Cristina Vellinga
Position: Former M.Res. student
Office: Developmental Neurocognition Lab
Phone: 020 7631 6468
Fax: 020 7631 6312


My research interest is in the nature and development of figurative language, in particular metaphor, and related aspects of creativity. Does the capacity for understanding, using, producing and creating figurative language gradually emerge during ontological development? If yes, what are the constraints (brain, body, context) of the normal development of this capacity? How much of the variability in its emergence is genetically determined? What is the difference between the nature of literal vs. figurative language? Does creativity imply a different competency, or is it just a matter of degree compared to common figurative language production?


In 2017, I initiated and co-ordinated the NIP Symposium When culture matters. The contribution of (cross)-cultural studies to the development of psychology as a science - 2nd of November 2017 - Utrecht, The Netherlands. The symposium aimed at revealing the importance of (cross)-cultural studies in psychology and the integration of their main findings into a consensual, though contextual behavioural science. Besides an overview of the main achievements in these subfields and their application to the various practical domains (clinical, educational, working settings etc.), the symposium brought into attention the possibilities offered by Bayesian statistics, when applied correctly, for this integrative endeavour. For more information on my presentation and on Bayesian approaches, see here.



Vellinga, C. M. (2017). (Multi)cultural psychology. Will the psychology of the future be valid for everyone? De Psycholoog, nr. 9/2017

Vellinga, C. M. (2016). E-health: voer voor psychologen? (E-health: subject matter for psychologists?) De Psycholoog, nr. 6/2016

Vellinga, C. M. (2016). Technologische vooruitgang of onomkeerbare misrekening? (Technological progress or an irreversible mistake?). Column in GGZ-Totaal, nr. 6/2016

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. & van Dam, P. (2012). Does hearing equal behavior? Academic and behavioral benefits of Berard AIT in clinical practice. Poster presented at EARLI SIG 22: Neuroscience and Education, Institute of Education, London, 24-26 May 2012. Click here for PDF (209k)

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. (2011). Rich context - multiple representations, or rich context - good prototype? Explicative note to the poster presentation held at the 3rd UK Cognitive Linguistic Conference 2010: Language, Mind and Reality, University of Hertfordshire, 6-8th July 2010. Click here for pdf version.

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. (2008). The contribution of data from cognitive neuroscience to understanding human categorisation. Unpublished M.Res. Dissertation, University of London. Click here for full PDF version (1405K) and here for Abstract and Contents (30K).

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. (2010). The language of images: An interview with Stan Hayward about children drawings and the future of (visual) communication. Click here for PDF version (112K).

Abstract: Stan Hayward (79) has been a writer/producer in the field of animation since 1958. Best known for his children's TV/book/comic series Henry's Cat (, he is also associated with developments in computer animation. Hayward won the New Scientist Award in 1970 for a proposal to apply computers to all aspects of film production, and later produced the first fully animated computer film made in the UK ('The Mathematician'). He has had computer animation work exhibited at the Tate Gallery, and in 2006 participated in the 'Computers in the Art Room' project at Birkbeck College. In addition, Hayward has had both Millennium and Kraszna-Krausz Foundation awards for running animation workshops in schools. Being deaf since 35, he has a particular interest in children with special needs and communication problems. His website at is the outcome of this work.

Developments in both animation and computer techniques lead him to believe that written language is rapidly being replaced by graphic representations, and that writing is already on the wane. He also believes that drawing is an innate ability and should be taught equally with literacy and numeracy as an enabling skill. This is rather intriguing since the word as a mode of representation is evolutionary more recent than visual representations, and considered to be a hallmark of humanity. Also, verbal language is considered to have more possibilities than visual signs. For example, the ekphrasis rhetoric technique considers that written text can contain and dominate the visual (and other sensory experiences) by adding something to it. Think of the famous fragment of Achilles' shield in Homer's Iliad, that no student of philology has ever escaped. This complexity of the written text is somehow contradicted by its linearity, but it is explained by the implicated (re)organisation of consciousness, as well as the expression of the human identity behind it (Descartes, cited by Bolter 2001, p. 195). Why would we want to surrender to the visual? How well are we equipped from birth to deal with visual communication? Children drawings may give us a clue.


Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. (2010). Rich context/multiple representations or rich context/good prototype? 3rd UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference: Language, mind and reality, 6-8th July 2010, Univ. of Hertfordshire, U.K.

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. (2009). fMRI from technique to method: How to demonstrate the "how". Presentation at the 12th NVP Winter Conference on Cognition, Brain and Behavior, 18-19th December 2009, Egmont aan Zee, Netherlands.

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. & Thomas, M. S. C. (2009). Imaging modularity vs. distributed cognitive processes: the case of category representations(s) in the brain. What could technology reveal? Presentation at Workshop on Challenges and Methods in Developmental Imaging, KNAW, Amsterdam, May 2009.

Vellinga-Firimita, C. M. & Thomas, M. S. C. (2009). Imaging modularity vs. distributed cognitive processes: the case of category representations(s) in the brain. What can technology reveal about modality-specific representations? 5th NWO Cognition Automn School. From Stimulus to Understanding in Perception and Language, 9-11th October 2009, Doorwerth, The Netherlands.


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