Valentina Bambini

Valentina Bambini
University School for Advanced Studies IUSS Pavia

PhD
Psycho/Neurolinguist working on Experimental Pragmatics, Pragmatic Language Disorder, metaphor processing.

About

86
Publications
56,569
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Introduction
Valentina Bambini's research interests are in the field of neurolinguistics, experimental pragmatics, clinical pragmatics and neuropragmatics, and are organized in two main areas. The first revolves around the comprehension of metaphors and other implicit meanings in the brain. The second is pragmatic language disorder in adults with psychiatric or neurological diseases. Recently, she has started to investigate pragmatics in development and aging.

Publications

Publications (86)
Article
Whether Theory of Mind (ToM) contributes to metaphor understanding has been largely investigated in language acquisition and decay. Yet we know very little about the role of ToM in real-time processing of metaphors in neurotypical adults. Here, we tested the relationship between ToM and metaphor through Event Related Potentials (ERPs) by capitalizi...
Article
Pragmatics lies at the point where language meets the social world and encompasses both the linguistic and the social dimensions of communication. However, the relationship between pragmatic abilities, other language skills, and socio-cognitive aspects such as mentalizing is still a matter of wide debate. This study sets out to investigate the stat...
Article
Although metaphors are essential tools in everyday communication and educational settings, the literature lacks evidence of effective training tools to promote metaphor comprehension in typical development. Grounding in theoretical pragmatics, we developed a novel metaphor comprehension training (MetaCom) for school-age children that focuses on inf...
Article
Introduction: Language and communication disruptions in schizophrenia are at the center of a large body of investigation. Yet, the remediation of such disruptions is still in its infancy. Here we targeted what is known to be one of the most damaged language domains in schizophrenia, namely pragmatics, by conducting a pragmatics-centered interventio...
Preprint
Pragmatics is the ability to integrate language in context and to communicateeffectively. This skill is essential in many aspects of communication in daily life, both incomprehension and in production, to understand the speaker’s intended meaning andto convey a message adequately. Recent studies showed that pragmatics may beimpaired in Multiple Scl...
Preprint
Full-text available
Book chapter included in the volume "A Linguistic Approach to the Study of Dyslexia", edited by G. Cappelli & S. Noccetti and submitted to Multilingual Matters. The chapter presents an overview of research on pragmatic efficiency and dyslexia in children and adults.
Article
Full-text available
When we speak, we often say things that are di erent from what we actually mean. For example, at a ballet, we might say that the dancers are butterflies. Dancers are not really butterflies, but this statement is not a lie; it is a metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech quite common in our everyday language and in books. In this article, we expl...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Language disorders are a core symptom of schizophrenia. Currently, computational approaches, which provide possibly quick and fine-grained quantitative linguistic analyses, represent a promising tool for research on language disturbances, with potential clinical impact. Previous studies using automated methods for linguistic analysis have mainly fo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Chapter to be included in Grimaldi, M., Y. Shtyrov & E. Brattico, (eds.), "Language Electrified. Techniques, Methods, Applications, and Future Perspectives in the Neurophysiological Investigation of Language", Springer. It reviews EEG studies in the pragmatic domain, focusing on non-literal language, discourse and conversation.
Article
One of the most debated topics in figurative language studies is whether the access to non-literal meanings is direct or indirect. Although models that argue for longer processing times for figurative compared to literal meanings have been largely criticized, figurative language is often associated with increased cognitive work. We investigated whe...
Article
Full-text available
Metaphor understanding is a pragmatic inferential skill that serves a social function in adulthood. The present longitudinal study was designed to investigate the existence and the direction of the associations between metaphor understanding and peer relationships in children. One-hundred twenty-six typically developing 9-year-old children were tes...
Article
Grammatical gender processing is a classic topic in the neurolinguistic literature. However, most of the studies consider major standard languages, such as English, Dutch, Spanish or Italian. This is a limitation, since these languages display relatively simple systems that are fairly stable and do not allow to address language variation and change...
