[Corpora-List] PhD or Postdoctoral position in experimental psycholinguistics, Saarland University

Vera Demberg v.demberg at gmx.de
Thu Jun 2 11:21:53 CEST 2016

*1 PhD or Postdoctoral position in experimental psycholinguistics, working with young vs. elderly adults *

Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany

The DFG-funded CRC Information Density and Linguistic Encoding (SFB 1102) is pleased to invite applications for a PhD or post-doctoral position within the project A4 "Language Comprehension and Cognitive Control Demands: Adapting Information Density to Changing Situations and Individual Users".

Project A4 investigates the hypothesis that the channel capacity of comprehenders – and thus their behaviour in response to high information density utterances – may be modulated by other immediate cognitive demands (such as driving), as well as individual differences. This will be accomplished by contrasting the comprehension of high and low density utterances in single and dual-task settings, as well as with different populations (older and younger adults). Experimental findings will further contribute to the development of a language generation model that adapts linguistic encodings appropriately based on both the immediate setting and cognitive capacity of the listener.

The goal of the experimental part of the project is to conduct psycholinguistic experiments that observe the effect of linguistic encodings on cognitive demands in single vs. dual task situations and on humans with differing cognitive abilities (younger vs. older adults, which will also be tested for their working memory capacity, verbal working memory, fluid intelligence etc). Information density will be manipulated by varying, in a range of experiments, the syntactic complexity of the materials, semantic predictability and discourse-level predictability.

The candidate will be responsible for conducting and programming the experimental procedures, for creating and piloting of the stimulus materials, as well as the intensive analysis of a novel pupillometric measure, the index of cognitive activity (ICA) and behavioral data for all dual-task studies with younger and older adults.

In the context of the SFB 1102, the role of this project is to investigate whether differences in channel capacity in the comprehender interact with the amount of information density in verbal stimuli. The uniform information density hypothesis predicts that information should be distributed uniformly across the utterance. This allows for a simultaneous optimisation of communicative efficiency and low rate of errors in decoding of the message if the rate of conveying information is close to channel capacity. The experiments conducted as part of this project will systematically vary both the uniformity of the information density of a message, as well as the channel capacity in the comprehender (by choosing subjects that differ in cognitive capacities, as well as by putting them in a dual tasking situation for which we can manipulate the difficulty of the secondary task).

*Requirements and application:* The candidate should have excellent expertise in experimental research and will be responsible for all of the studies using eye-tracking to be carried out in this project. Prior experience with eye-tracking methods is desirable. Good spoken and written command of English is required. Please send in your application including CV, transcripts and certificates, cover letter and statement of research interests, your MSc thesis for application at PhD level / your PhD thesis for application at Postdoc level, as well as the contact details of 3 references, by June 20th, 2016. The position will start on September 1st or October 1st (subject to negotiation), and run until end of June, 2018. There is a perspective for contract renewal after that, subject to continued funding of the collaborative research center. For appointment at the PhD student level, the PhD student will be guaranteed a renewal contract covering a total of three years. The appointments will be made on the German TV-L E13 scale (100% position for postdoctoral researcher; 65% for a PhD student. Support for travel to conferences is also available.

Saarland University is a leading centre for language research and offers a dynamic and stimulating environment. The Collaborative Research Center “Information Density and Linguistic Encoding” http://www.sfb1102.uni-saarland.de, which the open position is part of, supports a broad range of experimental, corpus-based, and cognitive modelling research activities, with over 40 staff. Saarland University also has large established groups working on psycholinguistics, computational linguistics (http://www.coli.uni-saarland.de)and cognition (http://www.uni-saarland.de/en/lehrstuhl/kray/res/research-topics.html). Researchers come from all over the world, and the primary research language is English.

*Contacts:* Applications referring to the project and position should be sent to Prof. Dr. Jutta Kray: j.kray at mx.uni-saarland.de and Dr. Vera Demberg vera at coli.uni-saarland.de

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