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Nodes and networks in the neural architecture for language
Nov 20, 2014
In a recent paper in Current Opinion in Neurobiology Peter Hagoort presented his view on the neural architecture of the human language system. more >
New post-doc: Zheng Ye
Nov 10, 2014
Temporal connectives such as ‘before’ and ‘after’ give us the freedom to describe a sequence of events in different orders. more >
PhD project: Bohan Dai
Oct 21, 2014
In a multi-speaker context, humans have the ability to recognize and follow an individual speaker while ignoring other speakers and background noise. Listeners can even do this when the target speech is presented together with other sounds that are very similar, or the when target sound is more difficult to identify than other heard sounds. This remarkable human ability – the so called "cocktail party effect"– has been studied for over half a century. more >
What happens in the brain when your tongue twists?
Oct 07, 2014
Producing language is one of the most common actions we perform. Like most actions, when we speak we rarely make mistakes, yet sometimes we produce speech errors such as saying the wrong word or mixing up the sounds in words. How do we monitor ourselves to detect when such errors occur? more >
New PhD students and post-docs starting in the NBL lab
Sep 30, 2014
From autumn 2014 Daniel Sharoh and Bohan Dai will be working on their PhD projects and Monique Flecken and Geertje van Bergen will join our lab to execute their VENI projects. Kirsten Weber will come back to the lab as a post-doc. more >
Looking back on SNL2014
Sep 09, 2014
A week ago, the Society for Neurobiology of Language conference 2014 took place in Amsterdam. Today we look back on the conference by means of interviews with researchers who participated. more >
Multiple research positions at the Neurobiology of Language department
Sep 08, 2014
I am offering a number of junior and senior research positions in my research group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). more >
SNL2014 day 3: What is 'Neurobiology of Language' anyway?
Sep 08, 2014
On the third day of the Society for Neurobiology of Language a debate titled: “what is ‘neurobiology of language’ anyway?” was on the program. At first glance, this seems a strange question, given that the researchers that were present have committed their lives to exactly this field of research. Does this mean that they actually don’t have a clue what it is all about? more >
SNL2014 day 3: Michael Tomasello about the evolution of communication
Sep 08, 2014
Michael Tomasello is a developmental psychologist and director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. He researches differences between human and primate communication. In his lecture at the Society for Neurobiology of Language conference in Amsterdam, he argued that at an early stage of development, children already acquire communicative skills that can never be learned by primates. more >
SNL2014 day 2: Constance Scharff on songbirds
Sep 07, 2014
People are not the only animals that communicate through language. On the second day of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, professor Constance Scharff (Freie Universität Berlin) gave a lecture in which she discussed the similarities between the human language system and that of the zebra finch, a songbird, to understand more about the relationship between language and the brain. more >
SNL2014 day 2: Pascal Fries’ Fairy Tale
Sep 01, 2014
Pascal Fries has an almost mythological status at the Donders institute. He worked there from 2001 to 2009 and then moved to Franfurt to start his own research center, the Ernst Strüngmann Institute for Neuroscience (in cooperation with the Max Planck Society). Many stories exist about him: that he already became a professor at the age of 30 (not completely true, it 'only' happened when he was 36), that he only published in the best scientific journals (true) and that he is a genius, brilliant, a miracle child. more >
Arjen Stolk defends PhD thesis
Sep 01, 2014
On september 2nd 2014, Arjen Stolk will defend his PhD thesis titled 'On the generation of shared symbols'. more >
SNL2014 day 1: Pim Levelt on the 'sleeping beauties' of psycholinguistics
Aug 28, 2014
The Society for the Neurobiology of Language meeting held at the 'Beurs van Berlage' in Amsterdam from August 27-29 was opened yesterday with a keynote lecture by the Netherlands' most famous psycholinguist: Pim Levelt. more >
SNL 2014 in Amsterdam starts today!
