New publication at the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

“MultiPic: A standardized set of 750 drawings with norms for six European languages”, with Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, Davide Crepaldi, Antje S. Meyer, Boris NewEva Smolka and Marc Brysbaert

You can access pre-prints of this paper, as well as the entire picture database and all the norms for free via this link.


Numerous studies in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics have used pictures of objects as stimulus materials. Currently, authors engaged in cross-linguistic work or wishing to run parallel studies at multiple sites where different languages are spoken must rely on rather small sets of black-and-white or colored line drawings. These sets are increasingly experienced as being too limited. Therefore, we constructed a new set of 750 colored pictures of concrete concepts. This set, MultiPic, constitutes a new valuable tool for cognitive scientists investigating language, visual perception, memory and/or attention in monolingual or multilingual populations. Importantly, the MultiPic databank has been normed in six different European languages (British English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian and German).

Call for papers: Workshop on Bi-/Multilingualism and the Declining Brain

The Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) at the University of Reading, UK, is now inviting submissions for a day workshop titled:

“Bi-/Multilingualism and the Declining Brain: Current evidence and future directions”.

This event will look into contemporary suggestions about the neuroprotective effects of bi-/multilingualism against brain decline in clinical populations. It will bring together early career and established researchers in the fields of second language acquisition and cognitive/clinical neuroscience, and will comprise a state-of-the-art snapshot in the field, as well as discuss potential future directions for research.

This free event will take place on the 21st of June 2017 as part of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) 2017 week, and is co-funded by the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM), the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN), and the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA).

For more details, including the call for papers, please visit the workshop’s webpage here

CeLM Public Seminar: Learning British Sign Language as a second language in adulthood


CeLM Seminar Series

Learning British Sign Language as a second language in adulthood


by Chloë Marshall, University College London, Institute of Education


Date                     Wed 18th January 2017

Time                     15h00 – 16h30

Venue                  University of Reading, Whiteknights campus, Palmer-104


Many hearing adults choose to learn BSL as a second language for various reasons, including having a deaf child or wanting a career as an interpreter. However, almost nothing is known about how hearing adults learn to sign and whether learning a second language in a different modality from the first differs from learning a second spoken language. In this talk I present some initial research which investigates how adult learners of BSL use co-speech gesture as a substrate for transfer into sign, and what some of the challenges for learners of BSL are.

Announcement-Workshop with Noam Chomsky at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading


Workshop title:

Generative Linguistics in the 21st Century: the Evidence and the Rhetoric


Keynote speaker:

Prof. Noam Chomsky (MIT, USA)


Plenary speakers

Prof. Adriana Belleti (University of Siena, Italy)

Prof. Hagit Borer (Queen Mary, London, UK)

Prof. Stephen Crain (Macquaire University, Australia)

Prof. Tanja Kupisch (University of Konstanz & UiT the Arctic University of Norway)

Prof. Terje Lohndal (NTNU & UiT the Arctic University of Norway)

Prof. Luigi Rizzi (University of Siena, Italy & University of Geneva, Switzerland)

Prof. Ian Roberts (Cambridge University, UK)

Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Cambridge University, UK)

Prof. Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania, USA)


Prof. Jason Rothman (University of Reading)

Prof. Doug Saddy (University of Reading)


Where: University of Reading

When: May 11th, 2017

Hosts: The School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences (PCLS)

The fields of linguistics, cognitive science and psychology were forever changed starting in the 1950s on the coattails of the cognitive revolution against behaviourism.  Chomsky’s (1959) review of Skinner’s Verbal Behaviour is one of the key turning points in this endeavour from which what would become the dominant theory of modern linguistics was born. Generative linguistics, often referred to as Universal Grammar (UG), has maintained for six decades now that humans are born endowed with domain-specific linguistic knowledge.  In other words, the human brain comes pre-equipped with some type of innately determined blueprint to the general structure of language. Exactly what is universal and domain-specific with respect to linguistic knowledge has been the matter of debate and changing proposals over the past 6 decades, however, the core tenet of the generative program remains: at least some parts of language are provided by a genetic endowment. Although there is no question that parts of language are/can be learned in the truest sense, that input quantities and qualities matter, that social environment and interaction bring much to bear, a careful consideration of the preponderance of all evidence still “leaves little hope that [much of the structure of] language can be learned by an organism initially uniformed as to its general character, Chomsky, 1965: 58”.  The purpose of this workshop is to present and consider the evidence that still points in this direction, while at the same time sifting through and seriously considering the rhetoric that in recent years has rejected the general tenets of generative linguistics.  In doing so, we will examine the role of generative linguistics at present and consider where it will be going as the 21st century unfolds.  The workshop features a keynote talk by Professor Chomsky and plenaries from 9 other renowned linguists, working on formal linguistic theory and its application to acquisition and processing in children and adult learners. The day culminates in a moderated panel discussion with all our invited speakers, where audience members can ask questions.

