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Regular version of the site

Social programme

Social programme

Dinner tickets left (29.08): 18 out of 180

Tour tickets left (29.08): Sold out

Conference Dinner and Moskva river tour

Onе of the greatest way to see Moscow is to take a river cruise. We are glad to announce that conference dinner will take place on September 7th and it will be combined with a Moskva river tour. In order to purchase your dinner ticket please select the right tariff when paying your registration+ fee. The dinner cruise will last between 3 and 4 hours.

Note that due to boat’s capacity restrictions, the number of dinner tickets is limited to 180. As a result, dinner tickets will be allocated on first-come-first-serve basis. In other words, when they’re gone, they’re really gone! 


Moscow city tours

Notice that each tour has a capacity limit!

Walking along courtyards and alleys of Chistoprudny boulevard.

Max attendies: 40
Tickets left: sold out)

Duration: 90 minute

We start our tour at Armyansky alley, talking about the story of the name of the alley and passing by the most beautiful buildings: Embassy of Belarus (with a story of Napoleon in Moscow), Institute of Oriental Languages (and a short story of the Lazaryev family – founders and owners of the building).
We turn to Krivokolennyi alley and listen to the story of the origin of the name of the alley, passing by the houses where Pushkin first time read out his legendary poem “Boris Godunov”, see beautiful tiles on the revenue house of Stroganov Institute and the architecture Fedor Shekhtel (Russian Gaudi). Krivokolennyi in 18 th -19 th  century was the center of mason movement in Moscow – here was their guest house and legendary printing house.
Then we come to one of the most beautiful churches of Moscow – Menshikov Tower:  of its owner and his attempt to break the norms of building in Moscow – his church was 3 meters higher than John the Great Bell and how this plan was ruined by “the hand of God”. We will decipher codes and pictures on the church itself -once it was the main Church of the mason movement in Russia.
Come to the Chistoprudnyi boulevard – story about foundation of Moscow (as this is exactly the place where Moscow was founded as a city).
Building of Borodinskaya battle panorama (with retro photos of the opening event)
Beautiful building of Revenue Home of Trinity Church with decipher of fantastic animals on the front of it.
Turn to Mashkov alley – legendary Egg-House and private zoo in the courtyard of the modern house.
Palace with underground passage that John the Terrible built to rest during hunting.
Monument to young Vladimir Lenin
French Chateux, where the heart of Boris Pasternak was broken
House under the protection of the Knight and a lizard.
English architecture as a symbol of glory of industrial revolution and technical progress.
Original wooden house with laces
How “pipedream” of an ordinary merchant from region came true and why he colored his house in blue.
Russian constructivism, five principles of Le Corbusier and history of the monument to the legendary architecture.
We finish our tour in front of the metro station “Red Gates” talking about the story of the name (with retro photos), story of building metro station and skyscape building (with the story of “Moscow 7 sisters”).


Royal Moscow (SOLD OUT)

Duration: 90 minutes

The House of Romanov is a powerful dynasty surrounded by mysteries and secrets, who ruled Russia, overseeing sweeping cultural and political changes and expanding the size of the empire for 300 years.
We invite you to join our exciting tour to discover interesting stories about the Romanovs life and immerse yourself in the history of Moscow. Hear the amazing tales of how “the ancient capital” was expanding and changing under the rule of different tsars and emperors, and how it affected the life of the muscovites. Uncover interesting facts about the Moscow Kremlin, the last emperor and his family, about Rasputin.  Reveal the secrets of three hundred years of royal traditions, gossip and intrigue – how the tsars were choosing their brides, how many dresses Elizabeth Petrovna had and how many lovers – Catherine the Great. Learn which streets still keep memories about the Romanovs and what the representatives of the Royal family are up to nowadays. See the major historical areas of Moscow: Kitay-Gorod, Lubyanka, Varvarka, Zaryadie park, Alexandrovsky Garden.

