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.
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.
Communicating with babies in infant-directed-speech is considered an essential prerequisite for successful language development of the little ones. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now investigated how the mood of mothers in the postpartum period affects their child’s development. They found that even children whose mothers suffer from mild depressive mood that do not yet require medical treatment show early signs of delayed language development. The reason for this could be the way the women talk to the newborns. The findings could help prevent potential deficits early on.
From an early age, children learn to name things and events, but also how to combine words according to the rules of their language. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) Leipzig and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin have now found that even six-month-old babies store relationships between speech elements in memory. [more]
Over 70 million deaf people around the world use one of more than 200 different sign languages as their preferred form of communication. Although they access similar structures in the brain as spoken languages, it has been difficult to identify the brain regions that process both forms of language equally. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) have now discovered in a meta-analysis that Broca's area in the left hemisphere of the brain, which has already been shown to be the central hub for spoken languages, is also the crucial brain region for sign languages. This is where the grammar and meaning of language are processed, regardless of whether it is spoken or signed language. This shows that our brain is generally specialized in processing linguistic information. Whether this information is spoken or signed seems to be of secondary importance.
The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft honours young scientists and researchers each year with the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements. This year, Stephanie Theves and Matthias Nau from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) won two of the coveted awards.