Conference Theory of mind and language: experimental data and clinical applications

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Theory of mind is the ability to form representations of other people’s mental states and to use these representations to understand, predict and judge their statements and behaviours (Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985; Premack & Woodruff, 1978). Study of this ability has become a major focus for cognitive sciences in the last twenty years, showing that this ability plays a fundamental role for social interactions. While loads of researches (particularly in pathology and in development) give support to a relationship between theory of mind and language, the role of this cognitive ability in meaning construction is still under debate.

Is theory of mind conveyed by language (e.g. reference marker, prosody, gestures) during social interaction? Does theory of mind play a role in meaning construction? Do speakers take the perspective of the listener to explain or understand meaning? If it is the case, do linguistic forms such as reference markers or intonation contours signal how the speaker takes the listener’s perspective into account? And how do the listeners use this linguistic information to interpret the speaker’s mental states?

The aim of this conference will be to present and discuss experimental data dealing with the relationship between theory of mind and language in different population (e.g. development, healthy people, pathology). Our main goal will be to bring together researchers from different backgrounds (cognitive sciences, experimental psychology, neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, phonetics/phonology, and pragmatics) with a view to improve our understanding of how language can convey theory of mind during social interactions. 

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