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Gesche Westphal Fitch, associated DK candidate

I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa with German parents, so I am an English-German bilingual. My first degree is in linguistics – I was interested in the syntactic differences in the language of bilinguals, and wrote my master's thesis at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany on syntactic properties of the language of the Amish in Pennsylvania, who have lived in the US for centuries, but still speak a variant of German in addition to English.

I am an active quilter, and the complex geometrical patterns used in traditional patchwork actually were part of what inspired me to do a PhD on the perception and production of non-representational 2D patterns.


I am interested in pattern perception in humans and other animals. Currently I am conducting touchscreen experiments with pigeons to see whether they can classify patterns and violations of patterns the same way that we do. In addition, I am developing eyetracking and Web-based experiments for humans. Because the types of patterns that people across the world create differ widely in their cultural traditions, Web-based experiments are a useful tool to compare performance of different populations form around the world.

With the eyetracking experiments, I hope to pinpoint the effect of structural complexity on our eye movements when looking at visual 2D patterns. gesche.w.fitch at univie.ac.atunivie.ac.at



29.05.2012, 5th Vienna Aestetics Symposium: Psychology and Art - Historical Dimensions? Presentation and Panel Discussion: Fechner revisited: Towards an inclusive approach to aesthetics, Vienna University

03.-05.07.2011, Cognitio 2011: Nonhuman Minds, Animal, Artificial or Other Minds. Presentation: How do minds perceive patterns? Montréal, Canada

23.-24.11.2010, Workshop on Artificial Grammar Learning and Formal Language Theory () Poster: Comparative studies in pattern processing, MPI - Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, Netherlands.


Westphal-Fitch, G. (2011). Changes in frequency as a measure of language change: Extraposition in Pennsylvania German. In M. J. Putnam (Ed.), Studies on German-Language Islands (pp. 371-384). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fitch, W. T., & Westphal-Fitch, G. (2012). General Introduction. In W. T. Fitch & G. Westphal Fitch (Eds.), Language Evolution (pp. 1-19). Abingdon: Routledge.

Westphal-Fitch, G., Huber, L., Gómez, J. C., & Fitch, W. T. (in press). Production and perception rules underlying visual patterns: Effects of symmetry and hierarchy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Fitch, W.T. & Westphal-Fitch G (submitted ): Fechner revisited: Towards an inclusive approach toaesthetics. To appear in Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

Westphal-Fitch, G. & Fitch W.T. (in prep.): Quasi-crazy: A quantitative analyses of crazy quilts (1880-1920)


Westphal-Fitch G and Fitch T (in prep): Quasi-crazy: A quantitative analysis of crazy quilts (1880-1920)

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