Nijmegen, Netherlands

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics a research institute situated on the campus of Radboud University Nijmegen located in Nijmegen, Gelderland, the Netherlands. Founded in 1980, it is the only institution in the world entirely dedicated to psycholinguistics, and is also one of only three among a total of 90 within the Max Planck Society to be located outside Germany. The Nijmegen-based institute currently occupies 5th position in the Ranking Web of World Research Centers among all Max Planck institutes . It currently employs about 135 people. Wikipedia.

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Stivers T.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Journal of Pragmatics | Year: 2010

This article, part of a 10 language comparative project on question-response sequences, discusses these sequences in American English conversation. The data are video-taped spontaneous naturally occurring conversations involving two to five adults. Relying on these data I document the basic distributional patterns of types of questions asked (polar, Q-word or alternative as well as sub-types), types of social actions implemented by these questions (e.g., repair initiations, requests for confirmation, offers or requests for information), and types of responses (e.g., repetitional answers or yes/. no tokens). I show that declarative questions are used more commonly in conversation than would be suspected by traditional grammars of English and questions are used for a wider range of functions than grammars would suggest. Finally, this article offers distributional support for the idea that responses that are better " fitted" with the question are preferred. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Hagoort P.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Hagoort P.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Indefrey P.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Indefrey P.,Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Annual Review of Neuroscience | Year: 2014

A hallmark of human language is that we combine lexical building blocks retrieved from memory in endless new ways. This combinatorial aspect of language is referred to as unification. Here we focus on the neurobiological infrastructure for syntactic and semantic unification. Unification is characterized by a high-speed temporal profile including both prediction and integration of retrieved lexical elements. A meta-analysis of numerous neuroimaging studies reveals a clear dorsal/ventral gradient in both left inferior frontal cortex and left posterior temporal cortex, with dorsal foci for syntactic processing and ventral foci for semantic processing. In addition to core areas for unification, further networks need to be recruited to realize language-driven communication to its full extent. One example is the theory of mind network, which allows listeners and readers to infer the intended message (speaker meaning) from the coded meaning of the linguistic utterance. This indicates that sensorimotor simulation cannot handle all of language processing. © Copyright ©2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Levinson S.C.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Levinson S.C.,Donders Institute for Brain
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2016

Most language usage is interactive, involving rapid turn-taking. The turn-taking system has a number of striking properties: turns are short and responses are remarkably rapid, but turns are of varying length and often of very complex construction such that the underlying cognitive processing is highly compressed. Although neglected in cognitive science, the system has deep implications for language processing and acquisition that are only now becoming clear. Appearing earlier in ontogeny than linguistic competence, it is also found across all the major primate clades. This suggests a possible phylogenetic continuity, which may provide key insights into language evolution. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Dediu D.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Language is a hallmark of our species and understanding linguistic diversity is an area of major interest. Genetic factors influencing the cultural transmission of language provide a powerful and elegant explanation for aspects of the present day linguistic diversity and a window into the emergence and evolution of language. In particular, it has recently been proposed that linguistic tone-the usage of voice pitch to convey lexical and grammatical meaning-is biased by two genes involved in brain growth and development, ASPM and Microcephalin. This hypothesis predicts that tone is a stable characteristic of language because of its 'genetic anchoring'. The present paper tests this prediction using a Bayesian phylogenetic framework applied to a large set of linguistic features and language families, using multiple software implementations, data codings, stability estimations, linguistic classifications and outgroup choices. The results of these different methods and datasets show a large agreement, suggesting that this approach produces reliable estimates of the stability of linguistic data. Moreover, linguistic tone is found to be stable across methods and datasets, providing suggestive support for the hypothesis of genetic influences on its distribution. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Levinson S.C.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Topics in Cognitive Science | Year: 2012

Classical cognitive science was launched on the premise that the architecture of human cognition is uniform and universal across the species. This premise is biologically impossible and is being actively undermined by, for example, imaging genomics. Anthropology (including archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology) is, in contrast, largely concerned with the diversification of human culture, language, and biology across time and space-it belongs fundamentally to the evolutionary sciences. The new cognitive sciences that will emerge from the interactions with the biological sciences will focus on variation and diversity, opening the door for rapprochement with anthropology. © 2012 Cognitive Science Society, Inc..

