Topic 3  

Language

Language is a defining property of the human mind, and it closely interacts with other cognitive capabilities such as emotion and reasoning.

The Berlin School of Mind and Brain has been a particularly well-suited location for fostering language research, and recent appointments have made it even better. The School is embedded in a fertile research environment consisting of the linguistic departments at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, and Universität Potsdam, the psychology departments at Humboldt-Universität and Potsdam, the philosophy department at Humboldt-Universität, the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin, the Collaborative Research Center “Informationsstruktur” at Potsdam and Humboldt universities, and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Leipzig.

The research expertise in language spans a wide range of topics: Angela Friederici studies the neural basis of syntactic processing. Shravan Vasishth and Peter beim Graben work on computational psycholinguistics, especially on syntactic parsing. Isabell Wartenburger and Katharina Spalek investigate neural and behavioral aspects of language structure and cognition, with a particular focus on bilinguals. The research areas of Manfred Krifka, Markus Egg, and Sophie Repp are semantics and syntax of languages and text understanding. Friedemann Pulvermüller’s Brain Language Laboratory at Freie Universität focuses on the brain mechanisms of language and on language therapy. Rasha Abdel Rahman investigates the interplay between vision and language. At the philosophy department of Humboldt-Universität, three appointees have a strong interest in philosophy of language: Karl Georg Niebergall, Tobias Rosefeldt, and Geert Keil.

Contact details of the Mind & Brain faculty

Internal links to Faculty and Associated resarchers

Special Newsletter issue on language research

View or download pdf here or see section Newsletter (internal link)

 

 
This page last updated on: 09 July 2015
 

How many sentences does a language have?
Difficult to tell! The linguists hold that the number of sentences is infinite. The argument goes like this: Take any sentence. There is not one to which you cannot add another word. The intrinsic fascination, however, lies in the nature of the human language faculty. It is a powerful cognitive mechanism for information processing implemented in the brain. It takes thoughts and sensations as input and translates them into vibrations in the air – and vice versa.

Photograph © Laura Viefhues