Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
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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Devanna P.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2017

Understanding the genetic factors underlying neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders is a major challenge given their prevalence and potential severity for quality of life. While large-scale genomic screens have made major advances in this area, for many disorders the genetic underpinnings are complex and poorly understood. To date the field has focused predominantly on protein coding variation, but given the importance of tightly controlled gene expression for normal brain development and disorder, variation that affects non-coding regulatory regions of the genome is likely to play an important role in these phenotypes. Herein we show the importance of 3 prime untranslated region (3'UTR) non-coding regulatory variants across neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. We devised a pipeline for identifying and functionally validating putatively pathogenic variants from next generation sequencing (NGS) data. We applied this pipeline to a cohort of children with severe specific language impairment (SLI) and identified a functional, SLI-associated variant affecting gene regulation in cells and post-mortem human brain. This variant and the affected gene (ARHGEF39) represent new putative risk factors for SLI. Furthermore, we identified 3′UTR regulatory variants across autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder NGS cohorts demonstrating their impact on neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Our findings show the importance of investigating non-coding regulatory variants when determining risk factors contributing to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. In the future, integration of such regulatory variation with protein coding changes will be essential for uncovering the genetic causes of complex neurological disorders and the fundamental mechanisms underlying health and disease.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 14 March 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.30. © 2017 The Author(s)

Levinson S.C.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Levinson S.C.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Gray R.D.,University of Auckland
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2012

Computational methods have revolutionized evolutionary biology. In this paper we explore the impact these methods are now having on our understanding of the forces that both affect the diversification of human languages and shape human cognition. We show how these methods can illuminate problems ranging from the nature of constraints on linguistic variation to the role that social processes play in determining the rate of linguistic change. Throughout the paper we argue that the cognitive sciences should move away from an idealized model of human cognition, to a more biologically realistic model where variation is central. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Bastos A.M.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Schoffelen J.-M.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Schoffelen J.-M.,Radboud University Nijmegen
Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience | Year: 2016

Oscillatory neuronal activity may provide a mechanism for dynamic network coordination. Rhythmic neuronal interactions can be quantified using multiple metrics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This tutorial will review and summarize current analysis methods used in the field of invasive and non-invasive electrophysiology to study the dynamic connections between neuronal populations. First, we review metrics for functional connectivity, including coherence, phase synchronization, phase-slope index, and Granger causality, with the specific aim to provide an intuition for how these metrics work, as well as their quantitative definition. Next, we highlight a number of interpretational caveats and common pitfalls that can arise when performing functional connectivity analysis, including the common reference problem, the signal to noise ratio problem, the volume conduction problem, the common input problem, and the sample size bias problem. These pitfalls will be illustrated by presenting a set of MATLAB-scripts, which can be executed by the reader to simulate each of these potential problems. We discuss how these issues can be addressed using current methods. © 2016 Bastos and Schoffelen.

Graham S.A.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Fisher S.E.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Fisher S.E.,Donders Institute for Brain
Current Opinion in Neurobiology | Year: 2013

Researchers are beginning to uncover the neurogenetic pathways that underlie our unparalleled capacity for spoken language. Initial clues come from identification of genetic risk factors implicated in developmental language disorders. The underlying genetic architecture is complex, involving a range of molecular mechanisms. For example, rare protein-coding mutations of the FOXP2 transcription factor cause severe problems with sequencing of speech sounds, while common genetic risk variants of small effect size in genes like CNTNAP2, ATP2C2 and CMIP are associated with typical forms of language impairment. In this article, we describe how investigations of these and other candidate genes, in humans, animals and cellular models, are unravelling the connections between genes and cognition. This depends on interdisciplinary research at multiple levels, from determining molecular interactions and functional roles in neural cell-biology all the way through to effects on brain structure and activity. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Mitterer H.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance | Year: 2011

Four visual-world experiments, in which listeners heard spoken words and saw printed words, compared an optimal-perception account with the theory of phonological underspecification. This theory argues that default phonological features are not specified in the mental lexicon, leading to asymmetric lexical matching: Mismatching input (pin) activates lexical entries with underspecified coronal stops (tin), but lexical entries with specified labial stops (pin) are not activated by mismatching input (tin). The eye-tracking data failed to show such a pattern. Although words that were phonologically similar to the spoken target attracted more looks than did unrelated distractors, this effect was symmetric in Experiment 1 with minimal pairs (tin- pin) and in Experiments 2 and 3 with words with an onset overlap (peacock- teacake). Experiment 4 revealed that /t/-initial words were looked at more frequently if the spoken input mismatched only in terms of place than if it mismatched in place and voice, contrary to the assumption that /t/ is unspecified for place and voice. These results show that speech perception uses signal-driven information to the fullest, as was predicted by an optimal perception account. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

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.

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.

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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