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Welcome to the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

It’s easier to learn words that sound like what they mean
Feb 11, 2016
Over a lifetime, we learn tens of thousands of words. What makes some words easier to learn than others? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics taught Japanese words to Dutch students and found that ideophones —words that sound like what they mean— are easier to learn than regular words. This may be due to universally available associations between sound and meaning. more >
Huib Kouwenhoven defends thesis on situational variation in non-native communication
Feb 08, 2016
Do speakers of a second language adapt their language to the situational context? In his doctoral thesis, Huib Kouwenhoven investigated whether speech context (formal or informal) impacted the language use of non-native speakers. Huib will defend his thesis “Situational communication in non-native variation” on February 10th. more >
Difficult grammar affects music experience
Feb 03, 2016
Listening to music while reading affects how you hear the music. Language scientists and neuroscientists from Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics published this finding in Royal Society Open Science. more >
Avatars for language science: How virtual reality enables more realistic experiments
Jan 27, 2016
Avatars are all around us: they represent real people online and colonise new worlds in the movies. In science, their role has been more limited. But avatars can be extremely useful in linguistics, new research shows. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics use virtual avatars to investigate how real people behave in interaction. The method makes it possible to study with great precision how people adjust to each other in conversation. more >
Nijmegen Lectures 2016 by David Poeppel
Jan 19, 2016
This year's Nijmegen Lectures will be delivered by David Poeppel on January 20-22 under the title "(Un)conventional wisdom: Three neurobiological provocations about brain and language". more >
Jolien Francken defends dissertation on language-perception interactions
Jan 13, 2016
Does language influence how we perceive the world? In her doctoral dissertation, Jolien Francken investigated whether and how language colours the information provided by our senses. She will defend her thesis entitled 'Viewing the world through language-tinted glasses: Elucidating the neural mechanisms of language-perception interactions' on January 14th. more >
Never say no… How the brain interprets the pregnant pause in conversation
Jan 06, 2016
When you invite a friend to dinner, you probably expect her to accept the invitation, but what if she doesn’t answer straight away? A new study from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics recorded the brain activity of participants as they listened to recorded conversations and found that listeners do indeed generally expect positive responses to such questions. However, when respondents delay their answers, expectations for negative responses increase. more >
Bat genes could provide fresh clues about the neurobiology of human speech
Jan 04, 2016
Although humans are the only species with the ability to use sophisticated spoken language, some of the characteristic features of language are also present in the communication systems of other animals. A new study led by the Neurogenetics of Vocal Communication group at the MPI for Psycholinguistics shows that bats in particular could provide novel insights into the biological basis of human language. more >
Max Planck Institute
About MPI


The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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The Netherlands

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