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Momentum Project (VolkswagenStiftung): "Communication electrified - towards a natural investigation of real-time language processing" (2020-2027)


Language processing is typically investigated in the lab under highly controlled circumstances which evidently leads to the question whether the findings mirror language processing in the 'real world'. While the examination of sentence processing has advanced in recent decades, the study of larger communicative exchanges has been considerably neglected. With the advent of Experimental Pragmatics a first step has been made to shift attention to speaker intentions in communication. This interdisciplinary enterprise is aimed to improve theories of language use and to formulate cognitively and neurobiologically plausible models of language processing. Yet a systematic investigation of conversational settings in which two interlocutors interact with each other is still missing, and our knowledge of real-time language processing is thus limited. Through the establishment of an interactive EEG lab, new territory will be entered by providing a research infrastructure to investigate real-time language use in more interactive, more naturalistic and more engaging situations. With the interactive EEG lab, the study of real-time language processing will be approached from an entirely new angle. The interactive EEG lab will (i) facilitate the study of language in interaction by affording participants to communicate in more naturalistic situations. These situations will (ii) make available shared knowledge and common communicative goals among interlocutors who engage in face to face communication. The lab will further (iii) provide an experimental setting for wireless electrophysiological recordings (EEG) that allow for high temporal resolution of the underlying cognitive processes. In the future, this research infrastructure may also (iv) foster the recording and analysis of additional non-linguistic cues such as gestural or facial cues.


Petra Schumacher

Ingmar Brillmayer



Student Members:

Hanna Buhl

Zhasmina Ergasheva

Sophie Sprengel

Robert Voigt


Supported by VolkswagenStiftung

Momentum Funding