If you are interested in attending this workshop, please email to register your interest by Friday 20th January 2017. Further details about the workshop, including how to book will be announced soon. 

New grant awarded: Language Learning RoundTable @ the 2017 EuroSLA meeting (University of Reading)


My colleague Ian Cunnings and I have just been awarded $9,892 by the journal Language Learning, which will allow us to host a RoundTable meeting on the 30th of August, right before the annual EuroSLA meeting at the University of Reading. The title of this half-day event will be Nativelike Attainment in Second Language Acquisition: How and When?“, and the programme of the talks will be as follows (final order of the presentations tbc):

1. Nativelike attainment in second language acquisition: How and when?
Introduction, Ian Cunnings and Christos Pliatsikas

2. Comparing on-line reaction time measures to off-line (metalinguistic) responses:
What can they tell us about grammatical knowledge and ultimate attainment in SLA?
Presentation by Leah Roberts

3. Nativelike and targetlike attainment: Two sides of the same coin?
Presentation by Holger Hopp

4. What can ERPs tell us about native-like processing in an L2?
Presentation by Darren Tanner

5. Structural and functional plasticity associated with learning in bilinguals
Presentation by Gigi Luk

6. Roundtable discussion
Chaired by Theo Marinis 

All invited talks will be 30 mins long, followed by 10 mins of questions by the audience.

We are excited with this meeting and we look forward to welcoming the EuroSLA delegates to our event!


Our lab is growing, plus further opportunities to join us!

Several undergraduate and postgraduate students have recently joined the Bilingualism in the Brain lab, in a variety of projects looking at bilingualism, cognition and the brain. We are all very happy about that! More details about the ongoing student projects in our lab can be found here.

We always welcome applications for people to join our lab, and interested parties should email me directly (c.pliatsikas[at] If you are interested in joining our lab for a PhD, see below for the PhD studentships offered by the University of Reading (and note the deadlines!), and contact me before applying. Remember that our lab contributes to, and benefits from, the expertise of both the Centre of Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) and the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN).

Apart from PhDs, do also feel free to contact me for smaller projects, including Erasmus+ visits etc.

PhD Opportunities at the University of Reading 2017/18

The School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading is inviting applicants for PhD studentships to work on topics within the Language, Development and Ageing Research Division. This research division has academics working in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, language development, bilingualism, and language disorders. We are looking for students interested in pursuing PhD projects along these broad themes. A number of PhD studentships are currently available, as described below.

The University of Reading is part of the ESRC funded SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership which will be awarding up to 35 studentships across the network for the 2017/18 academic year on a +3 (PhD) or 1+3 (1-year Masters + PhD) basis. These studentships are open to UK and EU residents on a fees + yearly stipend basis (for UK residents) or a fees only basis (for EU residents). Together with the Department of English Language & Applied Linguistics and the Institute of Education, we are looking for PhD students to put forward within the Linguistics, Psychology and Education pathways.

In addition to the SeNNS Doctoral Training Partnership, the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences also offers funding via the Magdalen Vernon Studentship. This year, one studentship will be available within the Language, Development and Ageing Research Division that covers fees at the UK/EU rate and a yearly stipend. International students are welcome to apply but must be able to pay the difference between UK/EU and international fees.

Finally, the University of Reading is also offering other studentships across the university. This year, 10 Anniversary PhD Scholarships are available that will cover fees and a yearly stipend for UK and EU residents. International students are again welcome to apply, but must be able to cover the difference between UK/EU and international fees. The university will also be offering 7 International Research Studentships this year that are open to international students on a fees + stipend basis (1 award) or a fees only basis (6 awards).

Interested applicants should contact to signal their intent to apply, and to gain further information regarding the application procedure and specific deadline for each award (which will all generally be in January/February 2017). Please also contact potential supervisors at Reading to discuss your proposal and application.