From: Peter Ford Dominey (
Date: Thu Jun 20 2002 - 16:55:49 MET DST

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    A postdoctoral research opportunity in the Sequential Cognition and
    Language group (directed by Peter F. Dominey) at the Institut des Sciences
    Cognitives (Lyon France) is available immediately, to investigate the role
    of multiple-cue integration in language acquisition across different
    languages. The project ( is funded by
    the Human Frontiers Science Program and involves four closely interacting
    research teams in France (Peter Dominey, Institut des Sciences Cognitives),
    the US (Morten Christiansen, Cornell University), the UK (Nick Chater,
    University of Warwick), and Japan (Mieko Ogura, Tsurumi University).


    How do children acquire the subtle and complex structure of their
    native language with such remarkable speed and reliability, and with
    little direct instruction? Recent computational and acoustic analyses
    of language addressed to children indicate that there are rich cues
    to linguistic structure available in the child's input. Moreover,
    evidence from developmental psycholinguistics shows that infants are
    sensitive to many sound-based (phonological) and intonational
    (prosodic) cues in the input - cues that may facilitate language
    acquisition. Although this research indicates that linguistic input
    is rich with possible cues to linguistic structure, there is an
    important caveat: the cues are only partially reliable and none
    considered alone provide an infallible bootstrap into language. To
    acquire language successfully, it seems that the child needs to
    integrate a great diversity of multiple probabilistic cues to
    linguistic structure in an effective way.

    Our research program aims to provide a rigorous cross-linguistic test
    of the hypothesis that multiple-cue integration is crucial for the
    acquisition of syntactic structure. The research has four interrelated

       1) Computational and acoustic analyses of child-directed speech.
       2) Psycholinguistic and artificial language learning experiments.
       3) Computational modeling using neural networks and statistical
          learning methods.
       4) Event-related potential (ERP) studies.

    Specifics for the Lyon Post-Doctoral Position:
    The selected researcher will participate in this HFSP funded project
    addressing aspects of language acquisition through simulation, behavioral
    and brain imagery (ERP) studies.

    The position will involve:
    1. Statistical and acoustic analysis of natural language corpora
    2. Participation in neural network simulation of language acquisition
    processes based on the preceding analysis. An example of a this type of
    approach can be found in: Dominey PF, Ramus F (2000) Neural network
    processing of natural language: I. Sensitivity to serial, temporal and
    abstract structure of language in the infant. Language and Cognitive
    Processes, 15(1) 87-127
    3. Testing of human subjects in artificial language learning experiments.

    The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications, though
    candidates with a subset of these will also be considered:
    1. A PhD in a related discipline (linguistics/psycholinguistics, computer
    science, computational neuroscience, cognitive science).
    2. Familiarity with the Childes language database and associated analysis
    tools, and/or experience/interest in computational aspects of language
    3. Native French, and fluent English.
    4. Some computational background, with experience in the Linux/Unix C
    environment, and in cognitive neuroscience simulation.
    Interested candidates should send a letter of intention, a CV and three
    letters of recommendation to Peter F. Dominey at the address below.
    Applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. The
    position is for one to two years. In addition to salary, funds are
    available for travel to conferences and meetings between research teams.
    The position does not carry any special citizen requirements.

    Peter Ford Dominey, Ph.D.
    Institut des Sciences Cognitives
    CNRS UMR 5015
    67, Boulevard Pinel
    69675 BRON Cedex

    Telephone: 04 37 91 12 12
    Direct line: 04 37 91 12 66
    FAX: 04 37 91 12 10


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