Aug 27, 2014
Today is the first day of the sixth annual Society for the Neurobiology of Language conference, this year held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, partly organized by our Neurobiology of Language department. You can follow the meeting on Twitter via @SNLmtg or hashtag #snlmtg2014 and we will provide you with blog posts live from the conference. more >
VENI grants awarded to NBL alumni
Aug 13, 2014
In addition to the VENI grant that has been awarded to current NBL lab member Tineke Snijders, two NBL alumni obtained a prestigious Veni grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) as well: Caroline Junge and Tessa van Leeuwen. more >
The Society for the Neurobiology of Language is coming to Amsterdam
Aug 08, 2014
The annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language is the largest and most important meeting for researchers with an interest in the neural underpinnings of human language. This year's meeting features a number of important contributions from members of the MPI. more >
VENI grant awarded to Tineke Snijders
Jul 29, 2014
How do babies make sense of all the sounds they hear? Before they are able to link sound to meaning, they need to learn the locations of word boundaries in continuous speech. more >
Symposium: Towards a neuroscience of mutual understanding
Jul 21, 2014
On September 1, 2014 Arjen Stolk, Peter Hagoort and Ivan Toni organize a symposium on mechanisms of mutual understanding. more >
Roel Willems and Franziska Hartung visit the new MPI in Frankfurt
Jul 09, 2014
Why do people perceive music and literature as varying in their beauty based on factors such as culture, society, historical period and individual taste? In 2012 the new Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics has been founded to answer questions regarding how humans perceive, experience and evaluate aesthetics. more >
The role of beat gesture and pitch accent in semantic processing
Jun 30, 2014
In face-to-face communication, speakers often emphasize information with verbal (e.g., pitch accent, clefts) and nonverbal cues (e.g., hand gestures, facial expressions). The present study investigated how listeners integrate pitch accent and beat gesture (i.e., small baton-like hand movements produced along with the rhythmical pulsation of speech) to comprehend a message. more >
The influence of communicative context on syntactic priming
Jun 02, 2014
If I describe a scene by saying 'the mistress is kissed by the man' (using a sentence in the passive voice) you are more likely to describe the following event with another passive sentence, like 'the man is hit by his wife', rather than an active sentence such as 'the wife hits her husband'. more >
Irina Simanova defends PhD on May 12
May 09, 2014
Throughout human history, people have always been intrigued by the idea of understanding the thoughts of others without using speech or signs. In the 19th and 20th century mind reading was even studied by empirical psychologists. While this early work remained in the realm of pseudoscience, the idea has not become less attractive. Can humans acquire the ability to read minds? more >
Synchronization of speech and gesture
May 05, 2014
Language and action systems are highly interlinked. A critical piece of evidence is that speech and its accompanying gestures are well synchronized temporally. The underlying mechanism responsible for the synchronization is still under debate. more >
MPI scientific retreat
Apr 14, 2014
From March 31st until April 2nd 2014, six members of the Neurobiology of Language department attended the MPI retreat in Münster. At this annual retreat, representatives of the different MPI departments join forces to think about the future of the institute. more >
PhD project: Alina Lartseva
Apr 07, 2014
About 1 in 100 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some of these children will need intensive support and care for their whole life, and some of them will learn how to overcome their difficulties, and will be able to study, work, live independently. Despite its relatively high prevalence, we still know very little about what causes autism, what cognitive functions are impaired or how we can treat it. more >
The influence of communicative intent on the kinematics of pointing gestures
Mar 21, 2014
In everyday communication, people not only use speech but also hand gestures to convey information. One intriguing question in gesture research has been why gestures take the specific form they do. more >
Peter Hagoort becomes member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen
Mar 10, 2014
Peter Hagoort has been elected a member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities). more >
PhD project: Danchao Cai
Mar 07, 2014
Some people are born with perfect/absolute pitch. What’s the neurological and genetic basis behind this? more >
Call to scientists: stop excluding left-handed people from scientific studies!
Feb 14, 2014
Left-handed people really do have different brains and genes from right-handed people. Yet left-handed people are almost never included as study subjects in scientific research. Therefore in an article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Roel Willems and his colleagues from the Donders Institute and Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen call for more research into left-handed people. The article was published online on 12 February 2014. more >
PhD project: Nietzsche Lam
Feb 12, 2014
When reading or listening to a sentence (in your native language), have you ever stopped to consider the complexity of this seemingly effortless task? more >
Nijmegen Lectures 2014 by Russell Gray: No Miracles!
