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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre

A research and networking event for researchers in the language sciences at the University of Cambridge

Language sciences and health

This annual meeting of minds brings the Cambridge Language Sciences research community together for an afternoon of talks and poster presentations, and provides an opportunity for informal networking. The theme of this year's Symposium is the link between research in language sciences and health, encompassing work in developmental psychology and the application of Natural Language Processing to public health data and to support humanitarian work. 





13.00-13.30   Registration; coffee

13.30- 14.30  Language acquisition, neural entrainment, phonology and dyslexia Prof. Usha Goswami (Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience, Centre for Neuroscience and Education, University of Cambridge)

Recent insights from auditory neuroscience provide a new perspective on how the brain encodes speech. Using these recent insights, I will provide an overview of key factors underpinning individual differences in children’s development of language and phonology, providing a context for exploring atypical linguistic development. 

14.30-15.00  Health crises, digital media and community voices: utilising interactive radio for rapid social research to improve outbreak preparedness and response Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes, Senior Advisor - Research & Innovation, Africa's Voices Foundation

In 2017 Somalia experienced the worst cholera outbreak in five years, with over 79,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths mainly among children under five years. This talk will focus on the methodology that Africa’s Voices Foundation employed to gather, label and analyse SMS data as a tool for understanding cholera risk and preparedness among communities in the South Central Zone of Somalia.

15.00-15.30   Poster slam 1 minute talks by the poster presenters

15.30-16.30   Poster exhibition; refreshments

16.30-17.00   Using NLP and heterogenous user generated content to sense mental well-being Dr Maria Liakata (Dept. of Computer Science, University of Warwick) 

So far the majority of work in NLP on mental health prediction, even when using longitudinal social media data, involves distinguishing individuals with a condition from controls rather than assessing individuals’ mental health at different points in time. Some work in the area of mobile computing has used sensor information to make longitudinal predictions but this hasn't considered any language content. I will present our work on integrating both linguistic data and heterogeneous and asynchronous mobile phone usage data for monitoring mental health over time. I will also discuss the challenges such work entails when evaluated in a challenging scenario for real world deployment

17.00-17.30 The effect of early language and communication environment on social outcomes for primary school aged children with language difficulties Dr Jenny Gibson, Faculty of Education

Children who have difficulties in linguistic development that persist into middle childhood are at higher risk of later social problems, in comparison to their typically developing peers. In this talk I will present findings from a study based on data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The study aimed to explore the extent to which a child’s early communicative environment may influence later social adjustment, and, whether the pathways for such influences were different for children with and children without language difficulties. I report an analysis using a subset of ALSPAC participants who completed direct assessments of linguistic/psycholinguistic abilities in middle childhood and will discuss these findings with reference to support and education strategies for children at risk of language difficulties.

17.30-18.30   Stability and change in child language Prof. Courtenay Norbury (Professor of Developmental Language & Communication Disorders, Literacy Language and Communication Lab, UCL) 

Longitudinal studies of child language development and disorder demonstrate both steady language growth yet remarkable stability in the rank order of language competencies, at least from about the age of 4. The extent to which growth and stability are influenced by other aspects of child development is a focus of the current study. In this talk I will present data from the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES), a population study of language change and stability from school entry.

Award of the poster prize, offered by Cambridge University Press; Closing remarks

18.40-19.45   Drinks reception offered with the generous support of Cambridge University Press

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Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 13:15 to 19:30
Contact name: 
Jane Walsh
Contact email: 
Event location: 
Cripps Court, Magdalene College

What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.