ModelBot Award for ESR Baris Serhan and PI Angelo Cangelosi

The nominees for the MODELBot award (MOdelling DEvelopment and Learning with robots and computers) were selected among the papers submitted to the MODELBot challenge. These are papers that establish a strong link between developmental studies on the one hand and robotic and /or computational modeling on the other hand. The papers were presented in a common session at the IEEE ICDL-EpiRobb 2019 Conference and the winner decided by audience vote, based on which paper best fulfills the requirements of the MODELBot challenge. 

Congratulations to Baris Serhan and Angelo Cangelosi, Authors of the paper ‘Replication of Infant Behaviours with a Babybot: Early Pointing Gesture Comprehension’, who were delighted to win the Award and pictured is ESR Baris Serhan:

Deictic Communication – Theory and Application Conference

The final event Conference was held at the University of East Anglia on 8-9 July 2019.  With keynote presentations from Prof. Leonard Talmy, University of Buffalo, USA and Prof. Anna Borghi, Sapienza University of Rome and CNR, Italy, the DCOMM ESRs also presented their research.  For the latest Conference tweets see DCOMM Twitter and as this Project draws to a close we wish all the DCOMM ESRs well with their future research and careers.

New article from ESR Roberta Rocca

Roberta Rocca , Kristian Tylén, and Mikkel Wallentin have a new journal article out in Plos One: This shoe, that tiger: Semantic properties reflecting manual affordances of the referent modulate demonstrative use


Demonstrative reference is central to human communication. But what influences our choice of demonstrative forms such as “this” and “that” in discourse? Previous literature has mapped the use of such “proximal” and “distal” demonstratives onto spatial properties of referents, such as their distance from the speaker. We investigated whether object semantics, and specifically functional properties of referents, also influence speakers’ choices of either demonstrative form. Over two experiments, we presented English, Danish and Italian speakers with words denoting animate and inanimate objects, differing in size and harmfulness, and asked them to match them with a proximal or a distal demonstrative. Objects that offer more affordances for manipulation (smaller and harmless) elicited significantly more proximal demonstratives. These effects were stronger for inanimate referents, in line with the predictions of sensory-functional views on object semantics. These results suggest that demonstrative use may be partly grounded on manual affordances, and hints at the possibility of using demonstratives as a proxy to investigate the organization of semantic knowledge.

Training Course 2: Dissemination and academic skills

On the this training course, hosted by  Friedrich Schiller University Jena, researchers participated in a full day video workshop to learn how to make, shoot, cut and present videos particularly to enable ESRs to showcase their research.  On the second day, following linguistics lectures from Karsten Schmidtke-Bode and Christoph Rzymski, ESRs discussed academic skills and possible research collaborations.

Training School 3: Individual differences in Deictic Communication

For the third Training School, Researchers and PIs were welcomed by the Head of the Department of Language and Literature at NTNU, Professor Annlaug I. Bjørsnøs There was then an opportunity to consider individual variation in predictive language process and to further consider developmental systems and developmental language disorders.  On the second day ESRs received a talk about Research Ethics and career prospects.