Ronan Reilly, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1955. Ph.D. from University College Dublin. College Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at University College Dublin.
Fellow (1 September 1995 – 30 June 1996)
In my initial research proposal, I identified three interwoven strands to the research I would pursue while at NIAS. The first strand involved exploiting insights from the radical new perspective that connectionism afforded on brain computation. The second involved an investigation of developmental and evolutionary data in an attempt better to understand the brain computation underlying language processing. The third and final strand was to explore syntax within the context of naturalistic conversation.
Overall I made progress in all of the areas that I intended. In some cases not as much as I had hoped (conversational syntax), but in other areas considerably more than I could have wished for. In particular, I have started to develop what I refer to as cortical software re-use theory. This aims to provide a unified computational framework that can account for the ontogeny and phylogeny of language and more generally of cognition. I am confident that the work I have started on this theory here at NIAS will yield significant results in the future.
NIAS made at least two direct contributions to my research activity and one indirect one. The first direct contribution was in the provision of a tranquil and supportive environment for carrying out my research. I found it a particularly sympathetic environment for the contemplation and development of my more speculative ideas. The second direct contribution was in the fruitful and stimulating interaction I had with members of my theme group “Human Syntactic Processing”, and with other NIAS fellows.
An important indirect contribution made by NIAS was in affording me the opportunity to interact with researchers in other institutions in the Netherlands. Audiences in various universities around the Netherlands provided an ideal sounding board for many of my developing ideas.