Titus von der Malsburg

Junior Professor for Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Modeling at University of Stuttgart
Photo of Titus von der Malsburg


Address:
University of Stuttgart
Institute of Linguistics
Keplerstraße 17
70174 Stuttgart

e-Mail:
titus.von-der-malsburg@ling.uni-stuttgart.de
PGP public key

Profiles:
Github
Google Scholar
OSF
ORCID

Mastodon
Twitter

News

  • Two CogSci 2024 papers:
    • Prysłopska, A., & von der Malsburg, Titus (2024). Severe storm warnings for four-story homeowners: Towards a processing model of bracketing paradoxes. (Poster)
    • Ranjan, S., & von der Malsburg, Titus (2024). Work smarter … not harder: Efficient minimization of dependency length in SOV languages. (Talk)
  • Summer school: I’m going to teach a course on crowdsourcing methods in linguistics at the EXPGRAM 2024 summer school.
  • Teaching summer term 2024:
    • Acquisition and analysis of eye-tracking data (with Benedikt Ehinger and Judith Schepers) [ http ]
    • Research colloquium: Computational and experimental psycholinguistics (with support from Anna Prysłopska and Sidharth Ranjan) [ http ]
  • New article in JML: Laurinavichyute & von der Malsburg (2024). Agreement attraction in grammatical sentences and the role of the task [ http ]
  • Call for abstracts: The 2nd Workshop on Eye Movements and the Assessment of Reading Comprehension. June 20–22, 2024, Zürich, Switzerland. Organized by Lena Jäger, Yevgeni Berzak, and myself. [ http ]

Bio

I investigate how we make sense of language. How is each word that we hear or read combined with our understanding of the text so far? What sources of knowledge do we recruit in this process? And how are they combined, especially when they are in conflict? To answer questions like these, I use experimental and computational methods ranging from eye-tracking and event-related brain potentials to large-scale crowd-sourcing, corpus methods, Bayesian data analysis, and computational cognitive modeling.

I am a tenure-track professor at the Institute of Linguistics at the University of Stuttgart. Previously, I held postdoctoral positions at University of Potsdam, UC San Diego, and the University of Oxford. I earned my PhD in Cognitive Science at the University of Potsdam where I also served as a visiting professor for two years. In addition to my academic work, I have worked as a software engineer, founded two companies, and collaborated with sound artists and composers at the intersection of science and art.

Research interests: Incremental sentence comprehension; reading comprehension, reading strategies, and scanpaths; syntactic ambiguity and ambiguity resolution; implicit linguistic gender biases; cue-based parsing, working memory, interference; locality and word order; expectation, prediction, surprisal, and information density; cognitive biases and bounded rationality; resumptive pronouns; dog whistles, plausible deniability, and social meaning; experimental methods, especially web-based and eye-tracking; corpus methods and neural language models; Bayesian and frequentist statistics; computational cognitive modeling.

Teaching interests: Human sentence processing, eye-tracking, Bayesian data analysis, corpus methods, neural language models, web-based experimental methods, scientific computing, foundations of math.

Media coverage:

My name is a bit unusual and can cause confusion. To clarify: My first name is “Titus” and my surname is “von der Malsburg”. Despite common misconceptions, my name should not be written as “Von Der Malsburg”, just “Malsburg”, or “van der Malsburg” (with “van” instead of “von”). Nor should “von der” be treated as a middle name. For historical and practical reasons, it’s customary to list my name alphabetically under “M” not “v”. In BibTeX entries, it’s best to write {von der Malsburg}, Titus and to include the field sortname = {Malsburg} when I’m the first author of a publication.

Full CV as PDF

Lab

My group consists two postdocs, Dr. Anna Prysłopska and Dr. Sidharth Ranjan, and Candy Adusei, who supports us as a student assistant. Together, we use a range of tools to conduct research, including a TRACKPixx3 eye-tracker (2Hz, binocular, similar to EyeLink 1000+) and three GazePoint trackers (two GP3 HD and one GP3). The latter are primarily used for rapid prototyping of experiments and for eye-tracking education.

