Guillermo Montero-Melis

Guillermo is a postdoc at the Neurobiology of Language department, at the MPI for Psycholinguistics. He is interested in how we represent the meaning of words, which are the building blocks of language. In his research he addresses questions about the relation between language and concepts. For instance, does having a word in your language lead to a more distinct concept for what the word denotes? If so, do you acquire new concepts as you learn a new language? The role of language can also be investigated for concepts that have a strong perceptual basis, such as colors. Most people associate a color with their visual experience of color, but what about people who lack this experience, such as congenitally blind individuals? They only have language to make sense of these concepts.

Guillermo was almost bound to become fascinated by language(s). He was born in Madrid but moved with his family to Berlin while still in pre-school. He alternated between the two countries until moving to Luxembourg, where people speak French, German, and Luxemburgish. Later on he developed a strong interest for Brazil (and Brazilian Portuguese) and did his PhD in Sweden, where he learned Swedish.

The infinite space inside your head: The birth of conceptual spaces

Some writers are ahead of their time. When Jules Verne published From the Earth to the Moon in 1865, not many of his readers (perhaps not even Verne himself) thought the journey to the moon would ever become reality. But it did. Similar stories can be found in science. The gist of an idea may be born as a metaphor, a way to better understand the object of study itself, a crazy hypothesis about how things could be. This blog tells one such story. The basic idea is that the concepts we have in our minds form a space, a conceptual space. And not just in an abstract theoretical way, but quite literally so. But let’s start with the basic question: What is a concept?