The Cultural Brain

The Cultural Brain

Within the Cultural Brain research group, we investigate how cultural inventions – such as written words, numbers, music, and belief systems – shape our mind and brain from the day we are born.

Our research is divided into three themes (the Literate Brain, the Predictive Brain, and the Multimodal Brain), each of which provides us with a unique window for exploring the culturally-shaped mind.

We use behavioural measures, functional and structural neuroimaging techniques, and computational modelling to help us answer the central question: To what extent does culture determine what it means to think as a human?

At the Cultural Brain research group, we also have a dedicated website where we publish detailed, up-to-date information about our current projects. Here you can also find out more about our research themes, recent news and publications, and group members.

This research group is part of the Psychology of Language Department 


Falk Huettig

Senior Investigator
Psychology of Language Department
+31 24 3521374
Falk [dot] Huettig [at] mpi [dot] nl
Research themes

Our research projects generally fall into one of three themes:

  • The Literate Brain
  • The Predictive Brain
  • The Multimodal Brain


To find out more about each of these themes as well as read about our latest research projects, you can either visit our Projects page or visit our dedicated Cultural Brain website.


The results of our work are often reported on by media outlets and in scientific journals. The selection below will give you a quick glimpse into the kind of press coverage our research receives. For a more comprehensive list, please visit the News page of our Cultural Brain website.

Culture shapes the brain (Max Planck Society Newsroom, 2018)

Large-scale replication study challenges key evidence for the pro-active reading brain (Science Daily, 2018)

Can Stimulating a Nerve in the Ear Make You a Whiz in Mandarin Class? (Scientific American, 2017)

Learning to read and write alters brain wiring within months, even for adults (Washington Post, 2017)



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