Article
The role of executive functions in supporting the pragmatics of communication has been extensively examined in clinical populations, but is still under-explored in healthy aging. In this study we addressed the role of executive skills, including inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, in older adults’ communicative-pragmatic abilitie...
Article
We often see an upsurge of humor inspired by tragic circumstances: this happened also during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak. However, little is known about the emotional response to tragedy-triggered humor, let alone Covid-19 humor. With a large-scale survey completed during the early stages of Italy's lockdown, we studied the app...
Article
Objective: Pragmatics refers to the capacity to understand the speaker’s meaning and thus to appropriately engage in a conversation. This study aims at establishing the role of communicative-pragmatic abilities in functioning, defined as a set of daily activities, in schizophrenia. This would contribute to enrich current models of the neurocognitiv...
Article
Among all aspects of the linguistic and communicative competence, pragmatics seems especially vulnerable in aging, due also to cognitive decline. However, pragmatics has never been considered as an intervention target in healthy aging. Here we tested the effects of a novel training program to improve pragmatics (PragmaCom) in older adults, compared...
Article
We still know very little about the longitudinal relationships between Theory of Mind (ToM) and metaphor understanding in typically developing children. We examined this issue by using a short-term longitudinal design, and by distinguishing between metaphor accuracy (the ability to understand metaphors) and specificity of mental interpretation (the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Chapter to be included in "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Romance Linguistics", Eds. Michele Loporcaro & Francesco Gardani, Oxford University Press, 2020. It reviews neurolinguistic research conducted on Romance languages and discusses how the literature on this language family has advanced our understanding of the neural correlates of language.
Article
Background: Difficulties in the pragmatic aspects of language are considered a hallmark of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). However, this claim is mostly based on assessments of discourse production, neglecting another relevant pragmatic aspect, namely the comprehension of figurative expressions such as idioms, metaphors, and proverbs. Accounts develo...
Article
Background Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was traditionally described as a disease restricted to the motor system. However, recent findings suggested that it also affects cognition, especially executive functions, social cognition, language and pragmatics. A relevant issue in current research is thus the description of the cognitive phenotype...
Article
Full-text available
This work focuses on a particular case of negative sentences, the Surprise Negation sentences (SNEGs). SNEGs belong to the class of expletive negation sentences, i.e., they are affirmative in meaning but involve a clausal negation. A clear example is offered by Italian: ‘Enonmi è scesa dal treno Maria?!’ (let. ‘and not CLITIC.to_me is got off-the t...
Article
Full-text available
Background A pragmatic disruption is observed in several clinical conditions and especially in schizophrenia. It is estimated that over 75% of patients affected by schizophrenia present a pervasive and wide impairment of pragmatic abilities, encompassing both comprehension and production abilities, thus confirming the hypothesis of a wide Pragmatic...
Preprint
In tragic circumstances, it is not uncommon to see an upsurge in the generation of disaster jokes, which humorously depict the macabre aspects of ongoing crises. Many of such jokes appeared also at the time of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, often becoming viral. However, little is known about the emotional response to disaster jo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Chapter to be included in the volume Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise, Eds. Ellen Fridland and Carlotta Pavese, Springer 2020.
Preprint
Full-text available
Chapter to be included in the volume Pragmatic Language Disorders: Complex and Underserved Populations, Ed. Louise Cummings, Springer, 2020. It reviews findings that have contributed to our understanding of pragmatic impairment in ALS.
Article
Concretism is a well-known feature of schizophrenia, tracing back to the early descriptions of the disease and commonly associated with the literal interpretation of figurative expressions such as proverbs, metaphors, and idioms. However, figurative expressions are not all alike in terms of linguistic and pragmatic processes. Determining if some fi...
Article
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience difficulty in comprehending metaphors compared to individuals with typical development (TD). However, there is a large variation in the results across studies, possibly related to the properties of the metaphor tasks. This preregistered systematic review and meta-analysis (a) explored...