Bolshoi theatre behind the scenes

Max attendies: 15
Tickets left: sold out

Duration: 90 minutes

Theatre life is flourishing in Moscow. Join us to explore the most famous theatre of Russia behind the scenes. You will have a unique opportunity to stroll around the lower lobby, White foyer, Round and Beethoven halls, the Choral, visit the rehearsal stage and see a sophisticated and ultra-modern stage control system: in a few minutes it turns into a concert hall, orchestra pit and a choir hall.  If you are lucky, you might even see a rehearsal! We will try our best to make your date with Bolshoi theatre unforgettable!


Art-tour to the Tretyakov Gallery – masterpieces of Russian art

Max attendies: 20
Tickets left: sold out

Duration: 90 minutes

We invite you to look closely and feel deeply about the works of art on display at the Tretyakov Gallery! Our expert guides will show you the beauty and value of the most outstanding art masterpieces: “Portrait of Alexander Pushkin” by Orest Kiprensky, “The rider” by Karl Briullov, “The appearance of Christ before the people” by Alexander Ivanov, “Bogatyrs”  by Vasiliy Vasnetsov, seascapes of Ivan Aivazovsky and landscapes of Ivan Shishkin; paintings of Ilya Repin and Vasily Surikov. See the transformation of the Russian art over 200 years: from the reforms of Peter the Great till the end of XIX century.
And a cherry on top – hear  the sensational story of the loss of Arhip Kuindzhi’s painting from the Tretyakov Gallery straight from the horse’s mouth!


            Every day we effortlessly produce sentences talking about objects, actions, people, and events. Producing sentences about visually perceived events requires several choices to be made by the speaker. Some of these choices refer to the selection of the syntactic structure of the produced sentence. When describing a transitive event for example, a speaker of English can choose between active and passive voice frames. In addition to the choice between structural alternatives, many languages offer their speakers the choice between different word-order options (scrambling; Gell-Mann and Ruhlen, 2011). These two processes relate to the question addressed in this paper: How does the speaker decide which particular frame to choose and how to arrange the constituents in a sentence? Here, we report the results of a sentence production study that investigated how manipulations of visual attention and event orientation affect speakers’ choice of word order in Russian – a free-order language that supports scrambling via explicit case marking and explicit constituent agreement.

            In a visually situated context, the sentence production process begins with image apprehension. At this stage, input from perceptual modalities (e.g. visual, auditory, motor) provides initial information for conceptual and linguistic interpretation of the event, with attention acting as a filter modulating and ranking the input according to what is relevant, noticeable, or important. The final product of this filtration process is then coded by the production system and is reflected in a generated sentence. Existing literature provides evidence that the speaker’s attentional state is reflected in their choice of syntactic structure (see Myachykov, Pokhoday and Tomlin, 2018 for a recent review). In one of the earliest studies (Tomlin, 1995), English-speaking participants watched a film depicting one fish (the agent) eating another fish (the patient). Attention of the speaker was manipulated by means of an explicit (i.e. consciously processed) exogenous visual cue - an arrow pointer above either the agent or the patient. The task was to continuously describe the interaction between the two fish including the eating event itself (the target event). Descriptions of the target events were analysed for their syntactic structure: participants produced more active voice descriptions (e.g. the blue fish eats the red fish) when the cue was on the agent fish. When, however, attention was directed to the patient fish, a passive voice description (e.g. the red fish was eaten by the blue fish) was more likely. This and similar findings indicate that attention to one of the interacting protagonists is reflected in the sentence production strategies, which include assigning the referents to their constituent roles in the sentence (Coco & Keller, 2012; 2015; Gleitman, et al., 2007; Iwabuchi, et al., 2013; Montag & MacDonnald, 2014; Myachykov, et al., 2011, 2012; Myachykov, Garrod, & Scheepers, 2012; 2018; Rommers, Meyer, & Praamstra, 2017, Pokhoday et al, 2018; Pokhoday and Myachykov, 2018).

