Brain, Cognition and Behaviour research strand at the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL)

Language and awake surgery

With a team of neurosurgeons, speech and language therapists and neuropsychologists at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol, Dr Anna Piasecki, Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan and PhD student, Hazira Mumtaz, are developing linguistic tools for awake craniotomy. This project aims to improve brain tumour patients’ post-op quality of life.

Language and cognition

Researchers in the Centre investigate how language is processed and how speakers’ linguistic knowledge (e.g., the presence vs. absence of grammatical structures; metaphor and lexemes used) impacts their thought (e.g., memory, perception, categorization, reasoning) and mental states (e.g., happiness).

Our current Language and Cognition projects:

The effect of expression of time on expected levels of tiredness and stress

Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan is interested if cross-linguistic differences in the referral to time affect people’s perception of tiredness and stress levels. She is collaborating on a project with Dr Kait Clark (UWE Bristol, Psychology) and Ms Laura Welsh (postgraduate student) comparing Finnish and English speakers.

The impact of linguistic gender marking on gender saliance

With Dr Anna Piasecki and a team of colleagues from Education and Psychology at UWE Bristol, Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan is leading a project funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Challenge Fund into the effect of gender marking on (pro)nouns on perceptions and recall of gender information from photos seen.

The impact of linguistic number-marking on the recall of number information

Dr Minna Kirjavainen-MorganDr Anna Piasecki, Professor Yuriko Kite (Kansai University, Japan) and Dr Kateryna Krykoniuk (Cardiff University) are investigating if cross-linguistic differences in linguistic number marking affect mono and bilingual speakers’ number recall.

The effect of linguistic ambiguity on listener's stress levels

With Ms Andra-Carina Cretu (MSci student), Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan and Dr Kait Clark (UWE Psychology) are investigating if the way information is expressed in employment contexts (e.g. manager-employee) impacts people’s stress levels.

The impact of pronoun use in sustainability-focused decision-making contexts

This project attempts to understand the impact internal language structure has on decision-making in sustainable development contexts. Dr Grant Howie is interested in the possibility of how the structure of our language in our brain might influence how successful we are in sustainability and climate action. It considers the mandatory use of pronouns in the English language and whether this makes speakers of it more egocentric in comparison to languages which permit pronoun drop (e.g., Spanish, Finnish, Japanese).

Child language development

Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan is interested in how children learn their native language. She’s currently running a study with Dr Maija Surakka (Tampere University, Finland) on her Kirjavainen-MPI Finnish child corpus investigating to what extent temporal terms in child language refer to time, and with Dr Alexandre Nikolaev (University of the Eastern Finland) conducting an analysis of filled pause use in English children’s language.

Hesitations, pausing and discourse markers

Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan and Dr Kate Beeching, have explored the phenomenon of filled pauses (e.g. um, uh) and discourse markers (e.g., actually) in both adult and child language. By conducting experiments and carrying out analyses on real-language use, their research aims to inform us as to what kinds of linguistic (or non-linguistic) items filled pauses are and how they are processed. Kirjavainen-Morgan is currently working on a corpus analysis investigating filled pause use in Finnish adult interaction.

Bi- and multilingualism

Dr Anna Piasecki carries out research on the role which speaking more than one language plays in how language is accessed, processed and stored in the mind. These are interests which are shared by Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan. Piasecki has carried out projects on the influence which writing and sound systems have in bilingual learning.

Dr Jeanette Sakel’s work on language contact – i.e. how languages influence one another in multilingual societies – is widely cited and sheds light on the sorts of borrowings which can occur between languages.

Bristol Centre for Linguistics

The Bristol Centre for Linguistics creates a platform for knowledge exchange on linguistics as well as highlights the relevance of language research to the public.


Research centres and groups at UWE Bristol

Find out more about research in each college and school at UWE Bristol.

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