Symposium 2015


Psycholinguistic Models as Explanatory Links between Lexical Access and Functional Communication Deficits

DATES:  15 -16 October, 2015


PROGRAM: Download pdf here.

Recent papers on hearing-­loss induced communication difficulties suggest that “linguistic skills”, such as e.g., vocabulary size, are strong predictors of individual performance in speech perception tests in elderly and/or hard-­of hearing adults; the argument being that the vocabulary size increases with age,and the larger the vocabulary, the better the performance on speech in noise tests involving simple sentences with easy and frequent words. But why exactly should the common word car be more readily understood by older listeners than by young adults? The assumption that large vocabulary size or “better linguistic skills” lead to better speech perception may just as easily be reversed: The more words a listener knows, the more difficult or effortful it can become to eliminate competitors. A similar problem arises in the field of language acquisition in hearing impaired children, who are known to perform much more poorly in speech perception and language processing tasks compared to normally hearing peers. It is, of course, easy to argue that insufficient and degraded input results in poorly defined lexical entries in the mental lexicon, and/or misrepresentations on a grammatical (morpho-­syntactic) level. But it is puzzling to see that congenital hearing impairment seems to result in the same functional difficulties as untreated long-­term (post-­lingual) hearing loss in old age. In terms of performanceon traditional diagnostic tests, it does not seem to matter whether the listener has ever properly acquired his native language. Traditional and more recent psycholinguistic models could offer much more detailed explanations.Models of access mechanisms to the mental lexicon may thus bridge the gap between stored lexical  information, semantic (and neural) connections between entries, perceptual difficulties associated with age and hearing impairment, and performance on speech/ hearing tests.

This symposium will bring together experts working on different aspects of the Mental Lexicon (storage, access, and integration), language acquisition and aging, and general speech perception disorders (especially: hearing impairment). Our goal is to expand the interpretations and exploratory approaches resulting from own data to fit the data of other populations with communication deficits, such as pre-­ and postlingual hearing impairment. The focus of this meeting will be the role of the Mental Lexicon, but other supporting and/or challenging aspects related to speech perception in challenging conditions may be added. Finding applications of current models and predictions on the Mental Lexicon to diagnostics and/or rehabilitation of speech perception deficits is both desirable and appreciated.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Prediction and modeling of lexical access and vocabulary knowledge
  • Restoration mechanisms in different populations
  • Lexical access in the elderly
  • Lexical access in hearing impaired populations
  • Lexical access in congenitally/ prelingually deaf children
  • Phonetic/acoustic restrictions for speech perception in hearing impairment
  • Role of other linguistic skills and processing mechanisms (e.g., sentence comprehension, verbal working memory, attention,…)

Invited Speakers

Esther Janse, RU Nijmegen
Bernd Meyer, U Oldenburg
Michael Ramscar, U Tübingen
Esther Ruigendijk, U Oldenburg
Odette Scharenborg, RU Nijmegen
Atty Schouwenaars, U Oldenburg
Eva Smolka, U Konstanz
Antje Strauß, GIPSA Grénoble
Michael Vitevitch
, U Kansas
Anita Wagener, UMC Groningen
Kirsten Weber, HWK Delmenhorst/ MPI Nijmegen


Download pdf here.


Lehmkuhlenbusch 4
27753 Delmenhorst
Directions (external link)