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Scientific Talk by Friedemann Pulvermüller at Philipps-Universität Marburg: Semantic grounding in action and perception: from experimental evidence to realistic neural models of linguistic and conceptual brain function

On Wednesday, 03.07.2024, Friedemann Pulvermüller is giving a guest talk on "Semantic grounding in action and perception: from experimental evidence to realistic neural models of linguistic and conceptual brain function" at the Linguistisches Kolloquium by Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas (DSA) and Institut für germanistische Sprachwissenschaft (IGS) at Philipps-Universität Marburg

Time: 03.07.2024, 12-14 c.t. I Location: Vortragsraum 001 | Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas

News vom 24.06.2024

Friedemann Pulvermüller will give a guest talk at Philipps-Universität Marburg

Title:Semantic grounding in action and perception: from experimental evidence to realistic neural models of linguistic and conceptual brain function
Date: Wednesday, 03.07.2024
Time: 12:15-13:45
Location: Philipps-Universität Marburg, Vortragsraum 001 | Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas


Meaningful use of symbols requires grounding in action and perception through learning. The mechanisms of this sensorimotor grounding, however, are rarely specified in mechanistic terms; and mathematically precise formal models of the relevant learning processes are scarce [1]. As the brain is the device that is critical for mechanistically supporting and indeed implementing grounding, modelling needs to take into account realistic neuronal processes in the human brain [2]. This makes it desirable to use not just ‘neural’ networks that are vaguely similar to some aspects of real networks of neurons, but rather models implementing constraints imposed by brain anatomy and function, including biologically realistic learning and the local and global connectivity between areas and nuclei along with the resultant functional interplay [3].

After discussing brain constraints for cognitive modelling, the talk will focus on the biological implementation of grounding, in order to address the following questions: Why do the brains of humans -- but not those of their closest relatives -- allow for verbal working memory and learning of huge vocabularies of symbols? Why do different word and concept types seem to depend on different parts of the brain (‘category-specific’ semantic mechanisms)? Why are there ‘semantic and conceptual hubs’ in the brain where general semantic knowledge is stored -- and why would these brain areas be different from those areas where grounding information is present (i.e., the sensory and motor cortices)? And why should sensory deprivation shift language and conceptual processing toward ‘grounding areas’ -- for example toward the visual cortex in the blind? I will argue that brain-constrained modelling is necessary to answer (some of) these questions and, more generally, to explain the mechanisms of grounding [3-6].

[1] Pulvermüller, F. (2018). Neural reuse of action perception circuits for language, concepts and communication. Progress in Neurobiology, 160, 1-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2017.07.001

[2] Pulvermüller, F., Tomasello, R., Henningsen-Schomers, M. R., & Wennekers, T. (2021). Biological constraints on neural network models of cognitive function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 22(8), 488-502.

[3] Pulvermüller, F. (2024). Neurobiological mechanisms for language, symbols and concepts: Clues from brain-constrained depp neural networks. Progress in Neurobiology,in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2023.102511

[4] Dobler, F. R., Pulvermüller, F., & Henningsen-Schomers, M. R. (2024). Temporal dynamics of concrete and abstract concept and symbol processing: A brain constrained modelling study. Language learning, in press.

[5] Henningsen-Schomers, M. R., Garagnani, M., & Pulvermüller, F. (2023). Influence of language on perception and concept formation in a brain-constrained deep neural network model. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 378(1870), 20210373. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0373

[6] Nguyen, P. T. U., Henningsen-Schomers, M. R., & Pulvermüller, F. (2024). Causal influence of linguistic learning on perceptual and conceptual processing: A brain-constrained deep neural network study of proper names and category terms. J Neurosci, in press.

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