In September 2015, I began working on my PhD project, where I conduct research on how our brain deals with vagueness and context-sensitivity in language. I am supervised by prof. Robert van Rooij and dr. Jakub Szymanik at ILLC and by prof. Herbert Schriefers at the Donders Institute.

Specifically, my research is about processing scalar (also called vague or gradable) adjectives such as ‘tall’, ‘long’, ‘many’, ‘few’. The special property of these adjectives is that they have no fixed meaning, and, therefore, can express different things in different contexts. In order to find out how we understand their meaning, I am taking into account the properties of our cognitive system for perceiving and retrieving magnitudes – the so-called generalized magnitude system. In my experiments, I compare processing of numbers and of scalar adjectives, where numbers refer to precise quantities, whereas adjectives refer to magnitudes without giving any specific value. The second approach that I took in my PhD project is inspecting adjective-noun composition processes. Here, the idea is to compare the time-course of combination of different types of adjectives and a noun.

My PhD project is part of a big Dutch research consortium Language in Interaction, which aims to bring together researchers from neuroscience, psycholinguistics and computational scientists.

Other research projects

Besides my main line of research, I worked on predictive processing in language comprehension, and it remains my continuing interest. I am also interested in new ways of data collection in psychology, and, especially, promote web-based data collection instead of traditional physical lab-based whenever possible.

Methods and tools

In my experimental research, I use behavioural methods (mostly looking at the reaction times of button presses) as well as EEG (electroencephalography); and conduct both lab-based and web-based studies. I use the following tools that I absolutely recommend:

  • MNE Python – an open-source software package for processing EEG and MEG data.
  • JsPsych – JavaScript library for creating and running web experiments.
  • FieldTrip – an open-source MATLAB toolbox for EEG and MEG data analysis.
  • R in combination with RStudio and R Markdown.