            At the same time, it remains unclear whether the attentional contribution to structural choice is universal across languages. After all, English is a language with a largely restricted word order while other languages (Russian, Finnish etc.) rely upon a wider degree of word-order flexibility. This question was addressed only in a couple of existing reports (Hwang & Kaiser, 2014; Myachykov et al. 2011). One study (Myachykov and Tomlin 2008) used a methodology similar to Tomlin (1995) studying Russian native speakers. The results indicated that, unlike their English counterparts, Russian speakers did not assign the subject role to the cued referent; instead, they selected it as the sentential starting point generating patient-initial or agent-initial active-voice word orders in both cueing conditions. One explanation for this difference is a different degree of reliance on syntactic alternations and scrambling strategies in English and Russian: While syntactic alternations (e.g. active/passive) are quite common in English, Russian uses its explicit morphology, making scrambling a more productive and more frequently used mechanism (Kolomackiy, 2009).

            While this finding provided initial evidence for the role of the speaker’s attentional focus in Russian sentence production, it was confounded by methodological limitations similar to the ones pointed out by Bock and colleagues (2004). The most critical points were (1) the repetitive use of the event of one fish eating the other in all trials without filler materials, (2) the explicitness of the cueing manipulation - the parallel presentation of the cue and the target. In real-life communication, salience, including visual salience, can be much more subtle; hence, one may need to use equally subtle attention manipulations in order to properly understand the role of attentional focus in structural choice. In English, such modifications have been implemented in studies that successfully replicated the original findings by Tomlin using improved experimental designs (e.g., Gleitman, et al., 2007; Myachykov, Garrod, & Scheepers, 2012; 2018, as well as by authors of this paper in Pokhoday at al., 2018). However, the same has never been done in studies investigating the role of attention in sentence production in flexible word-order languages.

            Another important contributor to the speaker’s behavior that rarely features in sentence production studies is the asymmetry of event conceptualization. Naturally, the same event can be perceived from a variety of perspectives that have little to do with the event’s salience but rather reflect speakers’ top-down biases. Some of these top-down biases have been extensively studied. For example, conceptual accessibility – or “the ease with which the mental representation of some potential referent can be activated in or retrieved from memory” (Bock and Warren, 1985, p. 50) has been shown to bias structural choices in a manner very similar to that of attention – a more accessibly referent tends to be assigned a more prominent grammatical role in a produced sentence. Individual components that were shown to increase conceptual accessibility and bias syntactic choice include referential imageability (Bock & Warren, 1985), givenness (Bock, 1977; Arnold, et al., 2000), animacy (Prat-Sala & Branigan, 2000; Christianson & Ferreira, 2005; Altman & Kemper, 2006), definiteness (Grieve & Wales, 1973), and prototypicality (Kelly, et al., 1986).

            Yet another top-down feature that biases speakers’ conceptualization of the described event has to do with the distribution of the thematic roles among the event protagonists. More specifically, some reports suggest that the event’s agent is more likely to be conceptualized ahead of the event’s patient and be assigned a more prominent syntactic role, e.g., that of a Subject (Kemmerer, 2012; Cohn & Pazynski, 2013). This so-called “agent advantage” was supported in a recent study by Hafri et al. (2018). In their work they tested how the role of the referent character affects performance of participants in the unrelated tasks (attending to visual features unrelated to the roles). They found that if the target referent switched from agent to patient between trials, the response time increased. These authors concluded that such pattern of results reflects the automaticity and rapidness of referent role extraction during event perception.

