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Distinguished Career Award – Peter Hagoort

The Society for the Neurobiology of Language is pleased to announce the 2021 Distinguished Career Award recipient: Peter Hagoort

The Distinguished Career Award is generously sponsored by Language, Cognition and Neuroscience.

Peter HagoortCarving the neurobiology of language at its joints: the quest for natural kinds

Speaker: Peter Hagoort, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Carving nature at its joints means that we have to discover the organizational principles that determine the structure of the domain we are interested in. The challenge for the neurobiology of language is to determine how we have to carve up the human language capacity in terms of its natural kinds, how to carve up the brain in its basic structural and functional components, and finally to determine the mapping relation between the natural kinds on both sides. I will argue that our current way of doing this is not without problems. For instance, Broca’s area and Wernicke’s are are not natural kinds at the level of neuroanatomy. Language is not a natural kind either. Hence it doesn’t make sense to aim at localizing the language system. Moreover a one-to-one mapping (one area one function) between language and brain is neurophysiologically implausible. Making progress in the neurobiology of language requires a stance on the natural kinds and the mapping relations. I will discuss some possible answers to the quest for natural kinds.

About Peter Hagoort

Prof. Dr. Peter Hagoort received his Ph.D. in 1990 from Radboud University in The Netherlands and currently holds the position of full Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at that institution. A world leader in cognitive neuroscience, he has served as the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI), Nijmegen since 2006 and the Director of the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) since 1999. His own research group on the Neurobiology of Language is hosted at both the DCCN and the MPI. Hagoort is well known in the SNL community for his early work in the electrophysiology of syntactic processing, his Memory, Unification, and Control (MUC) framework, as well as influential work on the neurobiology of pragmatics, neuromodeling, and emotional aspects of language processing. A founding member of SNL, he has previously served as president of the society and organized the 2014 SNL annual meeting in Amsterdam..