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Our goal is to understand the neurobiology of natural language use

At the LAB Lab, we suggest that language is supported by more than the sounds we hear and a few static brain regions. Our research begins with the proposal that, in order to understand the organization of language in the brain, we must include context, both internal – for example, our memories of past experiences hearing words, reading, sign language, and listening to music – and external – like the mouth movements, facial expressions, gestures and postures that accompany face-to-face communication.

Our work has led to the surprising suggestion that, far from simply being ‘non-verbal’ appendages to language, the brain actively hears context: The whole brain dynamically (re-)organizes to use whatever contextual information is available during natural language use to predict associated and forthcoming speech. The result of this mechanism is a more efficient brain and, without it, we would argue that speech perception and language comprehension can not occur.

Principal investigator

Jeremy Skipper

The Captain of the LAB Lab.