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Inferential processes in literal and figurative lexical interpretation: a comparative psycho-pragmatic study of healthy, autistic and schizophrenic subjects


This project aims to build on current research in both experimental psycholinguistics and cognitive pragmatics with the objective of achieving a better understanding of the role of inference in lexical interpretation. Although research on lexical pragmatic s has been carried out both in the United States and Europe, the approach has been more experimentally oriented in American universities. I therefore intend to spend the first phase of the fellowship undertaking empirical research at Princeton, where I wil l be able to investigate theoretical questions that have arisen from my doctoral research. I would be particularly interested in familiarising myself with new research technologies from cognitive neuroscience, such as ERP and fMRI. In the second phase, I i ntend to return to UCL, which has been a centre for groundbreaking work on cognitive pragmatics over the last twenty years. There, I would like to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the first phase to an innovative project investigating lexical inter pretation in autistic and schizophrenic people. A comparative study between normal and cognitively dysfunctional participants should allow us to test theoretical models of lexical interpretation, as well as investigate the language comprehension deficits t hat these groups seem to have, in particular with figurative language. I believe that the opportunity of complementing my theoretical background by learning about experimental methods beyond those I used in my doctoral research would allow me to make a valuable contribution to the development of experimental pragmatics in Europe.

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Gower Street
United Kingdom

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