Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Department of Neuropsychology
The Department’s research agenda is to identify the functional architecture of language and its neuroanatomical basis in the mature and the developing brain.
The approach of the Neuropsychology Department is interdisciplinary, using different methods for analyzing brain activity and anatomical structure. To identify how brain activity during language processing unfolds in time, we mainly use magnetoencephalographic (MEG) and electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements as well as behavioural measures to identify the temporal structure of brain activity during language processing. The combination of the former two methods with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), with its high spatial resolution, allows us to establish a coherent picture of the functional neuroanatomy of language processing in the human brain. In addition, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analyses are used to gain insight into the structural connectivities underlying the neural network of language.
As excited as parents are when their little one babbles "Ma-Ma" or "Pa-Pa" for the first time, a lot still has to happen until sentences arise. The brain areas responsible for word meaning and grammar must mature and connections need to develop and strengthen. This process starts unconsciously and in every language a baby can be born into – in contrast to apes. Although these animals show complex capabilities, they are not able to acquire language. Angela D. Friederici, from the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS), together with colleagues from the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology wants to figure out which brain structures and genes make the situation different for humans. In the following interview Friederici talks about why we still know so little about the differences between humans and apes – and why even the existing knowledge could be questioned by new findings.
Anyone who investigates how children acquire language encounter the grammar centre of the brain. Angela D. Friederici during a conversation with Die ZEIT newspaper on universal grammar and the brain structures that enable us to process language.
This 'brain podcast' with Angela D. Friederici on her book about language as a uniquely human capacity provides an excellent overview to listeners of all backgrounds. A conversation about the earliest knowledge acquired from patients with brain lesions, newer tools allow researchers to correlate concepts from Linguistics with the neuroscientific tools and an increasing interest in the connections between the various brain areas that are involved in language.
Over a period of several months a film crew recorded volunteers of the long-term study Second language acquisition hereat the Max Planck Institute. As a result, the short documentary was broadcast on 3sat nano on 19th January 2017 and can be viewed in German on the Mediathek.
A conversation about the development of language during the course of our lives, her work as vice president of the Max Planck Society, and the value of basic research to uncover truly new findings. The BR alpha forum invites outstanding personalities from the fields of politics and business, science and society, and culture and religion to engage in profound discussion, in which there is enough time for details and nuances and not only attention-grabbing quotes.