Jan 22, 2014
Nijmegen Lectures 2014 by Russell Gray: No Miracles! A Darwinian view of the evolution of cognition, language and culture. This year's Nijmegen Lectures will be given by Russell Gray (University of Auckland, New Zealand). Professor Gray will lead three days of lectures and discussion on the theme of evolutionary approaches to cognition, language and culture. more >
PhD project: Jolien Francken
Jan 16, 2014
How do we perceive the world? I cannot look into your head, but in my experience I see and hear everything around me, and I perceive the things like they really are. But is this in fact true? more >
Frontiers in Neuroscience for Young Minds
Jan 02, 2014
At the SfN meeting 2013 a new scientific journal has been launched with an editorial board of kids. Currently, the current issue features articles about “The Brain and Friends” and “The Brain and Talking/Texting”. more >
Research staff position at the Department Neurobiology of Language
Dec 16, 2013
The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) is offering a research staff position in the field of Neurobiology of Language. more >
Everything you always wanted to know about language
Dec 04, 2013
Is there something you've always wanted to know about language? We might have an answer! The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics has launched an initiative that aims to provide answers to questions about various aspects of language asked by people outside of the language researcher community. Visit our Q&A page to view the latest questions and answers, learn more about the initiative, or submit your own question. more >
Recognizing the emotional valence of person names
Nov 25, 2013
When you see or hear the name 'van Gogh', how quickly can you judge whether you like him or not? In order to make your judgment, you first need to recognize this name, then identify the person who bears this name, and finally access the associated information of this person (e.g., van Gogh is a famous Dutch post-impressionist painter.). more >
PhD project: Lotte Schoot
Nov 11, 2013
In most of the studies within our department, we investigate the brain responses of speakers who are using language without actually talking to someone. Or, when we study language comprehension processes, we look at the brains of listeners who have no idea who is talking to them. more >
We're at the Society for Neurobiology of Language conference
Nov 08, 2013
From 6-8 November, the fifth annual meeting of the SNL takes place in San Diego, CA. Many NBL researchers present their work here. more >
PhD project: Gwilym Lockwood
Oct 28, 2013
In my research, I hope to bridge two fields - sound-symbolism and synaesthesia - which have been sadly neglected until relatively recently. more >
Miriam Kos defends PhD on October 23
Oct 21, 2013
Individuals vary in the way they process semantic and syntactic aspects of language, Miriam Kos (Neurobiology of Language Department) discovered in her dissertation "On the waves of language - Electrophysiological reflections on semantic and syntactic processing". She will defend her thesis on October 23rd at 12.30, in the Radboud University Aula. more >
Sarah Dolscheid defends PhD on October 22
Oct 16, 2013
Language can have an impact on how people think about musical pitch, Sarah Dolscheid (MPI's Neurobiology of Language Department) discovered in her dissertation 'High pitches and thick voices: The role of language in space-pitch associations'. She will defend her thesis on October 22 at 12:30, in the Radboud University Aula. more >
Lin Wang investigates how our brain processes person names
Oct 07, 2013
I'm interested in the processing differences between person names and common nouns in the brain. Person names differ from common nouns in many aspects. more >
PhD project: Matthias Franken
Oct 01, 2013
My research is concerned with how people acquire new speech articulations. I investigate the mechanisms people use when learning the pronunciation of a new language. more >
Team proud of winning IMPRS essay contest
Sep 28, 2013
Richard Kunert (MPI), Suzanne Jongman (MPI), and Tineke Prins (CLS) of the IMPRS for Language Sciences won the essay contest with their essay 'Language, Nature and Nurture – Can genes settle the debate?' IMPRS PhD students had to write an essay for the course 'Current issues in the language sciences'. The jury unanimously selected their contribution, praising it as original, engaging and suitable for a general audience. more >
PhD project: Evelien Heyselaar
Sep 27, 2013
During the course of a conversation, your brain does a lot of things simultaneously: it needs to keep track of what your partner is saying, why they are saying it, and also simultaneously prepare what you are going to say so that as soon as your partner stops speaking you are ready with a response. more >
Four new PhD students starting in our group
Sep 19, 2013
From September 2013 Evelien Heyselaar, Lotte Schoot, Matthias Franken and Gwilym Lockwood will be working on their PhD projects. more >
A non-judgemental attitude to language
Sep 17, 2013
Implicit knowledge - "knowing how" - underlies much of our behavioral repertoire, for instance how to speak our native language. This behavior is incredibly complex and almost everyone master it, without being able to explain exactly how they do it or how they learned to do it. more >
A rough guide to mind-reading
Sep 12, 2013
We transmit nonverbal messages and read minds all the time, but what exactly is going on in our heads as we do so? more >
Summer lab visit: Franklin Chang
Sep 09, 2013
Research in psycholinguistics is often focused on particular aspects of language processing in relative isolation, e.g., adult production, comprehension or language acquisition. In his research, Franklin Chang (University of Liverpool) is working towards a framework that links these facets of language behavior in a unified theory (P-chain; Dell & Chang, in press). more >
