Origins of complex meaning

Humans use complex expressions to convey complex meanings, a trait that is unique to our species. I am interested in how complex meaning is best characterised, and how it came about.

Starting froms scratch: improvisation

One of the methodologies I use are laboratory experiments in which adult participants improvise to convey information. For example, in silent gesture experiments, participants describe events using only their hands and no speech. See my papers in Cognition, Cognitive Science, and another paper in Cognitive Science.

Evolving a communication system in the lab

I am interested in how the preferences that surface in improvisation change under the influence of cultural evolutionary mechanisms, like communicative interaction and iterated learning. See this Evolang paper and this paper in Cognition by my phd student Yasamin Motamedi.

Watching a language emerge

Being able to watch two individuals create a new language from scratch has changed my thinking in important ways. See this blog post on my experiences in the lab.