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Alex Carstensen

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Erasmusplein 1
6525 HT Nijmegen
Room: E 4.29
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Alex Carstensen studies language and thought with a particular interest in how humans make the conceptual leap from limited and concrete perception to talk and think about abstract ideas. As a window onto this cognitive feat, she investigates how adults parcel meaning into words and categories across cultures, and how children learn these meanings. Her research focuses on the nature of category systems in language: how semantic structures vary, evolve, and influence thought. In a complementary line of work, she explores the role of language and culture in children’s developing conceptualizations of space and relations.

She is a postdoc at the Centre for Language Studies and works on the Evolution of Semantic Systems project, a research initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, studying linguistic structure and semantic change in the domains of space, color, body parts, and artifacts across Indo-European languages from Iceland to India.

Carstensen, A. and Walker, C. (2017). The paradox of relational development is not universal: Abstract reasoning develops differently across cultures. In G. Gunzelmann et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Carstensen, A. (2016). Universals and variation in language and thought: Concepts, communication, and semantic structure. (PhD thesis). University of California, Berkeley.

Tseng, C., Carstensen, A., Regier, T., and Xu, Y. (2016). A computational investigation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: The case of spatial relations. In D. Grodner et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Regier, T., Carstensen, A., and Kemp, C. (2016). Languages support efficient communication about the environment: Words for snow revisited. PLOS ONE 11(4): e0151138. Link to source

Carstensen, A., Xu, J., Smith, C., and Regier, T. (2015). Language evolution in the lab tends toward informative communication. In D. Noelle et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 303-308). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Carstensen, A., Kon, E., and Regier, T. (2014). Testing a rational account of pragmatic reasoning: The case of spatial language. In P. Bello et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2009-2013). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Carstensen, A. and Regier, T. (2013). Individuals recapitulate the proposed evolutionary development of spatial lexicons. In M. Knauff et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 293-298). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Link to source | Full text (pdf)

Carstensen, A., Pacer, M., and Regier, T. (2012). Grounding spatial language in non-linguistic cognition: Evidence for universal and relative spatial semantics in thought. In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, and R.P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 827-832). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Carstensen, A. (2011). Universals and variation in spatial language and cognition. Thesis in linguistics, University of California, Berkeley.

Carstensen, A. (2011). Mind the time: Attention mediates cross-domain mappings in time and space. Thesis in psychology, University of California, Berkeley.

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