracking in sign and gesture

  • Pamela Perniss (Deafness, Cognition an Language Research Centre, UCL)
  • 3 October 2012

Reference tracking – knowing who does what to whom – is a crucial part of discourse and depends in large part on marking the referential status of referents. In spoken languages, consistent linguistic devices mark referents occurring in different referential contexts, i.e. maintenancevs. (re-)introduction contexts (Givón 1984; Hickmann & Hendriks 1999). In contrast, we know little about how referential context influences expression in the visual modality, i.e. in co-speech gesture and signed language, where the iconic and deictic affordances of the hands and space provide unique means of identifying and representing referents (Gullberg 2006; McNeill 1992; So et al. 2009, for co-speech gesture). In this talk, I investigate the use of the visual modality in marking referential context by comparing German Sign Language and German co-speech gesture, looking at the types of signs and gestures used and the use of space for referent localization and identification. Findings are discussed in terms of similarities and differences between sign and gesture, demonstrating, on the one hand, the influence of the shared affordances of the visual modality on marking referential context and, on the other hand, the differential modulation of these affordances when using the visual modality within a one-channel (sign) vs. a two-channel (co-speech gesture) system. The results contribute to our understanding of the influence of modality on shaping not just grammatical structure, but also discourse structure.

Casanova: a language for making games

  • Giuseppe Maggiore (NHTV University of Applied Sciences)
  • 12 September 2012

The main aim of Casanova is to offer a hybrid language that mixes elements of declarative, imperative, and functional programming language in order to simplify game making while retaining as much as possible of the expressive power that traditional game development tools offer. Casanova keeps the developer's focus on the game mechanics, and tries to prevent the "drift" into deep technicalities that is widespread among game programmers; the language does so by requesting specification only of those details which are strictly needed to define the game, and filling the gaps with boilerplate code.

Promoting Flexible Translations and Preventing Multiword Expressions from Polluting the Phrasetable

  • in Statistical Machine Translation
  • Rico Sennrich
  • 31 August 2012

While SMT systems can learn to translate multiword expressions (MWEs) from parallel text, they typically have no notion of non-compositionality, and thus overgeneralize translations that are only used in certain contexts. I describe a novel approach to measure the flexibility of a phrase pair, i.e. its tendency to occur in many contexts, in contrast to phrase pairs that are only valid in one or a few fixed expressions. The measure learns from the parallel training text, is simple to implement and language independent. I argue that flexible phrase pairs should be preferred over inflexible ones, and present experiments in which we observe performance gains of up to 1.1 BLEU points.

Self-organisation of quality dimensions in conceptual spaces

  • Paula Roncaglia-Denissen
  • 31-05-2012

In this event-related potential (ERP) study we investigated the role of rhythm in the disambiguation of syntactic structures during auditory sentence processing. We presented participants with syntactically ambiguous German sentences embedded in regular and irregular rhythmic patterns. Rhythmically regular pattern was ensured by constant inter-stress interval which created rhythmic groups with constant size. Accuracy rates reveal that participants made less errors in rhythmically regular sentences than in rhythmically irregular ones. ERP results show a reduction in the P600 mean amplitude for object-first sentences in rhythmically regular context in comparison with their rhythmically irregular counterparts. This reduction suggests a facilitation effect through the decrease of processing costs for the less-preferred structure (object-first sentences). Our findings suggest that rhythmic regularity may be used as cue to facilitate the processing of syntactic complexity in auditory sentence processing.

Gaming in higher and professional education

  • Rens Kortman
  • 14-03-2012

Gaming is increasingly used in an educational setting. In my talk I will provide some background notions on the use of gaming in higher and professional education. The theory will be illustrated though a TU Delft teaching case study and projects. For instance, we have used Biggs’ theory on constructive alignment to design a game-based course on high-tech management. For Rijkswaterstaat, the Department of Waterways and Public Works in The Netherlands, we are currently developing a game-based professional training on leadership development. Finally, as part of the European network of excellence ‘Games and Learning Alliance’ (GALA) we participate in the development of a game-based curriculum for teaching entrepreneurship competencies to students of technical universities in Europe. The talk will provide ample room for discussion and exchange of ideas.

Connecting Semantic Argument Structure to Discourse

  • Alexis Palmer
  • 29-02-2012

Automated understanding of discourse requires identifying the participants in the discourse, the situations they participate in, and the various relationships between and among both participants and situations. To date, computational linguistics has had some success with some aspects of this problem, including coreference resolution and shallow semantic analysis of individual sentences. One of the next great challenges is to achieve semantic analysis of entire documents, an enterprise which suffers from both the low coverage of existing semantic resources (such as PropBank, FrameNet, and WordNet) and the need to capture many different types and levels of linguistic signals. In this talk I will discuss two pieces of work related to semantic analysis of full texts. First, we will look at the task of automatic semantic role labeling (SRL) in the FrameNet paradigm. The limited coverage of existing resources motivates the need for something beyond traditional supervised machine learning approaches, so we consider a model which extends nicely to instances not encountered in the training data. Second, I will present early work on an unsupervised approach which aims to link the semantic argument structure of individual sentences to the semantic context of the document in which they appear. Here we employ a notion of semantic schemas/scenarios to group related events and predicates. If time allows, I will conclude with a brief discussion of Modes of Discourse (Smith 2003) and their potential role in understanding the semantic content of a text. This talk includes joint work with Afra Alishahi, Jason Baldridge, Elias Ponvert, Carlota Smith, and Caroline Sporleder.

Investigating syntactic representations using structural priming

  • Roger P.G. van Gompel
  • 23-02-2012

The structural priming method has been a very fruitful method for investigating the syntactic representations that people access during language production (Pickering & Ferreira, Psychological Bulletin, 2008). I will present a series of structural priming experiments that investigated whether structural representations are lexically based (e.g., part of the verb's lemma information) or more abstract in nature. Research by Van Gompel, Arai, and Pearson (Journal of Memory and Language, in press) suggests that representations are lexically based, except monotransitive structures, because this is the most common, default structure in English. I will also present recent work that shows that lexically-based structures are represented as part of the head noun's lemma, but not as part of the lemmas of non-heads, consistent with most linguistic theories.