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The Role of Intention in Language Processing


"The ability to use language is one of the defining properties of human cognition. On the one hand, the purely linguistic aspects involved in the comprehension and production of language are a uniquely human faculty. On the other hand, the use of language involves complex, higher-order functioning such as intention, essential to mental life. Indeed, a reader and speaker can choose which written information to consciously process and which words to say, respectively, as well as use these skills for different linguistic purposes. The present project aims at bridging these two prototypically human behaviors, by exploring the role of intention in language processing and we will do so for both the active process which is speaking and the passive process which is reading. Investigating the interaction between language and intention is particularly timely given the increasing amount of evidence in other areas of cognitive science highlighting that cognition arises through the early interplay between input-driven and top-down driven intentional processes. Concretely, the project has three (related) main parts: Part 1 will focus on how the conscious intention to engage in a linguistic act (global goal-directed linguistic intention) affects the way words are accessed and retrieved from long-term memory. In part 2, we will explore how distinct language operations one can use may affect the processing of the same input (local goal-directed linguistic intention). Finally, in part 3 and end goal of the project, we will construct and implement a computational model of how top-down intention can modulate lexical processing, with the aim to provide a theory of language functioning from a broader perspective on human cognition and goal-directed behavior."

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Rue michel ange 3
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Béatrice Saint-Cricq (Ms.)
EU contribution
No data