Crossing the boundaries language in interaction

This Language in Interaction Symposium was held on April 9, 2019 at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Broca and Wernicke’s breakthroughs in the 19th century paved the way to the current knowledge of language in the human brain. Yet, current research on this topic has gone above and beyond the scope of neuropsychology, with contributions from neuroscience, computer modelling, linguistics and genetics. The knowledge from these disciplines helped paint a more comprehensive picture of how the language system is organized in the brain. However, there is a theoretical gap between all these findings: solid evidence exists for how discrete elements of the language system are organized and work, but comprehensive models that encompass these separate results are still lacking. This reductionist bias is further exacerbated when overlooking the communicative aspect of language: are we able to fully explain how two human beings are able to communicate in an effective way?

In this symposium experts from different disciplines explored how their fields of expertise could come together to provide an integrated understanding of human language.


Lotte EijkJoão FerreiraGuilherme FrechesMarlou Rasenberg

Poster session

Symposium participants presented their language-related research from linguistics, (cognitive) neuroscience, genetics, computational modelling and related disciplines. Click here for a PDF version of the abstracts for the poster session.

A prize for the most interdisciplinary poster presentation was awarded to Midas Anijs and Dick van den Broek. The winners received a travel voucher to attend a language-related conference of choice. The poster jury  consisted of researchers within the Language in Interaction consortium.


8:30Registration opens | coffee & tea served
9:05Session 1 | Localism versus holism: some historical origins of studying language in the brain
Willem J.M. Levelt
10:00Short break
10:15Session 2 | The missing link(ing hypotheses)
David Poeppel
11:15Short break
11:30Session 3 | What does each discipline bring to the table?
Constance Scharff, Lorraine Tyler, Iris van Rooij & Balthasar Bickel
12:45Lunch break
13:45Poster session
14:45Session 4 | How can we bridge the gap?
Discussion moderated by David Poeppel
– Balthasar Bickel (University of Zurich)
– Constance Scharff (Freie Universität Berlin)
– Lorraine Tyler (University of Cambridge)
– Iris van Rooij (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
16:40Announcement of poster prize & closing remarks
17:00Borrel / Drinks

Contact and location

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD  Nijmegen


This symposium was supported by funding from the Language in Interaction Consortium
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