Using and acquiring abstract concepts and words is at the core of many domains in psychology and cognitive science. We will devote a three-day free, online Symposium to the review of the state of the art and identify key challenges for theory-building with some of the leading scientists in the field. We cordially invite you to this virtual event organized by BALLAB (Body Action & Language Lab), Sapienza University of Rome within the TRAINCREASE EU Twinning consortium (University of Warsaw, Rome La Sapienza, University of Manchester & Aarhus University). 


March 15th-16th-17th

Conference website >>


Using abstract concepts (e.g., „freedom”) is one of the most sophisticated abilities humans possess. In this conference, some of the leading scientists in the field propose novel perspectives on abstract concepts, their acquisition, representation, and use. The first session is dedicated to the influence of inner speech and language on abstract concepts use and representation. The second session focuses on novel interactive methods to investigate abstract concepts and on abstract concepts variability across cultures and languages. Finally, the third session addresses the role of sensorimotor and interoceptive, emotional, and metacognitive aspects on abstract concepts acquisition, representation, and use.

Invited Speakers and sessions

  1. Language

1.1.Inner speech

    • Helene Lovenbruck (University of Grenoble)

    • Charles Fernyhough (Durham University)

1.2. Abstract concepts and language

    • Guy Dove (University of Louisville)

    • Peter Langland-Hassan (University of Cincinnati)

    • Penny Pexman (University of Calgary)

    • Gary Lupyan (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

    • Dedre Gentner (Northwestern University)

  1. Social interaction and cultures

2.1. Abstract concepts in social interaction

    • Martin Pickering (University of Edinburgh)

    • Mikko Sams (Aalto University)

    • Katharina Rohlfing (Padeborn University)

    • Agnieszka Wykowska (Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa)

2.2. Abstract concepts across cultures and languages

    • Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi (University of Warsaw)

    • Bodo Winter (University of Birmingham)

    • Jack Sidnell (University of Toronto)

  1. Grounding

3.1. Sensorimotor and inner grounding of abstract concepts

    • Larry Barsalou (Glasgow University)

    • Louise Connell (Lancaster University)

    • Nicholas Shea (University of London)

3.2. Abstract concepts, interoception, emotions and metacognition

    • Laura Barca (ISTC-CNR, Rome)

    • Marta Ponari (University of Kent)

    • Luca Tummolini (ISTC-CNR, Rome)

    • Anna Borghi (Sapienza University of Rome) (introduction)

    • and the TRAINCREASE members (conclusion)


Registration is not mandatory; the conference will be streamed to the TRAINCREASE YouTube channel (subscribe!). However, your contact information may help us resolve any technical problems that may occur (e.g. changes to the schedule or technical issues). Therefore, we encourage you to sign in the form:

Save the date! March: 15th, 16th and 17th, from 2.30 pm CET.

Feel free to pass this information to your colleagues and students, as well as spread the news in social media. For your convenience below we attach the links for the conference social media activities:

This is the first appointment of various events on abstract concepts organized by TRAINCREASE, so stay tuned!