Dr. Haihua Pan, Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. Jonathan Webster, Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. Cecilia Chan, Associate Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. Paul Law, Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. Peppina Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. Li Bin, Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dr. ChinLung Yang, Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Recent years have witnessed a surge of interest and enthusiasm to understand the human cognitive abilities and associated functional neuroanatomy exploited in language processing, language learning and bilingual processes. Indeed, important discoveries on neural reality of the processes and representational levels exploited during language processing, acquisition and learning have provided cornerstone evidence that is essential to distinguish competing language models, spanning through a wide spectrum of linguistic domains (phonology, morphology, semantic, syntax, anaphora and pragmatic); and that provides essential basis to implement learning environment that optimally facilitate language learning through effective intervention techniques that lead to successful reading outcomes. To illustrate, the finding of neuroanatomical differences between dyslexia children of Chinese vs. English by Siok, and her colleagues (Nature, 2004, impact factor: 31.43; PNAS, 2005, 2007, 2008, impact factor: 9.38) have important implication in reading education, specifically in the early identification of dyslexia children as well as the development of intervention techniques that aims to improve Chinese dyslexia children’s reading outcomes.
Nevertheless, the cognitive/neurocognitive studies of language processes for L1 processing and acquisition as well as L2 learning and bilingual processing in the past three decades have been conducted in two asymmetrical manners: (a). While most of these studies were carried out on English-speaking children and English speakers learning European languages as second or foreign languages, relatively few studies have conducted systematically on Chinese-speaking children and Chinese learners learning English as a second language (L2/ESL); (b). While studies of the basic level of reading (word/vocabulary) have advanced our understanding of the universality and particularity of cognitive and neuroanatomical bases for the word/vocabulary processing in a reading brain, the higher-order levels of reading (sentence/text) have received relative little attention. This is particularly evident for bilingual study in that the bilingual processing of text representation and integration is an area that has received little attention in the psycholinguistic literature on bilingualism (Tokowicz, & Perfetti, 2005). Thus, it is critical to establish a research agenda of language study that will be integrative in the issues being examined, from the very basic perceptual constraints on word levels (phonology, semantics & morphosyntactic) to the integrative levels (sentence/text) comprehension; and that will focus on language processing for not only L1 readers but also for L2 in the learning and bilingual processing under Chinese context.
The establishment of the Language and Cognition Group at the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics at the City University of Hong Kong aims to demonstrate deep interdisciplinary sophistication in studies of cognitive/neurocognitive bases exploited in the L1 and L2 language processing, acquisition and learning under Chinese context. This research agenda defines important strategic initiatives by extending the existing areas of strengths at the CTL in the language studies of comparative, corpus-based, cognitive and computational to the studies of language-related cognitive abilities and functional neuroanatomy by applying advanced techniques of cognitive/neurocognitive sciences (i.e., eye-tracking, EyeLink 1000; event-related potentials (ERPs), EGI System 300) with state-of-the-art multidisciplinary research facilities (please refer to the "Equipment” at the “Justification of the budget”.
The CTL has excelled in applying its nuclear focus of programmatic research (e.g., comparative, corpus-based, cognitive and computational) to constitute the existing areas of strength at City University of Hong Kong in the application of linguistics and language technology. Specifically, in the Department, we have the following staff members that, on the basis of their diverse and solid academic records, constitute a strong intellectual force in applying interdisciplinary and theoretical emphasis at the crossroads of linguistic, neuroscience and experimental psychology: Prof. Jonathan Webster on Systemic Functional Linguistics, Prof. Haihua Pan, Dr. Peppina Lee, and Dr. Paul Law on syntax and semantics; Dr. Cecilia Chan and Dr. Li Bin on second language acquisition; and Dr. ChinLung Yang on the cognitive and neurocognitive basis of reading comprehension and language learning. These staff members have demonstrated strong records in attracting both intramural and extramural fundings for projects that investigate essential issues on the human cognitive abilities and associated neural correlates related to language comprehension and acquisition as well as bilingual processes in Chinese context, spanning in a wide spectrum of linguistic fields. We illustrate the major grant record below.
Consequently, the current initiative to incorporate a deep cognitive/neurocognitive approach with state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research facilities comprises a critical strategy to ensure the sustainability of the existing areas of strengths of CTL. With such state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research facilities, the Language and Cognition Laboratory (LCL) plays an essential role to equip the CTL intellectual force to conduct language studies of multidisciplinary paradigms with advanced cognitive/neurocognitive research techniques (SR EyeLink 1000 for eye-movement data & EGI System 300 for brainwave data) to uptake the following lines of research under Chinese context. First, to conduct systematic and programmatic research on Chinese-speaking children and Chinese learners learning English as a second language (L2/ESL) because most of the studies in this line of research were carried out on English-speaking children and English speakers learning European languages as second or foreign languages. Second, to conduct systematic and programmatic research on the cognitive/neurocognitive bases of the higher-order levels of reading (sentence/text) in Chinese because much research of higher-level language processes is conducted in a single language (mostly English) and much bilingual studies with English and Chinese have been mostly done about elementary processes concerning lexical and syntactic processes but hardly ever on higher-level comprehension while at the same time maintaining the respective methodological rigor. By synthesizing and integrating findings from multidisciplinary paradigms and in the context of established theoretical frameworks, the CTL staff members aim to develop cognitive/neurocognitive models of Chinese reading in the lead that can be employed to promote the use of Chinese in a variety of aspects for social-science research, spanned both application and theoretical domains.
To maintain the sustainability of the Area of Excellence (AOE) of the CTL by:
By synthesizing and integrating findings from multidisciplinary paradigms and in the context of established theoretical frameworks, the current project will provide a solid, empirical basis to develop cognitive and neuronetwork models of Chinese reading at different linguistic levels (word/sentence/text) that can be further developed for a GRF scale grant in two ways: First, unique and testable hypothesis regarding to the neural correlates exploited during Chinese reading, learning and bilingual processes at different linguistic levels can be derived to test with advanced neuroimaging techniques such as the electroencephalogram (EEGs) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that will be able to shed lights in the neuronal realities of the processing and representation of Chinese reading and learning. Second, prior studies have reported various unique properties in creating comprehension ambiguity and difficulty during Chinese reading at different linguistic levels (Lee, 2006; Huang, 1985). The projects conducted in the Language and Cognition Group will provide pioneering works that can be further extended to pinpoint important questions of processing and representation of language comprehension and learning as well as bilingual processes under Chinese context that can be answered by applying our paradigms and established findings.
Page last updated: 5 June 2012