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Theoretical Framework

The institute marshals a real world (more ecologically valid) approach to the study of language and social interactions

The human brain has evolved the ability to support communication in complex and dynamic environments. In such environments, language is learned, and mostly used in face-to-face contexts in which processing and learning is based on multiple cues: linguistic (such as lexical, syntactic), but also discourse, prosody, face and hands (gestures) as well as other cues from the environment (such as the objects present). Yet, our understanding of how language is learnt and processed, and its associated neural circuitry, comes almost exclusively from reductionist approaches in which the multimodal signal is reduced to speech or text. The Institute for Multimodal Communication takes a real-world approach to the study of language and, more broadly, social interaction in which we analyse the rich face-to-face multimodal environment. In our work, experimental rigour is not compromised by the use of technologies (see Institute facilities), state-of-the-art modelling and data analysis.Our goal is to develop accounts of multimodal communication and social interaction at the cognitive as well as neural level.