Working with us

If you are interested in joining our group as a doctoral student or postdoc, we encourage you to get in touch. Before doing so, we kindly ask that you conduct some research to see if your research interests align with ours. Our group emphasizes high technical quality, robustness of research findings, replicability, and reproducibility. This means that lab members are expected to possess or to develop proficiency in statistics and in software tools such as Rmarkdown or LaTeX/Knitr, and version control systems like git. Basic programming skills in Python or R will also be beneficial. When contacting us, ensure that your message explicitly connects your research interests with the specific research conducted in our group. This will help us better understand how you could contribute and thrive as a member of our team.

Blog

Better described as random technical notes, some of which are taken from our internal lab wiki.

Software

Science fundamentally relies on open source / libre software that prioritizes users’ needs over shareholders' interests. As such, we are committed to contributing to a robust software ecosystem developed and maintained by researchers for researchers.

For conducting experiment:

R packages:

  • Scasim: Implements my measure for scanpath similarity along with some tools for data preprocessing and visualization. The measure is described in von der Malsburg & Vasishth (JML, 2011).
  • Saccades: Detection of saccades and fixations in raw eyetracking data. Implements the velocity-based algorithm by Engbert & Kliegl (Vis Res, 2003).
  • binomialCRIs: R package with functions for calculating and plotting binomial credible intervals. Developed for educational purposes.
  • edfR: An R package for reading EDF files generated by EyeLink eye-trackers. Not actively maintained (since I’m no longer using EyeLink trackers).

Emacs packages:

  • helm-bibtex: A bibliography manager for Emacs. With 450+ GitHub stars and 150K+ downloads my biggest open source success. Used by researchers around the world.
  • guess-language.el: Emacs minor mode that detects the language you’re typing in. Automatically switches spell checker. Supports multiple languages per document.
  • tango-plus-theme: Color theme for Emacs loosely based on the tango palette.
  • mwk.el: Yet another Zettelkasten system for Emacs. This one tries to be simple and easy to use. I use this daily for my own note-taking needs.
  • txl.el: Emacs extension that offers direct access to DeepL machine translation. Named in honor of the now-closed TXL airport in Berlin.
  • helm-mu: Helm sources for filtering emails and contacts using mu, a maildir indexer.
  • helm-dictionary: Helm front-end for quick dictionary access.
  • helm-org-contacts: A helm source for address books in org-contacts format.

Publications

RSS feed: To receive notifications about new publications, right-click on the button “Publications as RSS feed”, copy the link, and import it into your RSS feed reader.

Publications as RSS feed

BibTeX: Click the button below to download a BibTeX file listing all my publications. This file can be imported into bibliography managers such as Zotero, Jabref, or Mendeley.

Publications as BibTeX

Manuscripts

Meyer, M.-C. and von der Malsburg, T. (2024). The role of conversational principles in cognitive biases: The case of overprecision in interval estimation. Under review.
Conversational principles such as Grice's maxim of Quantity (roughly: be informative) are essential to our ability to communicate efficiently. Due to their ubiquitous nature in language-based communication, they may interfere in a large variety of other cognitive tasks which at first glance may not seem linguistic in nature. Here, we report three experiments that investigated the role of the Quantity maxim in the overconfidence bias in interval estimation (also referred to as overprecision). Experiment 1 (N=309) used a chat paradigm to bias participants against providing the most informative answer, as would be required by Quantity, resulting in a reduced overprecision bias. Experiment 2 (N=322) and Experiment 3 (N=309) tested whether this effect depends on explicit social cues, specifically, the presence of a conversational partner. Both experiments replicated Experiment 1 in the absence of a full conversational context, thus showing that linguistic cues alone are sufficient. Taken together, these results suggest that conversational principles – extensively studied in linguistics, but largely ignored in research on cognitive biases – play an important role in the overprecision bias and, as we argue, likely in other biases as well.
Hole, D. and von der Malsburg, T. (2023). Patterns in the phonology of Mandarin Chinese: Basic color terms and beyond. Under review.
Pankratz, E., von der Malsburg, T., and Vasishth, S. (2022). Shannon entropy is a more comprehensive and principled morphological productivity measure than the standard alternatives. Under review. [ http ]
Existing corpus-based measures of morphological productivity all exhibit problematic dependences on sample size. Here, we show that another measure, the Shannon entropy of a type frequency distribution, has a different relationship with sample size, one that allows meaningful analysis in a wider range of circumstances. Once the sample gets large enough, entropy stabilises at interpretable values. In contrast to the existing measures, this behaviour allows the entropy scores of samples of different sizes to be sensibly compared. Entropy's stabilisation is due to an intriguing property of type frequency distributions, namely their self-similarity: even when sample size changes, the shape of the distribution itself does not. We also include empirical comparisons of entropy to three standard productivity measures—type count, potential productivity, and S—and provide a tentative conceptual validation of entropy as a productivity measure, showing with a Bayesian regression model that entropy picks up on important aspects of what it means for a morpheme to be productive.

