Connecting European Neuroscience

Neurobiology of language and communication

3-9 January 2016, at the Universitätszentrum, Obergurgl, Austria


  • Language is a higher cognitive function that is typically associated with human communication. The underlying neuronal systems have been largely unraveled, using e.g. fMRI. Studies over the past decades have shown that similar systems and functions are also in place for social communication in other species. Notably, research on how birds learn their own songs has provided deep insights into the neurobiology of language-like communication, including detailed analyses at the molecular, cellular and circuit level. Advances have also been made in the genetic basis of language formation and diseases thereof. Animal models (mice or non-human primates) allow a deeper understanding of the developmental aberrations linked to genetic variations. This school will provide students with the latest insights into the neurobiology of language and communication, emphasizing similarities across species as well as pointing out which models are most suitable to address specific aspects. The course is meant for PhD students and postdocs with a neurobiological background and preferably some knowledge of the subject.

Scientific chairs

  • Peter Hagoort (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
  • Peter Hagoort is director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (since November 2006), and the founding director of the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN, 1999), a cognitive neuroscience research centre at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In addition, he is professor in cognitive neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen. His own research interests relate to the domain of the human language faculty and how it is instantiated in the brain. In his research he applies neuroimaging techniques such as ERP, MEG, PET and fMRI to investigate the language system and its impairments as in aphasia, dyslexia and autism. At the Max Planck Institute he is heading a department on the Neurobiology of Language. For his scientific contributions, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts Sciences (KNAW) awarded him with the Hendrik Mullerprijs in 2003. In 2004, he was awarded by the Dutch Queen with the "Knighthood of the Dutch Lion". In 2005 he received the NWO-Spinoza Price (M€ 1.5). In 2007 the University of Glasgow awarded him with an honorary doctorate in science for his contributions to the cognitive neuroscience of language. In 2008 he was awarded with the Heymans Prize. In 2012 the KNAW awarded his career contribution to the cognitive neuroscience with the Academy Professorship Prize (M€ 1.0). Peter Hagoort is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and of the Academia Europaea.
  • Julia Fischer (University of Goettingen, Germany)
  • Julia Fischer obtained her PhD from the FU Berlin in 1996. After postdocs at the University of Pennsylvania and the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, she was jointly appointed as professor at the University of Göttingen and the German Primate Center, where she heads the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory. Her research centers on the vocal communication, cognition and social behavior of nonhuman primates. She is the speaker of the Leibniz ScienceCampus on Primate Cognition, and member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science as well as the Göttingen Academy of Science. In 2013, she received the Grüter-Prize for Science Communication.

Invited faculty

David Poeppel (New York University, USA), Nina Dronkers (University of California, USA), Steffen Hage (University of Tübingen, Germany), Simon E. Fisher (Radboud University, The Netherlands), Dan Margoliash (University of Chicago, USA), Anne Christophe (Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (LSCP) - CNRS, France), Nicola Palomero-Gallagher (Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine Jülich), Franck Ramus (Ecole Normale Superieur CNRS, France).

Registration and stipends

  • Fee: FENS Members: 495 EUR
             FENS Non-members: 575 EUR
  • Registration fee covers tuition, accommodation and meals.
  • There are few stipends (covering the registration fee) available for candidates from disadvantaged countries. Any applicant in need of a grant should however first try to request it from the lab, institution or government if possible.Once an applicant has been accepted to the school, the available grants will be provided on the basis of need.
  • Applications are closed


Universitätszentrum Obergurgl, Austria


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What they say about FENS Schools

“These schools happen in a very relaxed setting where people can think outside the box. This is the kind of interaction which brings value and stimulates new ideas.”

Prof. Oscar Marin (Alicante, Spain), Scientific co-chair - FENS SfN Summer School 2014.



About FENS Schools