            The mental representations of the events tend to reflect the conceptualization asymmetry described above (Santiago et al., 2010; Tversky, 2011). Santiago et al. (2010), for example, investigated the direction of mental representations of perceived events. They reported results of three experiments, which indicate that participants perceived both video events and static events on a continuum from left to right. Tversky (2011) also discussed the existence of canonical (agent on the left) and non-canonical (agent on the right) event representations. These findings suggest a degree of canonicality in event perception with the establishment of a top-down effect that can be traced in sentence production strategies. In addition, a study by Dobel et al. (2007) tested whether the event orientation effect is a result of a hemispheric specialization or a cultural preference. They compared the drawings of German (left-to-right reading and writing) and Hebrew (right-to-left reading and writing) speakers. Participants heard a sentence in which the position of agent or recipient have been manipulated, then they were to draw the event. Hebrew speakers draw left-to right events positioning the agent on the left about 30% less frequently than German speakers. Dobel and colleagues concluded that there exists a bias consistent with a reading direction and thus supported the cultural hypothesis (see also Maass & Russo, 2003). Similarly, a study by Esaulova and colleagues (2018) had German and Arabic speakers describe visually presented events with the agent positioned on the left or on the right. Arabic speakers preferred to start their descriptions with the agents on the right while their German counterparts demonstrated the opposite preference. Hence, positioning of the referents in visual scenes may be shaped by the characteristics of the particular writing system used in the speakers’ language.

            Here, we address both aforementioned features – an improved control of attention in comparison with previous work and control of agent-patient asymmetry in event conceptualization – at once. In general, we predict that the left-to-right processing bias, common in left-to-right readers, will lead to faster processing and a higher probability of using the referent on the left as the sentential starting point. In addition, if event orientation is a significant contributor to syntactic choice, one would predict an interaction between the cue location and event orientation (Myachykov, Posner, & Tomlin, 2007). In sum, the present study aimed at testing the degree of the perceptual visual priming effect in syntactic alternations during Russian transitive sentence production. Deeper investigation of that aspect of sentence production can hint at the existence of different language production mechanisms, in this case grammatical role assignment mechanism, between English and Russian.


This experiment was approved by the Local Ethics Committee of National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow.


To determine the sample size we used previous research as reference. 24 participants (18 females, mean age = 21, SD = 1.62) recruited from the students and staff population at the HSE University took part in the study. To participate in the study, participants had to be native Russian speakers, have normal (or corrected to normal) vision, and have no language or attention-related impairments (e.g., dyslexia, ADHD). Participants received course credits or monetary remuneration for their participation. All participants gave written informed consent before taking part.


We have adopted the procedure and the stimuli from our previous work (Myachykov et al., 2012; Pokhoday et al., 2018). Two independent variables were manipulated: Cue Location (towards the agent or towards the patient) and Event Orientation (Agent on the left or Agent on the right). This resulted in a 2x2 factorial design with Cue Location and Event Orientation as within-subjects/within-items factors. The dependent variable was the proportion of the sentences where Patient referent was the first element of the sentence (Patient-first sentences).


Pic.1 Transitive event: “The chef shoots the burglar”

To keep experimental conditions similar to our previous studies (Pokhoday et al., 2018) we have used the same stimulus materials (adopted from Myachykov et al 2012). Target pictures depicted six transitive events rotated between sixteen referents (see Appendix I for the list of events and referents). We have crossed over the characters and the events to create 48 transitive-event target stimuli (Pic.1 for example). Each event, performed by different characters, was shown to a participant 8 times. Participants received an equal number of Left-to-Right and Right-to-Left stimuli pictures. Materials were presented in a pseudo-random order such that a minimum of two filler pictures separated target pictures from each other. Filler materials (N=96) were included to avoid potential structural priming bias (e.g. Bock, 1986). In filler trials, participants described ditransitive or intransitive events. In ditransitive filler trials, participants produced either double-object or prepositional-object structures. In intransitive filler trials, they produced single-referent SV sentences
. Materials were arranged into four lists, which allowed all events to feature in all four experimental conditions in a fully counterbalanced fashion. Each participant saw only one list out of four.



Fig. 2. Example of the experimental trial.

The experiment was created in SR Research Experiment Builder v2.1.140 software (SR Research Ltd, Ottawa, Canada). An EyeLink 1000+ Desktop eye tracker (SR Research) was used to record fixation locations prior to presentation of a perceptual cue in order to avoid any possible directional biases. Eye movements were recorded from the right eye only with a 1000 Hz sampling rate. Stimuli were delivered by the eye tracker PC to an ASUS VG248QE 24-inch display (refresh rate 144Hz). Generated sentences were recorded using a voice recorder application (Smart Recorder 1.8.0, SmartMob) and stored on a password protected PC. Participants were seated 60 cm away from the monitor with their head position controlled by a chinrest.


