June 09, 2005

Spinoza Prize awarded for cognitive neuroscience of language

One of the four winners of the 2005 Spinoza Prize, announced June 6, was Peter Hagoort, a cognitive neuroscientist who is head of the F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen". The announcement from the NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek = "Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research") says that Hagoort "has demonstrated that brains in which the language-processing area is damaged can still understand language via other routes."

The "jury report" adds

Another part of his research focuses on the brain's activity during speech. Under Hagoort's supervision, researchers devised a method that shows at which moment the brain collects information about a word. With this they demonstrated that during speech, people know the grammatical data about a noun approximately 40 milliseconds earlier than the first syllable of the word. Another 120 milliseconds have elapsed before they have formed the complete sound of the word so that they can speak it.

[via Onzetaal

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 9, 2005 12:06 PM