Poster
Introduction. Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a chronic disabling mental disorder affecting 24 million people worldwide and causing a high burden of suffering. The deficit of pragmatic abilities is a significant feature of SCZ, affecting around 70% of patients, and it is a main determinant of functional disability, undermining patients’ social well-being an...
Article
Full-text available
It is known that patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) may show deficits in several areas of cognition, including speech and language abilities. One domain of particular interest is pragmatics, which refers to the capacity of using language in context for a successful communication. Several studies showed that some specific aspects of pragmatics –...
Article
Full-text available
Jokes understanding is an important part of people's social life, especially in aging. However, little is known about older adults' humor understanding and the role of the cognitive skills underpinning social communication, mainly pragmatics and theory of mind (ToM). To fill this gap, we created the Phonological and Mental Jokes (PMJ) task, a fine-...
Article
We investigated the association between individual differences in metaphor understanding and Theory of Mind (ToM) in typically developing children. We distinguished between two types of metaphors and created a Physical and Mental Metaphors task, echoing a similar distinction for ToM. Nine-year-olds scored lower than older age-groups in ToM as well...
Article
We studied the electrophysiological correlates of verbal humor comprehension by comparing Event Related Potentials (ERPs) and time-frequency representations recorded while 50 participants read humorous and nonhumorous passages. Using linear mixed models on single trials we showed that humorous target words elicited a larger Left Anterior Negativity...
Article
Several theoretical proposals tried to account for the meaning open-endedness of metaphors in literature and for the effortful process they trigger in readers. However, very few experiments have tackled the neurophysiological underpinnings of literary metaphor. Here we used Event-Related brain Potentials (ERPs) to explore the temporal dynamics of c...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Abstract published here: https://www.frontiersin.org/Community/AbstractDetails.aspx?ABS_DOI=10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2018.73.00016&eid=5689&sname=XPRAG_it_2018_-_Second_Experimental_Pragmatics_in_Italy_Conference
Article
Recent studies showed that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients might experience communicative deficits, specifically in pragmatics (i.e., the ability to integrate the context-dependent aspects of language). A crucial region for pragmatics is the temporo-parietal junction, in particular the so-called Geschwind's area (GA), which is involved in high-lev...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated the understanding of underinformative sentences like "Some elephants have trunks" by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The scalar term 'some' can be interpreted pragmatically, 'Not all elephants have trunks,' or logically, 'Some and possibly all elephants have trunks.' Literature indicates that adults with ASD sh...
Article
The study assessed the pragmatic skills of 19 well‐compensated Italian‐speaking young adults with dyslexia compared with controls. A comprehensive pragmatic assessment tool was employed, targeting production and comprehension (Assessment of Pragmatic Abilities and Cognitive Substrates [APACS]). Participants were also administered a series of standa...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Cognitive functions have been largely investigated in multiple sclerosis. Less attention has been paid to social communication abilities, despite their presumptive affect on quality of life. We run the first comprehensive assessment of pragmatic skills in multiple sclerosis, evaluating also the relationship between pragmatics and other...
Article
This study investigates the neurophysiological correlates of presupposition processing in conditions of satisfaction and accommodation, comparing two types of triggers: definite descriptions and change-of-state verbs. Results showed that, for both types, the accommodation of presuppositions is associated with a biphasic N400-P600 pattern at the pro...
Article
A wide range of studies on language assessment during awake brain surgery is nowadays available. Yet, a consensus on a standardized protocol for intraoperative language mapping is still lacking. More specifically, very limited information is offered about intraoperative assessment of a crucial component of language such as syntax. This review aims...
Article
This study investigates the processing of presupposition in discourse through the Event-Related Brain Potential technique. While theoretical linguistics has largely described the phenomenon of presupposition, there is little empirical investigation, mainly from behavioural studies. Here we employed the Event Related Potential (ERP) technique to sea...
