Deictic Communication (DCOMM)



    Communication involves a combination of language and gestures that act in concert. Deictic communication is paradigmatic of communication, allowing speakers to use language and gesture to refer, and direct the attention of a hearer, to an object/place in the world (e.g., this phone/that table). Understanding deictic communication is critical for human to human interaction, and human to system interaction in a range of technology applications – from mobile phones to intelligent robots – and to the enhancement of clinical and educational interventions.

    Objectives and Activities The research training project, called DCOMM, enabled UEA to work with 11 European partner organisations, including the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and industry experts such as motion capture specialists Qualisys, based in Sweden, and automation company Danieli Telerobot, in Italy. Support also came from organisations specialising in software and technology development, architecture and brain rehabilitation. 


    Professor of Psychology at UEA, Kenny Coventry, DCOMM coordinator, said at the start of the project: "Deictic communication is critical to understanding not only how communication develops typically in a range of spoken and signed languages, but also when communication can potentially break down in a range of clinical and atypically developing populations, from stroke patients to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

    Understanding deictic communication is also essential to develop robots with better communication skills, and to understand how people can most effectively interact when communicating with each other about the spatial world, for example, in architectural design or through mobile phones and other technology applications. DCOMM will train researchers in both the basic science of deictic communication and in application, with a broad range of potential beneficiaries in both the private and public sectors.”  

    Professor Coventry added: "UEA is delighted to be leading this interdisciplinary training network that brings together an exciting mix of leading scientists and industrial partners to understand deictic communication both conceptually and in application." 


    The programme trained the next generation of scientists in methods necessary to make significant progress in understanding deictic communication. The research and training was structured around two key themes – understanding deictic communication and deictic communication in application. 

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    The project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions grant agreement No 676063.

    Principal Investigator

    Professor Kenny Coventry (School of Psychology, UEA) 

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