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Trends in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language

Date: 4 - 8 July 2022            
Early bird fee: €540 or €450(deadline 1 April 2022)
Regular fee: €600
Application deadline: 1 June 2022

Download the detailed programme here

Course Description

Human language is a unique symbolic system that allow us to communicate with others. Current theories make different predictions on how these symbols are manipulated to construct meaningful structures, like sentences and discourse, by employing different modalities of spoken, written language, and gestures. How do we manage these operations - and so quickly - when we read, or during a conversation? How do we learn them when we acquire language? And how did these functions evolve? Complex cognitive and neural systems support linguistic, conceptual, and communicative functions. In the last few decades, rapid advances in the experimental methods and analysis techniques made it possible to explore the human mind and brain at work during different language tasks, thus uncovering the underlying spatial and temporal dynamics in both healthy and impaired populations, during language learning and acquisition and once language and literacy are acquired and mastered.

The aim of this course is to open a window in the neuroscientific study of language, testing different theories and views on the brain mechanisms supporting language production and comprehension across development, species and cultures for the purpose of communication. You will join an expedition in the neurocognition of language through first-hand data and results from the experimental investigation.

In Nijmegen, at the Max Planck of Psycholinguistics and Donders Institute for Cognitive Neuroimaging, researchers use a variety of approaches, including controlled experimental and cutting-edge techniques, such as brain imaging, electro- and neuro-physiology, computational modelling to unravel the neurobiological foundations of language and communication. Research in the psycholinguistics and neurocognition of language in Nijmegen is at the scientific forefront and the Max Planck of Psycholinguistics and DI are world-leading research institutes in this scientific area. Lecturers in the summer school are senior scientific investigators at the MPI and DI.

You will receive introductions to specific topics that correspond to the major research lines of the MPI/DI, with a focus on neurosemantics and neuropragmatics, genetics and special conditions. In addition, you will be provided with demonstrations at the research labs of the DI, thus gaining insight into the practical aspects of cognitive scientific empirical research.

Course Leader

Francesca Carota
Postdoctoral ReseacherNeural Dynamics of Language Production - Neurobiology of Language Department
Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Francesca Carota received her PhD in Cognitive and computational linguistics from the University of Pisa, Italy. After working and teaching at the MRC-CBU and the University of Cambridge, Freie and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, she joined the Neurobiology of Language Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen. She employs neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG/MEG), behavioural and computational linguistic techniques to investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of language production and comprehension, asking how semantic, grammatical, an pragmatic properties of linguistic input are distributed across the language systems cross-linguistically. She organised the MPI International Radboud Summer School 2019.

Jana Bašnáková
Neurobiology of Language Department
Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Jana Bašnáková investigates how people use context in communication to arrive at the meaning of even highly indirect utterances. She obtained her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) under the supervision of Jos van Berkum and Peter Hagoort. After researching scientific literacy and decision-making at the Institute for Experimental Psychology (Bratislava, Slovakia), she joined the Donders Institute in Nijmegen as director of the Synergy Group investigating context-dependent communication in autism, together with Arjen Stolk (www.mutualunderstanding.nl).

Learning Outcomes

After this course you are able to:

  • Understand current theories and questions in the psycho- and neurolinguistics, with a special focus on semantics and pragmatics of human communication and their neural underpinnings.
  • Analyse the neurocognitive and psychological processes that underlie complex behaviour.
  • Evaluate the link between theoretical questions and the way they can be addressed using specific methods and techniques.

Level of participant

  • Master
  • PhD

The course is designed for

Master / PhD students with a background in psychology, cognitive, language, medical, or natural sciences.

Admission Requirements

MA, PhD; familiarity with the fundamental concepts of linguistic structure; familiarity with the fundamentals of brain anatomy.

Admission Documents

  • Motivation letter
  • CV


4 - 8 July 2022

Application Deadline

1 June 2022

Course Fee


Early Bird Discounts

  • 10% early bird discount for all applicants
  • 25% discount early bird discount for:
    • students and PhD candidates from partner universities and Radboud University
    • alumni of Radboud Summer School and Radboud University

Mode of study

This course will be offered on campus.

ECTS credits