Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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The Communicative Brain

The Communicative Brain

During face-to-face communication, language users need to integrate a myriad of signals to make sense of each other. Currently it remains an unresolved problem how language users neurally integrate these signals into a coherent message and communicate with each other in complex, natural face-to-face settings.

The goal of the Communicative Brain group, led by Linda Drijvers, is to understand how the brain integrates auditory and visual signals into a coherent message during multimodal, face-to-face communication. The core theory we want to test is whether and how oscillatory neural activity plays a role in integrating these different sources of information within and between conversational partners.

One of the questions we aim to answer within our group is how it is possible that conversational partners align with each other while they are communicating. One proposal would be that this alignment happens because intrinsic brain rhythms are operating in sync. Synchronisation might facilitate the binding of auditory and visual signals within one brain, and synchronizing brain waves between brains might facilitate alignment, mutual intelligibility and joint attention. However, it is currently unknown whether synchronization is sufficient or even required for communication.

Another question we are interested in is how listeners dynamically shift their attention to different signals and weigh their reliability during natural conversations. Simply put: How do listeners decide what is relevant when?

Finally, we are interested in how auditory and visual information is coupled in the brain, and how oscillatory brain rhythms might support this process.

We investigate these questions using new cutting-edge techniques, including (dual)-EEG, MEG, rapid invisible frequency tagging (RIFT) and detailed behavioural analyses of auditory and visual signals in (interactive) multimodal contexts.

Name: Linda Drijvers
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognition
Thomas van Aquinostraat 4
6525 GD Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognition
P.O. Box 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key publications
  • Seijdel, N., Marshall, T.R., Drijvers, L. (2022). Rapid Invisible Frequency Tagging (RIFT): a promising technique to study neural and cognitive processing using naturalistic paradigms. Cerebral Cortex.

  • Drijvers, L., Spaak, E., & Jensen, O. (2021). Rapid invisible frequency tagging reveals nonlinear integration of auditory and visual semantic information. Human Brain Mapping 42 (4), 1138-1152.

  • Drijvers, L., & Holler, J. (2022). Face-to-face spatial orientation fine-tunes the brain for neurocognitive processing in conversation. iScience, 25(11): 105413. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2022.105413.
  • Drijvers, L., Ozyurek, A., & Jensen, O. (2018). Hearing and seeing meaning in noise: Alpha, beta and gamma oscillations predict gestural enhancement of degraded speech comprehension. Human Brain Mapping, 39 (5), 2075 – 2087.
  • Drijvers, L., & Ozyurek, A. (2017). Visual context enhanced: The joint contribution of iconic gestures and visible speech to degraded speech comprehension. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 212-222.

Key grants and prizes
  • Minerva Fast Track Fellowship (≈ €1.000.000), awarded by the Max Planck Gesellschaft (principal investigator)


Principal investigator
Linda Drijvers

Noor Seijdel

Sara Mazzini
Marlijn ter Bekke
Miguel Rubianes Mendez 
Veerle Wilms
Cecilía Hústa

Master/Bachelor students
Nivedha Narayanaswamy
Elena Sofia Silva
Almut Jebens
Daan van Oosten

Affiliated researchers
Susanne Brouwer