Research

I have been involved in research collaborations within the department of Linguistics, an active member of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, and an affiliated member of the Language and Cognition Research Group. You can also see research I’ve supervised here.

A current collaboration concerns the effect of social-cognitive underpinnings on the planning of linguistic structure, using an information-theoretic analysis. In particular, I’m interested in the distribution/optimisation of information density by speakers for hearers, and its relevance to our understanding of how the capacity for language evolved.

PhD Research
My PhD (2017) was completed at the Centre for Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh.
How sensitive is the comprehension system to various grades of contextual information in the processing of reference? My thesis made the case that the answer is nontrivial for evolutionary questions about the emergence and adaptation of the language faculty. The theoretical chapters synthesised classical and psycholinguistic accounts of pragmatic processing, and situated these within an evolutionary framework. This derived pertinent testable hypotheses. The experimental chapters summarise a series of reaction time and production experiments that aim to shed light on how referential processing interacts with knowledge shared (or not) by an interlocutor, community-level knowledge, and visual context.

Talks and Publications
(2018) Shillcock, R., Thomas, J., and Bailes, R., Mirror Neurons, Prediction and Hemispheric Coordination; The Prioritizing of Intersubjectivity over ’Intrasubjectivity’, Axiomathes, Springer. [PDF]

(2017) Bailes, R., Intrasubjectivity as a Precursor to Intersubjectivity: Prediction and emulation in hemispheric coordination, Minds, Mechanisms and Interaction in the Evolution of Language Workshop, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen. [accepted abstract ]

(2013) Littauer, R., Roberts, S.G., Winters, J., Bailes, R., Pleyer, M. and Little,
H.., From the Savannah to the Cloud: Blogging Evolutionary Linguistics research, EVOLANG X Student Volume. [abstract]

(2013) Bailes, R. Levels of analysis in the common ground debate, Lab Talk, Centre for Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh. [slides]

(2012) Bailes, R., We evolved to read minds: an adaptationist account of common ground integration, Invited Lecture, Language Society of the University of Edinburgh. [annotated slides]

(2012) Bailes, R., An adaptationist approach to the audience design hypothesis, The Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 9): Proceedings of the 9th International Conference. Singapore: World Scientific. [abstract]

(2012) Bailes, R., Facts about referents as conversational precedents, LEL Postgraduate Conference, University of Edinburgh. [slides]

(2011) Bailes, R., Hemispheric interaction, intersubjectivity and the emergence of language, LEL Postgraduate Conference, University of Edinburgh.

Research Communication and Events

(2019) Ideas with Paul Kennedy: “The Recurring Case of Recursion”, CBC Radio.

(2017) Interdisciplinary Research Event: Learning & Memory, organised with the Language and Cognition Research Group, Newcastle University

(2013) The Headspace with Mark Dance: “Animal Learning“, FreshAir Radio.

(2012-2013) Research blogging, A Replicated Typo

Culture Evolves! Exhibit, University of Edinburgh.
(2011) Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Conference, St Andrews
(2012) British Science Festival, Aberdeen

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