Cronin K.A.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2012

Researchers have struggled to obtain a clear account of the evolution of prosocial behaviour despite a great deal of recent effort. The aim of this review is to take a brief step back from addressing the question of evolutionary origins of prosocial behaviour in order to identify contextual factors that are contributing to variation in the expression of prosocial behaviour and hindering progress towards identifying phylogenetic patterns. Most available data come from the Primate Order, and the choice of contextual factors to consider was informed by theory and practice, including the nature of the relationship between the potential donor and recipient, the communicative behaviour of the recipients, and features of the prosocial task including whether rewards are visible and whether the prosocial choice creates an inequity between actors. Conclusions are drawn about the facilitating or inhibiting impact of each of these factors on the expression of prosocial behaviour, and areas for future research are highlighted. Acknowledging the impact of these contextual features on the expression of prosocial behaviours should stimulate new research into the proximate mechanisms that drive these effects, yield experimental designs that better control for potential influences on prosocial expression, and ultimately allow progress towards reconstructing the evolutionary origins of prosocial behaviour. © 2012 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Konopka A.E.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Journal of Memory and Language | Year: 2012

The scope of linguistic planning, i.e., the amount of linguistic information that speakers prepare in advance for an utterance they are about to produce, is highly variable. Distinguishing between possible sources of this variability provides a way to discriminate between production accounts that assume structurally incremental and lexically incremental sentence planning. Two picture-naming experiments evaluated changes in speakers' planning scope as a function of experience with message structure, sentence structure, and lexical items. On target trials participants produced sentences beginning with two semantically related or unrelated objects in the same complex noun phrase. To manipulate familiarity with sentence structure, target displays were preceded by prime displays that elicited the same or different sentence structures. To manipulate ease of lexical retrieval, target sentences began either with the higher-frequency or lower-frequency member of each semantic pair. The results show that repetition of sentence structure can extend speakers' scope of planning from one to two words in a complex noun phrase, as indexed by the presence of semantic interference in structurally primed sentences beginning with easily retrievable words. Changes in planning scope tied to experience with phrasal structures favor production accounts assuming structural planning in early sentence formulation. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Levinson S.C.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Holler J.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2014

One reason for the apparent gulf between animal and human communication systems is that the focus has been on the presence or the absence of language as a complex expressive system built on speech. But language normally occurs embedded within an interactional exchange of multi-modal signals. If this larger perspective takes central focus, then it becomes apparent that human communication has a layered structure, where the layers may be plausibly assigned different phylogenetic and evolutionary origins--especially in the light of recent thoughts on the emergence of voluntary breathing and spoken language. This perspective helps us to appreciate the different roles that the different modalities play in human communication, as well as how they function as one integrated system despite their different roles and origins. It also offers possibilities for reconciling the 'gesture-first hypothesis' with that of gesture and speech having evolved together, hand in hand--or hand in mouth, rather--as one system. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Le Guen O.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Cognitive Science | Year: 2011

In previous analyses of the influence of language on cognition, speech has been the main channel examined. In studies conducted among Yucatec Mayas, efforts to determine the preferred frame of reference in use in this community have failed to reach an agreement (Bohnemeyer & Stolz, 2006; Levinson, 2003 vs. Le Guen, 2006, 2009). This paper argues for a multimodal analysis of language that encompasses gesture as well as speech, and shows that the preferred frame of reference in Yucatec Maya is only detectable through the analysis of co-speech gesture and not through speech alone. A series of experiments compares knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, performance on nonlinguistic tasks and gestures produced by men and women. The results show a striking gender difference in the knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, but an equal preference for a geocentric frame of reference in nonverbal tasks. In a localization task, participants used a variety of strategies in their speech, but they all exhibited a systematic preference for a geocentric frame of reference in their gestures. © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc..

Hagoort P.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Current Opinion in Neurobiology | Year: 2014

Current views on the neurobiological underpinnings of language are discussed that deviate in a number of ways from the classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model. More areas than Broca's and Wernicke's region are involved in language. Moreover, a division along the axis of language production and language comprehension does not seem to be warranted. Instead, for central aspects of language processing neural infrastructure is shared between production and comprehension. Three different accounts of the role of Broca's area in language are discussed. Arguments are presented in favor of a dynamic network view, in which the functionality of a region is co-determined by the network of regions in which it is embedded at particular moments in time. Finally, core regions of language processing need to interact with other networks (e.g. the attentional networks and the ToM network) to establish full functionality of language and communication. © 2014 .

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