PhD project: Richard Kunert
Sep 06, 2013
My research is concerned with something so difficult that in millions of years of evolution only humans have ever achieved it, something which is so easy that even toddlers can do it without much effort, something so widespread that no culture is known to exist without it: using language as well as music. more >
Neural mechanisms of communicative innovation
Aug 29, 2013
Our everyday conversations appear to revolve around our linguistic abilities. But closer inspection reveals that an effective conversation involves more than formulating grammatically correct and semantically coherent sentences. more >
PhD project: Ashley Lewis
Aug 20, 2013
My research is concerned with the electrophysiology of language processing. I investigate neuronal oscillations using EEG and MEG while participants are reading. more >
The MOUS project
Aug 13, 2013
The Neurobiology of Language Department recently started an ambitious multidisciplinary project called 'The Mother Of all Unification Studies', or MOUS for short. more >
Speech and music shape the listening brain
Aug 06, 2013
Speech and music are domains with different representations. Nonetheless, they both use sounds as their building blocks. An interesting question is whether experience or training with sounds in one domain can influence sound processing outside that particular domain. more >
MSc project in NBL group on story reading
Aug 01, 2013
Emiel van den Hoven will be a MSc student in the NBL group during the coming year. more >
The role of cognitive abilities and empathy on speech-accompanying gestures
Jul 30, 2013
When speaking, why do some people produce hand gestures more frequently than others? In a recent study, Mingyuan Chu and colleagues found that individual differences in gesture production is related to cognitive abilities and the level of empathy. more >
New websites for our research group
Jul 19, 2013
The Neurobiology of Language department will frequently update you about our research, new publications, PhD defenses, new lab members, and ongoing discussions. more >
We're looking for three new Research Assistants!
Jul 15, 2013
The position is for a min. of 19h and a max. of 32h per week. The starting date is between September and January. more >
PhD project: Franziska Hartung
Jul 01, 2013
I am interested in simulation and language processing. During the last decade, research on semantic representation and language comprehension has shown that people simulate the semantic content of words they hear, for example parts of the sensory motor system can become active when people are presented with action words. more >
Top scientists sound the alarm for Max Planck Institute
Jun 27, 2013
The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen is internationally considered as the leading institute for research into the foundations of human language. Yet, the Dutch government intends to cut their regular financial support by 10 percent. Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Peter Hagoort, Willem Levelt (Emer.), directors of the MPI for Psycholinguistics and Gerard Meijer, President of the Executive Board of Radboud University Nijmegen, sound the alarm. Their letter (see below) was published in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on June 25, 2013. more >
Thinking for speaking in early and late bilinguals
Jun 15, 2013
Do bilingual speakers of typologically different languages have multiple, perhaps conflicting, modes of thought, each corresponding to a particular language? more >
Study reveals how we understand what speakers mean
May 24, 2013
How do listeners understand someone's message, even if it is indirect and goes beyond the combined meaning of individual words? How do we work out what speakers really mean, a skill that is central for communication? Researchers of the MPI for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour discovered that listeners take the speaker's perspective, both on cognitive and affective levels. Their paper was recently published online in the Oxford journal Cerebral Cortex. more >
Spatio-temporal metaphors and mental representations of time
May 01, 2013
Many cultures talk about time in terms of space. However, the particular ways that time is spatialized differ acoss languages. more >
PhD project: Flora Vanlangendonck
Apr 15, 2013
Speaking is something you typically do with other people. Yet, you don’t talk to everyone in the same way all the time. more >
PhD-project: David Peeters
Apr 01, 2013
One of the most important functions of language is that it allows us to refer to the things in the world around us. We continuously do so, for instance by using spatial demonstratives in combination with a perfectly timed manual pointing gesture (“look at that guy!”). more >
New post-doc: Diana Dimitrova
Mar 15, 2013
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Neurobiology of Language Department (Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging) and in the Multilingualism Group (Centre for Language Studies). more >
Rapid interactions between lexical semantic and word form analysis during word recognition in context
Mar 01, 2013
During reading, people often actively predict what the next word is prior to seeing the word. How fast and at which level can the contextually driven anticipation influence the processing of the upcoming word? more >
PhD project: Jolien ten Velden
Feb 15, 2013
For most people speech feels like an effortless process. We think of what we want to say and the words flow out of our mouths. Our speech, however, is usually full of errors. more >
Embodied Cognition: Taking the next step
Feb 01, 2013
