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Opening of the Institute’s new central area: the ‘Common Ground’

On June 29th, the new central area ‘the Common Ground’ was opened during the annual internal event ‘MPI Proudly Presents’. To stimulate the interdisciplinary character within the Institute, the space has been created for scientific exchange: to interact, work, or enjoy lunch indoors or outside on a new terrace. Also during the event the First Levelt Innovation grant was awarded to PhD students Dick van den Broek, Marvin Uhlmann and Midas Anijs.
Opening of the Institute’s new central area: the ‘Common Ground’

With five departments working on diverse areas covering genetics, neurobiology, psychology, development, linguistics, and anthropology, MPI scientists depend on physical spaces, referred to as their ‘common ground’, in which members of the different fields can interact with each other. For this purpose reconstruction of the central sector of the Institute started in March 2017. The reconstruction included a major renovation to the central hall, cafeteria, and reallocation of the original library to an area of communication and open workspace, which was extended with a new terrace.


Since the majority of the original library was converted, Karin Kastens, Head of the Library, had the honor of officially opening the Common Ground.


Proudly Presents

The opening took place during the event 'MPI Proudly Presents': a yearly event at which scientists from all departments get the chance to share their most exciting findings with their colleagues, as each department nominates a number of speakers to give presentations that are accessible to everyone. Managing Director Peter Hagoort stated in his concluding remarks: “We can be proud of our research. I do not know any other institute in the world where such a wide range of language research, from genetics to the evolution of language, is being executed.” 

First Levelt Innovation grant

A further highlight of the day was the award of the First Levelt Innovation grant. This funding scheme provides support for cutting-edge interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research ventures that are not part of the researchers' core projects. 

This year's winner of the award was the team of Dick van den Broek, Marvin Uhlmann (both Neurobiology of Language Department) and Midas Anijs (Neurogenetics of Vocal  Communication Group) with their project titled "From genes to language: How CTNAP2 affects sentence processing in human neural networks". As Pim Levelt explained in his laudatio, this highly ambitious project promises to make a giant step forward in theoretical thinking and modelling of the effects of a language-related gene on neurodynamics. The team plans to grow real neural nets from human neural stem cells and compare the knock out and control generated nets.


Levelt congratulated the applicants: "You don't fantasize about these miniature nets, but thoroughly measure their dendritic and synaptic anatomy and functioning. It is these existing network features that you will model computationally. That model can then be used to test functions, maybe even linguistic functions of these neural nets. A wonderful proposal. Congratulations!"

About MPI

This is the 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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