Grammar & Cognition Research Group
GraC, the Grammar Cognition lab, seeks to model linguistic diversity, whether neurotypical or clinical. It focuses on links between language and forms of cognition other than language, by studying patterns of language deviance in disorders that affect language along with other aspects of cognition. Language pathologies have long informed linguistic theory, especially in the cases of post-stroke aphasia and specific language impairment. GraC seeks to expand the range of language dysfunction considered in clinical linguistics, by studying diverse language patterns seen across the autism spectrum, in schizophrenia, and in the different dementias. We aim for work in which influence between the language sciences and the clinic (and special schools) is bi-directional, and where academic research results translate into practical changes in the hands of doctors and teachers. We use a range of empirical methods, from behavioural linguistic analysis and experiments using eye-tracking, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electroencephalography (EEG). GraC is keen to embed its empirical and experimental work in theoretical linguistics and to construct a new typology of clinical linguistic diversity and how it is linked to non-linguistic cognitive dysfunction. Our heuristic is a foundational framework known as 'un-Cartesian' linguistics. This framework explores whether the human-specific thought process is inherently linked to our language capacity. To whatever extent this would prove to be so, language would not merely be a means of communication but an instrument of thought, which in fact configures our mental life and could thus be key to understanding mental disorders.