Research

We work on several research projects. Here is a brief description of them:

Probability and early logical understanding
Luca Bonatti, Nicoló Cesana-Arlotti. Erno Teglas, Alexandra Ibañez-Lillo (with Albert Costa)
Fact: Infants seem to have an intuitive sense of statistics and probability.
Questions: Where does this sense come from? Can it derive from an intuitive sense of possibility? If so, how are modal situations represented in the mind? What are the logical primitives in an infant mind? And how are infants’ abilities at understanding probabilities related to their numerical abilities?
Comparative Cognition
Daniela Martinez, Juan M. Toro
Fact: We share with other animals several aspects of our cognitive structure.
Questions: Are perceptual and cognitive constraints described in humans also present in other animals? Which mechanisms are shared across species? How does having a language make us process some stimuli differently from other species that do not have a language?
Cortical Representation of Elementary Logical Reasoning
Luca Bonatti; External collaborators: Carlo Reverberi
Fact: People naturally can draw correct logical consequences from very simple deductive premises, but the brain networks supporting this ability are still largely unknown.
Questions: What areas are active during elementary deductive reasoning? What do these activation tell us with respect to the current theories of deduction, and to the origin of biases and errors in reasoning?
Attentional Constraints on Structure Extraction
Juan M. Toro (with Scott Sinnett and Salvador Soto-Faraco)
Fact: There are patterns you may learn, or not, when you are not paying attention.
Questions: Is the extraction of distributional and structural regularities resilient to attentional demands? How processing resources are directed towards relevant information? Can we tell two distinct processes apart by the way they are affected by a distracting task?
Mechanisms of Belief Fixation
Alveno Vitale, Luca Bonatti
Fact: Infants are very good and fast learners.
Background: Current theories, mainly developed by the great psychologists Gergely and Csibra, hold that a pedagogical relation between the learner and the “teacher” is fundamental to successful learning.
Questions: On the basis of what mechanisms is pedagogical learning possible? Are the processes of belief fixations involved in pedagogical learning also active in adults, under certain conditions?
Early Language Learning and the Onset of Morphosyntax
Luca Bonatti, Somebody please can help?
Fact: Infants are little creatures with little memory, but the lexicon they have to learn is big big big.
Questions: How do they handle this problem? One possibility is that, as soon as they can, they use rules to generate words, rather than store words one by one. So when does morphosyntactic analysis begins and how does it work?
Bilingualism and Categorization
Yin Yu, Luca Bonatti (With Núria Sebastian-Galles)
Fact: Bilingual infants are better than monolingual infants in learning complex rules.
Questions: Where does this advantage come from? Is it a general advantage given by better categorization abilities? And if so, are infants' earliest categories shaped by the linguistic community in which they are immersed? Does the process of category learning differ across domains?
Phonological Representation in Bilingual infants
Gisela Pi Casaus, Luca Bonatti (With Núria Sebastian-Galles)
Fact: Bilinguals have to learn -- well -- two languages.
Questions: How do they keep their vocabularies separate at the beginning of vocabulary learning? Do they use phonological differences as filters for within-language word acquisition? And if so, what is the time course of bilinguals’ convergence onto onto the right phonological repertoires? And how does this process modify bilinguals’ perceptions of foreign contrasts?