18 December 2018- Jan P. De Ruiter: Seminar
Modeling the mystery of iconic gesture
When people produce spontaneous speech, they usually make hand movements that appear to be semantically related to the topic of their talk. These hand movements are called speech-accompanying gestures, or gesticulation, and they are very different than the hand movements of the sign language of the deaf. There are distinct types of speech-accompanying gestures, and the most intriguing type is the so-called iconic gesture. Iconic gestures are special because they do not have a conventionalized form-to-meaning mapping, like most of our communicative signals do. I will talk about a number of puzzles and controversies surrounding iconic gestures: What is their function? How are they generated? What is their relation to the simultaneously produced speech? And last but not least: how to incorporate them in cognitive models of communication?
Jan (J.P.) de Ruiter is a cognitive scientist whose primary research focus is on the cognitive foundations of human communication. After receiving his PhD from Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands), J.P. de Ruiter worked at the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Cologne (Germany), and at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistic in Nijmegen, where he coordinated an institute project on Multimodal Interaction. From 2009 to 2016 he was the Chair for Psycholinguistics at Bielefeld University (Germany). At present, J.P. de Ruiter is the Bridge Professor in the Cognitive Sciences at Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts), with a double appointment at the departments of Computer Science and Psychology.
J.P. de Ruiter works on human gesture, conversational turn-taking, multimodal communication, intention recognition, and the cognitive science of misunderstanding. He has published in linguistic, psycholinguistic, methodological, neurocognitive, and cognitive-psychological journals. His interests include conversation analysis, philosophy of science, artificial intelligence, and inferential statistics. He has initiated and/or been involved in several large-scale European and US projects in social robotics, focusing on collaborative interaction between humans and artificial systems.