Tilburg University department Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence

Neurocomputation of Language

We combine neurocomputational modeling with empirical experimentation to investigate the neural basis of language. Grounded in principles of neural information processing, and informed by empirical insights on the nature and time course of comprehension, our models aim to offer mechanistic explanations of how an interpretation is constructed in real time as spoken or written linguistic signal unfolds on a, more or less, word-by-word basis.

  • Harm Brouwer

    dr. Harm Brouwer

    Principal Investigator
Neurocomputation of Language

Themes that are central to our research are:

The nature and time course of comprehension: Using high-temporal resolution neurophysiological recordings, we aim to identify what processes are involved in mapping from signal to meaning, and how these processes are temporally organized. Through direct linking hypotheses to online behavioral (reading times) and neurophysiological (event-related potentials) processing indices, our neurocomputational models allow us to empirically validate fine-grained mechanistic explanations.

Neural representation and computation of meaning: Neurocomputational models require us to be explicit about the representations computed during comprehension. Informed by neurophysiology and linguistic theory, our models recover neural representations of word-level and utterance-level meaning. Crucially, beyond capturing literal meaning, we develop utterance representations that capture inferences driven by world knowledge, as well as information theoretic notions of expectancy.

The cortical organization of the language network: By aligning our neurocomputational models with insights on the cortical organization of language, as informed by spatial neuroimaging and lesion studies, we derive functional-anatomic mappings that allow for spatiotemporal predictions about language processing in the brain. This cortical grounding is critical to understanding how processes dynamically interact, and how this affects neurophysiological signals.


  • Neurobehavioural Correlates of Surprisal in Online Comprehension


Saarland University