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Neurolinguistics with Adolfo Garcia

13 April 2018

I’m very excited to announce that in April, we will be hosting Adolfo Garcia who will be giving two talks and a workshop on topics related to neurolinguistics, including psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics.  These events are open to all students and staff at Cardiff University.

The description of each event is given below following the dates and locations.  I’ve also included his bio details at the end of this post.

Places are limited, so please register if you plan to attend by completing this short registration form:



Lecture: “Of meaning and body: Grounding semantics in sensorimotor brain systems” 

April 23 – 4-6pm

2.03 in John Percival


Workshop: “Language as experimental material: How to design neurolinguistic tasks”.

April 24 – 4-6pm

2.48 in John Percival


Lecture: “An Introduction to Relational Network Theory”.

April 25 – 9-11am

0.31 in John Percival



Of meaning and body: Grounding semantics in sensorimotor brain systems 

In our daily interactions and dealings with the environment, language is consubstantiated with our inner and outer bodily dynamics. Yet, most models of language seem oblivious to the ubiquitous synergies between verbal and motor processes. In this talk, I will present a model rooted in multidimensional neurocognitive evidence showing that motor and perceptual brain networks play a decisive role in early, automatic semantic processes. In particular, our understanding of linguistic expressions evoking bodily movements depends on reactivations of the same circuits that enable us to plan and execute such movements. This neurocognitive overlap affects myriad actions in our everyday life. For example, planning manual movements while typing on a keyboard is delayed when the word to be typed is a manual action verb (e.g., scrub) compared to non-manual action verbs (e.g., jump) and cognitive verbs (e.g., think). These and several other findings to be discussed have theoretical, clinical, and educational implications. First, they afford key insights to constrain and extend systemic-functional models. Second, they can lead to breakthroughs in the quest for early and preclinical markers of neurodegenerative diseases (especially, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease). Finally, they can inspire innovations for language teaching in naturalistic settings. All in all, a case will be made for the importance of conceiving language beyond strictly linguistic terms and forging fruitful links between linguistics and cognitive neuroscience.



Language as experimental material: How to design neurolinguistic tasks  

Among its myriad uses, language is subject to very peculiar manipulations in a most important context for its study: the experimental laboratory. The knowledge produced by psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and several other branches of experimental cognitive science crucially depends on the quality and robustness of the verbal materials that subjects must respond to. However, valid and reliable research typically requires presenting language in an atomistic, decontextualized fashion. Against this background, the present workshop aims to introduce the basics of linguistic stimulus design, covering topics such as (i) the tension between experimental control and ecological validity, (ii) the main types of variables to be contemplated, (iii) the resources available to collect relevant data, (iv) the challenges implied in the construction of different types of units (single words, sentences, multi-sentential texts), (v) the requisites derived by particular experimental paradigms, and (vi) the extent to which ensuing findings can illuminate outstanding problems in the language sciences. More generally, the workshop aims to open a forum of discussion on the role of linguists in this particular arena.



Lecture and book presentation An Introduction to Relational Network Theory 

In this presentation, I will offer a summary overview of Relational Network Theory (RNT), a neurocognitive model of language compatible with systemic-functional tenets. First, the evolution of RNT will be traced from the 1960s to the present, with emphasis on its systemic and stratificational origins. Second, the theory’s main notational devices will be described and shown to account for the main types of relations found in a linguistic network. Third, reference will be made to a collection of case studies showing descriptive applications of RNT, covering varied linguistic phenomena in different languages (phonological patterns in Russian, morphological systems in Polish and Spanish, pronouns and nouns in English discourse, speech errors in English and Polish). To conclude, the strengths and limitations of the theory will be discussed against the backdrop of contemporary systemic-functional linguistics.

Book reference García, A. M., Sullivan, W. J. & Tsiang, S. (2017). An Introduction to Relational Network Theory: History, Principles, and Descriptive Applications (preface by M. A. K. Halliday). London: Equinox. 224 pages. ISBN: 978-1-78179-260-5. Online:




Biodata – Dr. Adolfo M. García

Dr. Adolfo M. García specializes in the neuroscience of language. He is the Scientific Director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience, at the Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (Argentina). He is also Assistant Researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Argentina); Adjunct Professor of Neurolinguistics at the Faculty Education of the National University of Cuyo (Argentina); member of the TREC (Translation, Research, Empiricism, Cognition) Network, based on the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain); and external collaborator for the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at La Laguna University (Spain). He has also served as associate editor for the Journal of World Languages, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice; and as a reviewer for dozens of leading journals in neuroscience, neurolinguistics, and linguistics.

Dr. García has received training in neurolinguistics at New York University and Rice University (USA), and he has disseminated his work in multiple scientific and academic events worldwide. As a professor, he has taught undergraduate, graduate, and professional development courses in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, USA, Germany, and China. From 2011 through 2014 he served as Adjunct Professor of Translation Studies at the National University of Córdoba (Argentina). He has also been a Visiting Professor at Macquarie University (Australia), Universidad del Valle (Colombia), Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia), Pontifica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile), Johannes Gutenberg University (Germany), and Macau University (China). He has supervised numerous research fellows and acted as thesis advisor to undergraduate, masters’, and Ph.D. students in Argentina and Europe. He also serves as researcher in international projects hosted by Latin American and European institutions, and as a research consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank. In addition, he regularly reviews research projects for national agencies in several countries.

He has more than 90 publications, including books, chapters and articles in leading journals, such asNature Human BehaviorBrainNeuroscience and Biobehavioral ReviewsPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal SocietyScientific Reports, Journal of Medical GenetisCortexCognitionBrain and Language, andJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society. His books include Traductología y neurocognición(National University of Córdoba, 2012); Lenguaje, cognición y cerebro (Argentine Linguistics Society, 2012);Qué son las neurociencias, co-authored by Agustín Ibáñez (Paidós, 2015); Mente bilingüe (Comunicarte, 2016);An Introduction to Relational Network Theory, co-authored by William Sullivan and Sarah Tsiang (Equinox, 2017); Neuroscience and Social Science: The Missing Link, co-edited by Agustín Ibáñez and Lucas Sedeño (Springer, New York, 2018); and Contextual Cognition, co-authored by Agustín Ibáñez (Springer, Heidelberg, 2018).

Dr. García has organized several scientific meetings with worldwide impact, including the first edition of the international conference series “Translation, interpreting, and cognition”. He also works actively in the public dissemination of science. A highlight in this area is his participation in the contents and design team ofCerebreando, a public, nation-wide exhibition promoting the social appropriation of neuroscientific knowledge in Argentina.

Also, he has formulated the Hand-Action-Network Dynamic Language Embodiment (HANDLE) model, a theoretical proposal which accounts for neurocognitive synergies during joint processing of language and manual movements.

In 2013 he received the Most Outstanding Paper Award from the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States. That same year he was distinguished by the Ibero-American Neuroeducation Society. In 2015, he was awarded the Young Investigator Prize, granted by the Argentine Association of Behavioral Science. In 2017, he was proclaimed Distinguished Citizen of Balcarce in the field of science, and he obtained an award at the MTC 2017 Neurodegenerative Disease Research Contest, hosted by the Argentina Ataxia Association and the Lorena Scarafiocca Foundation for Huntington’s disease. That same year, his work on language as an early marker of Parkinson’s diseases was chosen among the top-10 scientific breakthroughs in Argentina.