Journal articles

Laurinavichyute, A. and von der Malsburg, T. (2024). Agreement attraction in grammatical sentences and the role of the task. Journal of Memory and Language, 137:104525. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Bianchi, B., Loredo, R., da Fonseca, M., Carden, J., Jaichenco, V., von der Malsburg, T., Shalom, D. E., and Kamienkowski, J. (2023). Neural bases of predictions during natural reading of known statements: An electroencephalography and eye movements co-registration study. Neuroscience, 519:131-146. [ bib | DOI ]
Mézière, D. C., Yu, L., Reichle, E. D., von der Malsburg, T., and McArthur, G. (2023b). Using eye-tracking measures to predict reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 58(3):425-449. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Mézière, D. C., Yu, L., McArthur, G., Reichle, E. D., and von der Malsburg, T. (2023a). Scanpath regularity as an index of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 0(0):1-22. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Stone, K., Vasishth, S., and von der Malsburg, T. (2022). Does entropy modulate the prediction of German long-distance verb particles? PLOS ONE. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Laurinavichyute, A. and von der Malsburg, T. (2022). Semantic attraction in sentence comprehension. Cognitive Science, 46(2):e13086. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Parshina, O., Sekerina, I., Lopukhina, A., and von der Malsburg, T. (2022). Monolingual and bilingual reading strategies in Russian: An exploratory scanpath analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 57(2). [ bib | DOI | http | .pdf ]
Wehbe, L., Blank, I. A., Shain, C., Futrell, R., Levy, R., von der Malsburg, T., Smith, N., Gibson, E., and Fedorenko, E. (2021). Incremental language comprehension difficulty predicts activity in the language network but not the multiple demand network. Cerebral Cortex. [ bib | DOI | http ]
von der Malsburg, T., Poppels, T., and Levy, R. P. (2020). Implicit gender bias in linguistic descriptions for expected events: The cases of the 2016 United States and 2017 United Kingdom elections. Psychological Science, 31(2):115-128. [ bib | DOI | .pdf | .pdf ]
Morgan, A. M., von der Malsburg, T., Ferreira, V. S., and Wittenberg, E. (2020). Shared syntax between comprehension and production: Multi-paradigm evidence that resumptive pronouns hinder comprehension. Cognition, 205:104417. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
Paape, D., Vasishth, S., and von der Malsburg, T. (2020). Quadruplex negatio invertit? The on-line processing of depth charge sentences. Journal of Semantics, 37(4):509-555. [ bib | DOI | http | .pdf ]
Stone, K., von der Malsburg, T., and Vasishth, S. (2020). The effect of decay and lexical uncertainty on processing long-distance dependencies. PeerJ, page 8:e10438. [ bib | DOI | http ]
Schotter, E., von der Malsburg, T., and Leinenger, M. (2018b). Forced fixations, trans-saccadic integration, and word recognition: Evidence for a hybrid mechanism of saccade triggering in reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(5):677-688. [ bib | DOI | http | .pdf ]
Schotter, E., Leinenger, M., and von der Malsburg, T. (2018a). When your mind ignores what your eyes see: How forced fixations lead to comprehension illusions in reading. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(5):1884-1890. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
von der Malsburg, T. and Angele, B. (2017). False positives and other statistical errors in standard analyses of eye movements in reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 94:119-133. [ bib | DOI | .pdf | .pdf ]
Metzner, P., von der Malsburg, T., Vasishth, S., and Rösler, F. (2016). The importance of reading naturally: Evidence from combined recordings of eye movements and electric brain potentials. Cognitive Science, 41(S6):1232–1263. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
von der Malsburg, T., Kliegl, R., and Vasishth, S. (2015). Determinants of scanpath regularity in reading. Cognitive Science, 39(7):1675-1703. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
Metzner, P., von der Malsburg, T., Vasishth, S., and Rösler, F. (2015). Brain responses to world-knowledge violations: A comparison of stimulus- and fixation-triggered event-related potentials and neural oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(5):1017-1028. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
von der Malsburg, T. and Vasishth, S. (2013). Scanpaths reveal syntactic underspecification and reanalysis strategies. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(10):1545-1578. [ bib | DOI | .pdf | .pdf ]
Vasishth, S., von der Malsburg, T., and Engelmann, F. (2013). What eye movements can tell us about sentence comprehension. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4(2):125-134. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
Marusch, T., von der Malsburg, T., Bastiaanse, R., and Burchert, F. (2012). Tense morphology in german agrammatism: The production of regular, irregular and mixed verbs. The Mental Lexicon, 7(3):351-380. [ bib | DOI | .pdf ]
von der Malsburg, T. and Vasishth, S. (2011). What is the scanpath signature of syntactic reanalysis? Journal of Memory and Language, 65(2):109-127. [ bib | DOI | .pdf | .pdf ]

