In search for the cognitive foundations of Euclidean geometry
Euclidean geometry has been historically regarded as the most “natural” geometry. Taking inspiration from the flourishing field of numerical cognition, in the past years I have been looking for the cognitive foundations of geometry: Do children, infants, and people without formal education in geometry have access to intuitive concepts that bear some of the content of Euclidean concepts? Results have been mixed. In particular, we found that angle, a central tenant of Euclidean geometry, is not intuitive for children. These results call into question the status of Euclidean geometry as a natural geometry.
Towards processing theories of conversation
Most experimental research into spoken language has focused either on speaking or on listening. However, these processes should also be studied together, not only because they naturally co-occur in conversation and likely affect each other, but also because an integrated research approach can lead to novel insights into the architecture of the cognitive system supporting language use. I will provide an overview of a research program on speaking and listening in dyadic contexts. The starting point is the model of turn-taking in conversation proposed by Levinson and Torreira (2015). Though based exclusively on observational data the model makes strong processing predictions. A key claim is that speakers begin to plan their utterances as early as possible during their interlocutor’s turn, in order to be prepared to respond quickly. Experimental evidence showed that speakers indeed begin to plan their utterances before the end of the preceding turn but, contrary to the prediction, not necessarily as early as possible. Rather than following a fixed rule (“plan as early as possible”) they appear to be quite flexible in their utterance planning. Current work aims at uncovering the factors that limit this flexibility. It appears that, in addition to social and pragmatic factors that define the speaker’s processing goals, capacity limitations arising in different components of the cognitive system play an important role. I will end by discussing how speakers might achieve smooth turn-taking without intensive linguistic dual-tasking.