All of our talks, seminars and other events held by Health Sciences School are open to students, staff and the public with no need to book.

Seminar in Health Communication Sciences

Department of Ophthalmology & Orthoptics

No upcoming events.

Department of Human Communication Sciences 

Forthcoming events

Health Sciences School, Department of Human Communication Sciences

For further information, please contact Kate Chadwick

T: (0114) 2222076 / E:

Please note this seminar has been postponed.

Seminar: Why our brains crave languages

Speaker: Dr Thomas H Bak, University of Edinburgh 

Venue: TBC

Time: TBC

More details

Abstract: Language learning has been traditionally approached mainly from the perspective of applied linguistics or pedagogy. However, recent studies suggesting that knowledge and regular use of more than one language could slow down cognitive ageing, delay the onset of dementia and improve the cognitive outcome after stroke, open an entirely new perspective, linking multilingualism and language learning to evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, public health and wellbeing. 

Why should language learning have a positive effect on mind and brain? In my talk I will argue that multilingualism is the natural state of human mind and brain and that learning and speaking different language is one of the most natural and most effective ways of cognitive training. I will argue against the idea of a strict “critical period” and in favour of the concept of a “healthy linguistic diet”, a lifetime exposure and use of different languages with different levels of proficiency. 

Short Bio: Born and raised in Cracow, Poland, Dr Thomas H Bak studied medicine in Germany and Switzerland, obtaining his doctorate with a thesis on acute aphasias (language disorders caused by brain diseases) in Freiburg, Germany. He worked clinically in psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery in Bern, Berlin, Cambridge and Edinburgh, with a particular interest in the relationship between language, cognitive and motor functions. 2010-2018 he was president of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders (WFN RG ADCD). 

In recent years, Dr Bak’s work focused on the impact of language learning and multilingualism on cognitive functions across the lifespan and in brain diseases such as dementia and stroke. His studies include a wide range of populations, from students to elderly, from early childhood bilinguals to second languages learners, from Scotland, through India to Singapore.

The research seminar is a recent addition to the HCS programme and is being organised with the School of Education. The seminar is followed by a discussion led by Dr Ozge Ozturk, School of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield and Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty, Leeds Trinity University.

Past events

Thursday 5th March 2020

Seminar: Sentence-level frequency effects in language in aphasia

Speaker: Dr Elizabeth Anderson    

Venue: Elmfield, Lecture Theatre 1

Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm

More details

Abstract: This talk will review some assumptions of generative (Chomsky, 1980) and usage-based (Langacker, 1988) linguistic approaches to language, focussing on word and sentence-level constructions as pairings between linguistic form and communicative function (Goldberg, 2013). The talk will review published evidence that usage-based properties of language, such as frequency of occurrence, affect language processing in adults with aphasia. Three original studies that explore the effect of frequency on the relationship between verbs and sentence structure in older adults and adults with acquired aphasia will be explored in detail. The talk will conclude that the frequency of verbs as single words, as well as the frequency of verbs in particular syntactic constructions, affects language processing in adults with and without aphasia, subject to task demands.

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