Proceedings articles

Ranjan, S. and von der Malsburg, T. (2024). Work smarter … not harder: Efficient minimization of dependency length in SOV languages. In Samuelson, L. K., Frank, S., Toneva, M., Mackey, A., and Hazeltine, E., editors, Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Cognitive Science Society, Cognitive Science Society. [ bib ]
Prysłopska, A. and von der Malsburg, T. (2024). Severe storm warnings for four-story homeowners: Towards a processing model of bracketing paradoxes. In Samuelson, L. K., Frank, S., Toneva, M., Mackey, A., and Hazeltine, E., editors, Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Cognitive Science Society, Cognitive Science Society. [ bib ]
Ranjan, S. and von der Malsburg, T. (2023). A bounded rationality account of dependency length minimization in Hindi. In Goldwater, M., Anggoro, F., Hayes, B., and Ong, D., editors, Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sidney, Australia. Cognitive Science Society, Cognitive Science Society. [ bib | http | .pdf ]
Marusch, T., von der Malsburg, T., Bastiaanse, R., and Burchert, F. (2013). Tempusmorphologie bei deutschen Agrammatikern: Die Sprachproduktion von regulären, irregulären und gemischten Verben. In Spektrum Patholinguistik, volume 6, pages 219-223, Potsdam, Germany. Universitätsverlag Potsdam. [ bib ]
von der Malsburg, T., Vasishth, S., and Kliegl, R. (2012). Scanpaths in reading are informative about sentence processing. In Michael Carl, P. B. and Choudhary, K. K., editors, Proceedings of the First Workshop on Eye-tracking and Natural Language Processing, pages 37-53, Mumbai, India. The COLING 2012 organizing committee. [ bib | http | .pdf ]
von der Malsburg, T., Baumann, T., and Schlangen, D. (2009). TELIDA: A package for manipulation and visualization of timed linguistic data. In Proceedings of the SIGDIAL 2009 Conference: The 10th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue, pages 302-305, London, UK. Association for Computational Linguistics. [ bib ]

Other publications

For conference abstracts and artistic works see my full CV (PDF).