My research focuses on (individual differences in) language processing in the brain, both in the adult and during infant language acquisition. In my work I have used a combination of different neuroimaging techniques (EEG, fMRI, MEG), in both typical and clinical populations.
During their first years of life children learn their native language, while at the same time their brains are rapidly developing. How do children develop language in the (maturing) language-ready brain? What brain mechanisms underlie the acquisition of language? These are questions I address in my research.
Currently I am investigating the effect of cortical speech tracking on language acquisition. Do infants' brains resonate with the rhythm of speech, and are individual differences herein related to their word segmentation abilities and their later language development?
During my PhD at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour (Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging) I investigated the brain network involved in sentence comprehension using diverse neuroimaging methods (fMRI, MEG, connectivity). In 2010 I defended my dissertation “More than words – neural and genetic dynamics of syntactic unification” cum laude. In my postdoc in Utrecht I went on to study neural oscillations and entrainment to visual stimuli in autism using EEG, exploring the world of cognitive neuroscience further within a more developmental and clinical setting. From 2012-2014, in a bridging role between the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) in Nijmegen, I have been helping researchers from CLS to answer linguistic questions with neuroimaging studies. In 2014 I received a Veni grant from NWO to study individual differences in neural sensitivity to rhythm in infants, and its relation to language acquisition. Since 2018 I have been working as a Senior Investigator in the Language Development Department of the MPI, further exploring the brain mechanisms underlying the learning of language.