The study took place in the eye-tracking laboratory of the HSE Centre for Cognition and Decision Making. Before the experiment, participants provided their demographics and signed consent forms. After reading experimental instructions, participants received a practice session followed by the eye tracker calibration procedure (standard 9-point calibration, average calibration error 0.37º). The practice session consisted of two tasks. First, participants familiarised themselves with the 16 referents: the characters’ depictions were sequentially presented centrally on screen, with their names written underneath. Participants’ task was to read out loud and remember the character’s names. This ensured that participants knew the referents’ appearances and names in order to minimise cognitive effort related to recognising the referents’ identities and retrieving their names during the main experiment. This procedure also helped to reduce potential ambiguity in naming referents (e.g., “маляр” (painter) – for the character “художник” (artist)). Second, participants practiced describing events similar to the ones they would later encounter in the main experimental session. Participants saw fourteen randomly selected events in an individually randomised order, with each picture depicting an event with one or two referents (previously practiced) and the event’s name in the infinitive form (e.g., “гнаться” (to chase)) written underneath. As before, participants were instructed to examine the event and read its name aloud. The purpose of the event practice session was to minimise the variability of potential lexical candidates for the event description (e.g., “ударить” (to strike),for “бить” (to hit) event).

Upon completion of the practice session, participants received instructions for the main part of the experiment. Participants were told that every trial would begin with the presentation of a black cross in the middle of the screen (until fixation was confirmed by the eye tracker) followed by a red circle (the cue for 500ms) in various locations, finally followed by the presentation of a picture stimulus (until participant pressed the space bar). The cue location corresponded to the subsequent position of one of the referents. Participants were instructed to look at the black cross, then, on appearance of the red circle, direct their gaze to it, wait for the event, and then describe the event aloud in one sentence mentioning both characters and their interaction. On completion of each trial (Fig.2), participants proceeded to the next trial by pressing the spacebar.

Data analysis

The audio recordings of participants’ responses were transcribed and responses were coded as follows: (0) Agent First or (1) Patient First. Produced passive voice sentences (N=6) were coded as Patient First sentences, as they were OVS. The responses that were not classifiable as (0) or (1) were coded as “other”. Erroneous and absent responses were coded as “error”. Overall, “other” and “error” accounted for less than 2% of the total responses.

According to the currently well-established practice we performed inferential analyses using Generalised Linear Mixed Effects Models (GLMM), as part of the lme4 package in R (R Core Team, https://www.R-project.org). The dependent variable of interest was the use of patient initial description (True = 1, False = 0). A binary logistic model was specified in the family argument of the glmer() function. The model included a full-factorial Cue Location (Agent, Patient) × Event Orientation (Left-to-right, Right-to-left) fixed effects design. All predictors were mean-centered using deviation-coding. We adopted the maximal random effects structure (Barr et al, 2013) justified by the design. We included in the model random correlations; by-subject and by-item random intercepts, by-subject and by-item random slopes for every main effect. These were included as both factors were within-subject and within-items. P-values were obtained via Likelihood Ratio Chi-Square (LRχ2) model comparisons.


Overall, 24 participants provided 1152 responses, 1131 of which were included into the analysis.The grand average intercept of the GLMM was estimated as −2.600 log odds units (SE = .289), which is well below zero (and in turn much smaller than 0.5 in probability space). Hence, patient-initial responses (13.5%) were greatly outnumbered by agent-initial responses (86.5%; see Table 1 for absolute counts), an expected result that is in line with previous experimental findings (Myachykov & Tomlin, 2008).