Research
Full-text available
What are the properties of metaphor comprehension tools/tasks used in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research? Is there evidence of a relationship between the properties of metaphor comprehension assessment tools/tasks and performance on these tasks? Is metaphor comprehension deficit a common feature in ASD or is it partially related to the task pr...
Article
Background: There is an increasing need of assessing functional communication in daily activities and the impact on the quality of life from the perspective of the major protagonists of life situations following aphasia. Several instruments are available for English. One of the most recent is the Communication Outcome after Stroke scale for patient...
Article
Background Impairments in specific aspects of pragmatic competence, supporting the use of language in context, are largely documented in schizophrenia and might represent an indicator of poor outcome. Yet pragmatics is rarely included in clinical settings. This paper aims to promote a clinical consideration of pragmatics as a target of assessment a...
Article
Full-text available
A large body of electrophysiological literature showed that metaphor comprehension elicits two different event-related brain potential responses, namely the so-called N400 and P600 components. Yet most of these studies test metaphor in isolation while in natural conversation metaphors do not come out of the blue but embedded in linguistic and extra...
Article
Full-text available
The Assessment of Pragmatic Abilities and Cognitive Substrates (APACS) test is a new tool to evaluate pragmatic abilities in patients with acquired communicative deficits, ranging from schizophrenia to neurodegenerative diseases. APACS focuses on two main domains, namely discourse and non-literal language, combining traditional tasks with refined l...
Article
One of the major challenges in the study of language in schizophrenia is to identify specific levels of the linguistic structure that might be selectively impaired. While historically a main semantic deficit has been widely claimed, results are mixed, and there is evidence of syntactic impairment as well. This might be due to heterogeneity in mater...
Article
Full-text available
Language and communication dysfunctions have been widely reported among patients with schizophrenia and they may contribute to the social disability that characterizes the illness. Recent research pointed out different impairments at the pragmatic level, i.e., in the ability to match language and context. However, the evidence is stili sparse. We a...
Article
Full-text available
Theories on the processing of compound words differ on the role attributed to access to individual constituents. These theories are mostly based on empirical evidence obtained in experimental settings that could induce artificial effects normally not occurring in natural processing. In this study we investigated the processing of compounds as compa...
Article
Full-text available
Defining the specific role of the factors that affect metaphor processing is a fundamental step for fully understanding figurative language comprehension, either in discourse and conversation or in reading poems and novels. This study extends the currently available materials on everyday metaphorical expressions by providing the first dataset of me...
Article
In humans, brain connectivity implements a system for language and communication that spans from basic pre-linguistic social abilities shared with non-human primates to syntactic and pragmatic functions particular to our species. The arcuate fasciculus is a central connection in this architecture, linking regions devoted to formal aspects of langua...
Article
Full-text available
The role of literal meaning during the construction of meaning that goes beyond pure literal composition was investigated by combining cross-modal masked priming and ERPs. This experimental design was chosen to compare two conflicting theoretical positions on this topic. The indirect access account claims that literal aspects are processed first, a...
Article
Full-text available
Pragmatic and cognitive accounts of figurative language posit a difference between metaphor and metonymy in terms of underlying conceptual operations. Recently, other pragmatic uses of words have been accounted for in the Relevance Theory framework, such as approximation, described in terms of conceptual adjustment that varies in degree and directi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Chi proviene da una formazione filologico-linguistica e per la prima volta affronta le neuroscienze del linguaggio rimane colpito da un fatto eclatante: molte delle categorie riportate nei manuali hanno una realtà neurobiologica, ossia determinano diversi comportamenti del cervello umano. I verbi attivano porzioni della corteccia prossime alle zone...
Article
We combined for the first time electrophysiological measures and masked priming technique in sentential context, by setting up a cross-modal masked priming paradigm involving the auditory presentation of sentences. ERPs were time-locked to an auditorily presented word that was preceded by a repeated, related or unrelated pattern masked prime. We re...
Chapter
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