LiLa – an arena for novel research
The Department of the Swedish Language opened Linnaeus University Language Processing Lab (LiLa Lab) in 2019 as an accessible infrastructure where students and researchers can perform instrumental research focused on language processing. LiLa provides opportunities for a research-related education and to develop new research areas. Our focus is to engage students in new types of empirical research and initiate new research collaborations at Linnaeus University.
Below, please find more information about LiLa’s equipment and how it can be used. We also present planned workshops and other opportunities to learn how to handle the equipment and how to analyze data that can be collected with the equipment. You'll also learn how to proceed if you would like to develop a project using LiLa, which projects have used or are using LiLa right now, and much more.
Workshops and education
Workshops and education are planned upon requests and needs. That is, if you are interested in knowing more about, for example, how to use some of LiLa's equipment, set up experiments, or analyze data, please contact Annika Andersson or Gilbert Ambrazaitis so that a workshop pertaining to your needs is developed and other interested parties can be invited.
During the spring semester 2021, we gave the course Psycholinguistics: From EEG to ERP – methodology and theory (course description in Swedish, PDF file), 7,5 credits, 50 % study pace, for doctoral students and other researchers. The course is suitable for those who want to set up an own study using ERP and those who want to have a better understanding of articles describing results from ERP studies. Every other lecture features theory and every other laborations, where you practice how to use the equipment and handle EEG data.
Contact Annika Andersson to learn more or to register your interest in taking the course. Note that the course only runs those semesters when there is a sufficiently large interest.
LiLa Lab is situated on the basement floor in building H in Växjö; entrance Universitetsplatsen 1. The lab features various advanced equipment for research focused on language processing.
EEG and ERP
Thanks to funding from the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation for the Peanut project, the LiLa lab has, since summer 2020, a new mobile EEG system (Brain Product's actiCAP). Using EEG (electroencephalography), we can now measure the brain's processing of an auditory or visually presented language online, millisecond by millisecond.
With EEG, we can record brain oscillations or brain activity at a specific event (event-related potential, ERP). Since the recording does not require a response, we can compare groups that typically differ in how well they perform in conventional language tests (for example, adults and children, first- and second-language speakers, and so on).
The figure shows differences in how the brain processes the Swedish word order (V2) depending on the language background (Swedish, German, or English native speaker). Participants in the study read correctly formed V2 sentences Idag på morgonen ringde hon till sin pappa lit. ‘Today in the morning called she her father’ or incorrectly formed sentences with the verb following the subject *Idag på eftermiddagen han sov i gräset lit. ‘Today in the afternoon he slept in the grass’. While German and English learners of Swedish did not differ on the language tests, we were able to demonstrate the importance of the first language for processing a second language (Andersson, Sayehli, & Gullberg, 2019).
Our mobile eye-tracker, Tobii Pro Spectrum, can be used in interdisciplinary studies that can utilize information about participants' eye movements or focus – over a text, image or web page. The movement of the eyes is taken as an indication of the individual's focus. The visual world paradigm is a study design that is particularly suitable for studying language processing. Here, auditory and visual stimuli are presented together. This allows conclusions about the participants' processing and understanding of, for example, word meanings, negatives and emphasis patterns.
An example of the paradigm and how eye movements can be interpreted: in this study, the participant listened to sentences that emphasized the color or the object in the statements, for example where is the yellow boat? The child had six objects in different colors to look at. The child in the example looked most closely at the boats when they were given the following two questions in succession: Where is the green boat? And where is the yellow boat? The fact that the child did not look at the yellow cap, which was one of the six objects, indicated that the child had interpreted the emphasis on yellow correctly.
Reaction time (RT)
With a response box, we can measure the reaction time for processing different phenomena. As an example, we can present different words in a second language that belong to or does not belong to a semantic category (for example, animals). Participants press a green or red button depending on whether the word presented is an animal or not. By allowing a few words to have common phonology with first-language words that either are or are not animals, we can use RT to show whether both languages are activated in a second-language task. This is just one example to show how a simple RT study can answer big questions.
Auditory and visual recordings
The lab provides a selection of microphones, mobile audio recording equipment, and camcorders for a variety of purposes. These include recordings of (group) conversations as well as recordings of individual speakers and dialogues with good channel separation, to enable acoustic-phonetic analysis.
Project: Language processing: domain general or domain specific? ERP studies of verbal and visual language processing in children with typical and atypical language development By comparing processing…
Project: Learning to focus – How Stockholm and Skåne Swedish children produce and comprehend contrastive intonation Speakers make use of speech melody or intonation in order to highlight the most…
Are you interested in setting up a project in LiLa Lab?
Using the link below, you can enter information about the project you want to perform, such as type of activity, time period and the desired equipment. Fill in the information and click Submit, and we will contact you later on.
Are you interested in participating in a study in LiLa Lab?
We constantly look for participants for the experiments and studies that are carried out in LiLa Lab. Using the link below, you can register your interest and we will contact you when your background fits into a study that is to be carried out.
Annika Andersson is acting director of LiLa Lab.
- Annika Andersson Associate professor
- +46 470-76 74 34
- Christian Waldmann Associate Professor
- +46 470-70 89 43
- Claes Ohlsson Associate professor
- +46 470-76 78 80
- Federica Raschellà Doctoral student
- Gilbert Ambrazaitis Associate Professor
- +46 480-44 67 25
- +46 72-594 95 56
- Hanna Lindfors Doctoral student
- +46 470-70 84 97
The story behind LiLa
When Annika Andersson and Gilbert Ambrazaitis joined Linnaeus University in 2017, they conducted their research at Lund University's Humanist Laboratory. They began to work to ensure that they could carry out their research on site at Linnaeus University instead. Both have their homes in Lund, but were convinced that research should be conducted on site in Växjö to develop the research conducted at the university. Equally important was being able to include students in a research of language processing that had not been conducted at the university until then. The then head of the Department of Swedish, Maria Lindgren, found a suitable room for LiLa while Annika, supported by Gilbert and Fredrik Heinat (Department of Languages), applied for equipment for LiLa.
The premises were found and reaction time equipment already available at the Department of Swedish was set up. The next head of the department, Jon Helgason, together with the deputy head Daniel Bergman decided to support LiLa with eye movement measurement equipment and audio and video recording equipment, which began to be used as early as fall 2019. The equipment was also partly financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) through the project Learning to focus: How Stockholm and Skåne Swedish children produce and comprehend contrastive intonation (Blik S St).
The following year, we received funding from the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation (MAW) to carry out the project Language processing: domain general or domain specific? ERP studies of verbal and visual language processing in children with typical and atypical language development (Peanut), which also included funding for EEG equipment for LiLa. This equipment will be of great importance to the development of new language processing studies at Linnaeus University, and we are very grateful to MAW for supporting it through this project.