Figure 3 summarises the distribution of the patient-initial responses across experimental conditions. It is clear that, overall, there were more patient-first sentences in the patient-cued than in the agent-cued conditions. This was supported by a reliable main effect of Cue Location (LRχ2(1) = 17.268, p< .001); the parameter estimations clarified that there were more patient-initial sentences when the patient referent was primed (b=-.845, SE=.200, p< .001). We also registered the main effect of Event Orientation (LRχ2(1) = 5.95, p = .01): there were more patient-initial responses when the agent was on the right side (b=-.500, SE=.198, p< .001). Notably, there was no significant interaction between Cue Location and Event Orientation (LRχ2(1) = 2.86, p =.09; b=-.694, SE=.398, p= .08).

In order to verify whether our sample size was adequate, we ran a post hoc observed power analysis. Results showed that this sample size was enough to register a moderate size priming effect (Mahowald et al., 2016). Considering the GLMM parameter estimates effect sizes of our factors of Cue location and Event Orientation were as log odds of -.845 and −0.500, respectively. Thus, the general odds ratio effect sizes for these effects were exp(0.845) = 2.32 and exp(0.500)=1.64. Average syntactic priming effects with and without lexical overlap reported in Mahowald et al. (2016) are 3.26 and 1.67 respectively. So, our main effect sizes are within or very close to general benchmarks of similar studies.





Table 1. Probabilities of Agent versus Patient responses across all participants and trials (absolute cell counts in brackets) by levels of Event Orientation (Agent Left, Agent Right) and Cue Location (Agent, Patient).

Event Orientation

Cue Location


Agent Initial

Patient Initial

Agent Left



.908 (256)

.092 (26)




.868 (242)

.132 (37)

Agent Right



.899 (256)

.101 (29)




.779 (222)

.221 (63)


Fig. 3. Proportion of Patient-Initial responses. Error bars represent Standard Errors.





In this study, we have investigated the combined effects of perceptual priming and event orientation on the speaker’s word-order choices in Russian. Evidences suggest that perceptual priming of attention affects syntactic choice of the speaker. However, it is still unknown whether different word-order flexibility languages rely on similar mechanisms. Here, we collected data from Russian native speakers in order to assess the existence of perceptual priming effects on syntactic choice in Russian. Important addition in our study was the inclusion of event orientation in the analysis, which allowed us comparisons between bottom-up (cueing) and top-down (event orientation) priming effects. Below we discuss implications of our study.

First, we have replicated the previously reported perceptual priming effect (Myachykov & Tomlin, 2008) in a study with improved methodology and better experimental controls. We have also demonstrated that event orientation influenced syntactic choice via imposing an additional bias on the ordering of the constituents driven by the canonical left-to-right event scanning. The latter is evident as there were more patient-initial sentences when the agent was presented on the right side of the depicted event. According to some researchers, this effect might reflect the general left-to-right scanning mechanism associated with the automated writing and reading habits (e.g., Dobel et al, 2007; Santiago et al., 2010; Tversky, 2011; Esaulova et al, 2018). We did not register a reliable interaction between Cue Location and Event orientation, which suggests that the word-order choice in Russian can accommodate either the attentional (bottom-up) bias or the event orientation (top-down), but not both of these biases simultaneously. What can possibly happen is that the priming effect of the visual cue diminishes by the time structure coding occurs, while the priming effect of event orientation is present throughout all production stages due to the presence of the target stimuli picture throughout trial.

Overall, the results of the study support the hypothesis that perceptual priming influences constituent ordering but not the choice of syntactic structure in Russian. Passive-voice responses were almost non-existent in the patient-cued condition while participants still consistently encoded the cued referent as the initial element of the produced sentence. What is left unknown is whether this mechanism is similar to that of English language. As we have used Patient-initial sentences in comparison to Passive voice sentences used in English language studies, the similarity of the implied mechanism is questionable and further research is therefore necessary. Another open question is which attention network is affecting syntactic choice? This may possibly be addressed by using an Attention Network Test (Fan et al., 2005) followed in combination with stimulation of the related brain areas.