from linguistic morphology to brain morphology

This DOC-team research project is an interdisciplinary investigation that examines first and second language learning processes in speakers of different ages by integrating psycholinguistic, psycho-cognitive and neurological perspectives.

It aims at developing new methods for testing language learning abilities as well as finding neuroanatomical markers for foreign language aptitude. Rather than studying language behavior in isolation, this research project also considers other cognitive skills such as working memory capacity, musical abilities and psychometric aspects and analyses the influence of social factors and their impact on language ability to explore what goes into first and second language comprehension, processing and production.

In order to identify specific differences between individuals' language abilities, the team will develop new tests to assess various dimensions and aspects of language behavior. The testing battery will include word formation tests, prosodic perception tests for both first and second/third language acquisition, phonetic perception and production tests as well as musicality tests and will be applied to different age groups (children, adolescents, adults). In combination with data on psychometric and social factors, a statistical analysis of the test results may indicate which abilities contribute to high language achievement, and how the correlations differ between age groups.

In a time where we are faced with a rapidly increasing flow of migration and highly mobile individuals moving between language communities, the project aims at finding ways for coping with linguistic superdiversity that is no longer an exception but the norm. In this context, the study of language is tasked with obtaining a better understanding of multilingual acquisition processes, generating knowhow and laying the groundwork for the development of new language learning programs that meet the demands of a multilingual society concerned with lifelong language learning.

A DOC-team fellowship
of the OeAW


Sabine Sommer-Lolei
Markus Christiner (Heidelberg University Hospital)
Sabrina Turker (University of Graz)

Project duration

01 September 2017 – 30 September 2020

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