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EEG and eye-tracking methods for the study of language (a.a. 2019/20)


Language comprehension is an extremely fast and efficient process that is achieved with almost no apparent effort, despite the variety of psychological mechanisms devoted to the analysis of the different levels of the linguistic input. Research carried out measuring language processing as it unfolds in time, such as EEG and Eye-tracking measures greatly contributed to describing how comprehension arises from the rapid interplay of syntactic, lexical and pragmatic information. 

A detailed introduction to both techniques, and the review of the most relevant measures used in psycholinguistics will be given (with reference to specific case studies, such as humor, idioms, and metaphors). A section of the course will bring students close to the best practices concerning data analysis and statistics, possibly with hands-on data sessions. In the last week each student will discuss a paper (from a set of selected ones on the basis of the students’ interests).

The aim of the course is to provide the students with a set of skills enabling them to comprehend and evaluate the quality of the research methods.



(5 March, 10-17)

6 h

Introduction to the EEG/ERP and Eye-tracking techniques: ERP components associated with language processing mechanisms (syntax, semantics and pragmatics) and Eye-tracking paradigms


(10 March, 9-16)

6 h

Applying online techniques to the study of (Figurative) Language processing


(12 March, 10-17)

6 h

Signal processing of EEG and Eye-movement data


(17 March, 9-16)

6 h

Statistical analysis


(19 March, 10-17)

6 h

Students seminar 1 - EEG


(24 March, 9-16)

6 h

Students seminar 2 - Eye-tracking


  • Friederici, A. D. (2011). The brain basis of language processing: from structure to function. Physiological reviews, 91(4), 1357-1392.
  • Kutas, M., & Federmeier, K. D. (2011). Thirty years and counting: finding meaning in the N400 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP). Annual review of ps ychology, 62, 621-647.
  • Hagoort, P., & van Berkum, J. (2007). Beyond the sentence given. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 362(1481), 801-811.
  • Lau, E. F., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. (2008). A cortical network for semantics:(de) constructing the N400. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 920.
  • Staub, A., & Rayner, K. (2007). Eye movements and on-line comprehension processes. The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics, 327, 342.


Credits: 4

Paolo Canal

Ricercatore junior in Glottologia e Linguistica


Tipologia corso : Tipo c

Periodo: Semestre II

Anno accademico: 2019-2020

Luogo : Aula 1-17

Durata : 36 ore