You are here: Home MPI's Paul Hömke will defend his thesis

MPI's Paul Hömke will defend his thesis

On Friday January 25, 2019, at 10.30, Paul Hömke will defend his thesis entitled “The face in face-to-face communication: signals of understanding and non-understanding” in the Aula of Radboud University. As with all defenses, it is a public event and everybody is welcome to join.
MPI's Paul Hömke will defend his thesis

Paul Hömke

Unlike most other animals, humans tend to face each other in everyday communication. This allows us to rely on facial expressions in communication. Hömke investigated the face of the listener in face-to-face communication, specifically blinking and brow movements. He found that long blinks are used as a communicative signal of understanding, conveying ‘I’ve received enough information for current purposes, please go on’. Listeners’ furrowed brow, on the other hand, was shown to signal a lack of understanding, conveying ‘I’ve not received enough information for current purposes, please clarify’. Closing the eyelids by blinking (as if having seen enough) and furrowing the eyebrows (as if not seeing clearly) point to a metaphorical use of the muscles surrounding the eyes, signalling sufficient or insufficient understanding. Thus, in everyday social interaction, it is not only the eyes themselves, but crucially, the regions surrounding the eyes, that serve as windows to the mind.

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.



Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Marjolein Scherphuis