Sophie Slaats


I’m a PhD-student working in the Psychology of Language department under supervision of dr. Andrea E. martin, dr. Hans Rutger Bosker, and prof. dr. Antje S. Meyer. My main interest is the (online) emergence of linguistic structure in the brain, during language processing as well as during acquisition. I focus on abstraction, hierarchy, and productivity. How do mental representations of the auditory input become abstract, i.e. no longer tied to the specific acoustic waveform? How does the brain infer hierarchical structure from input that acoustically has only sequential properties? And how are productive, linguistic rules learned from these processed representations? Having started in September 2019, I’m currently conceptualizing and operationalizing my project.

Before starting at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, I was trained as a linguist during my BAs in Linguistics & Phonetics and Spanish Language & Culture, and the research MA Linguistics at Utrecht University. My thesis project, which I developed under supervision of prof. dr. Frank Wijnen, dealt with the electrophysiological difference between concrete, item-bound versus abstract rule encoding in artificial grammar learning. In 2019, I completed the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience of Language at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL, San Sebastián, Spain).

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