How does our body relate to language understanding? Embodied cognition argues that thinking is not confined to what happens in our heads, and that the body plays a crucial role in cognition. more >
Human Brain Project wins largest science funding in history
Jan 28, 2013
The European Commission has officially announced the selection of the Human Brain Project (HBP) as one of its two FET Flagship projects. The new project will federate European efforts to address one of the greatest challenges of modern science: understanding the human brain. Peter Hagoort, director of the MPI for Psycholinguistics and Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, is among the scientists who contribute to the daring enterprise. more >
Less is not more: Neural responses to missing and superfluous accents in context
Jan 15, 2013
When speakers accent repeated instead of new focus information in context, listeners detect the mismatch immediately and experience semantic processing difficulties (N400). more >
The suppression of repetition enhancement
Jan 01, 2013
Repetition suppression is the reduction of neural responses to the repetition of stimulus features. Repetition suppression in the BOLD response as measured in fMRI studies is generally thought to underlie behavioral facilitation effects like priming. more >
Minister awards cheques for Gravity Programme 2012
Dec 20, 2012
On December 14, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker distributed the cheques to representatives of the six consortia of excellence that were awarded funding for their Gravity Programme 2012. The award ceremony took place at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in The Hague. more >
Implicit acquisition of grammars
Dec 15, 2012
A recent hypothesis in empirical brain research on language is that the fundamental difference between animal and human communication systems is captured by the distinction between what kind of sequences these different species can process. more >
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Self-monitoring in speech production
Dec 01, 2012
To prevent errors and choose the right words to say we must constantly monitor ourselves while we speak. Classic theories of monitoring have suggested that we monitor ourselves through our speech comprehension system. More recent accounts, however, suggest that we may be able to self-monitor via the detecting when two incompatible responses are simultaneously active. Dan Acheson, Peter Hagoort, and colleagues, address this issue in a paper published in Brain and Language. more >
Information processing gradient in the frontal lobes
Nov 15, 2012
In a recent paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Julia Uddén and Jörg Bahlmann suggest an information processing gradient in the frontal lobe. more >
27,6 million euros for Language in Interaction consortium
Nov 15, 2012
The MPI for Psycholinguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen (Donders Institute, Centre for Language Studies) and University of Amsterdam (Institute for Language, Logic and Computation) have been awarded funding of €27,6 million for their joint proposal for fundamental research on language from genetic building blocks all the way to social interaction. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded consortia of world leading researchers in the Netherlands. These subsidies are intended to help ensure that first-rate proposals bear fruit as world-class research. more >
Peter Hagoort becomes member of Academia Europaea
Nov 15, 2012
Peter Hagoort, director of the MPI for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, has been invited by the Academia Europaea to become a member of the Academy of Europe. Hagoort's membership will officially start in September 2013, when the Academy meets in Poland. more >
Run first read later?
Nov 01, 2012
When we read, various meanings of a word are activated. Is the emotional meaning activated first, to ensure fast response for survival purpose? Or do we need to know what it is before we can evaluate the good or bad of it? more >
The neurobiology of conversation
Oct 15, 2012
In a review recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Laura Menenti, Martin Pickering, and Simon Garrod review neural evidence for the interactive alignment account of dialogue. more >
Syntax is shared between speaking and listening
Oct 01, 2012
Do speaking and listening have a lot in common? Is there one integrated system for speaking and listening to sentences or are there two separate systems? In a recent paper, Segaert and colleagues focused on syntactic processing, a crucial aspect of both speaking and listing, necessary to determine the syntactic structure of a sentence. more >
Individual variation in semantic processing
Sep 15, 2012
It is well-known that, within ERP paradigms of sentence processing, semantically anomalous words elicit N400 effects. Less clear, however, is what happens after the N400. Miriam Kos and colleagues address this in a recent publication in Frontiers in Psychology. more >
Genetic effects on language processing
Sep 01, 2012
The genetic FOXP2-CNTNAP2 pathway has been shown to be involved in the language capacity. Miriam Kos and colleagues investigated whether a common variant of CNTNAP2 (rs7794745) is relevant for syntactic and semantic processing in the general population. more >
Neurobiology of Language

What is the neurobiological infrastructure for the uniquely human capacity for language? The focus of the Neurobiology of Language Department is on the study of language production, language comprehension, and language acquisition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Read more...

Director: Peter Hagoort

Secretary: Ina Grevel

 

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