SAVANT Project

The ESRC funded SAVANT project (Systematicity and Variation In Word Structure Processing Across Languages: A Neuro-Typology Approach) is a program of Neuro-Typology, which combines the extremely high temporal resolution of Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Encephalography (EEG) with the simplicity and practicality of a single word reading paradigm implemented systematically across a typologically diverse and understudied set of languages. In our previous work on English and Greek, we have uncovered systematic behavioural and neural differences between morphosyntactic processing and morphosemantic processing, that seem to rely on the same resources, and have the same temporal profile, as syntactic structure building and semantic interpretation at the sentence level. With SAVANT, we will extend this research to additional underinvestigated Indo-European languages, and to unrelated language families.

Careful comparison within and between languages in our sample will address two key questions:

Q1: to what extent do all languages engage the same neural resources, at the same time, and in the same sequence, to detect and interpret complex words?

Q2: how do systematic differences between languages modulate this shared processing stream?

The two languages we have already investigated (English and Greek), plus the 5 languages we’ll investigate in this project (Tagalog, Bangla, Arabic, Slovenian and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) are, or course, still only a tiny subset of the world’s languages. So a major goal of this project is to create a template and toolkit that will make it possible to extend this investigation, or similar neurotypological projects, to a far broader range of languages.

Core Managment Team: PI: Linnaea Stockall, Co-Is: Christina Manouilidou, UvL & Alec Marantz, NYU/NYUAD, Project Administrator: Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, QMUL/Cambridge

ProjectSouth SlavicArabicTagalogBangla
Team LeadersRok Žaucer, UvNGSamantha Wray, DartmouthSamantha WrayDustin Chacón, NYUAD
Research StaffBojana Ristic, UCL/UvLSuhail Matar, NYU, RAs to be recruitedDave Cayado, QMUL,PreDoc to be recruited

This project runs from March 1st 2021 to August 31st 2024.