Tag Archives: Research


Prof Marc Brysbaert, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Gent (Belgium), has won the NVP popularization award 2014 in the category “MULTIMEDIA” for his groundbreaking research “Het taalonderzoek” (http://www.npowetenschap.nl/programmas/grootnationaalonderzoek/onderzoeken/het-taal-onderzoek.html)

About his research:

We started our vocabulary research from the observation that some words rarely encountered in books and television programs, are generally known. This goes against the tenet that word frequency is the best variable to predict word knowledge and speed of processing. Apparently, some words are acquired very rapidly (probably after a single encounter) or can be processed on the basis of prior knowledge (e.g., in the case of low frequency derived words). To find out how well words are known, we set up a short vocabulary test that was fun to do. As it was important to have many responses from a wide audience, we were happy to collaborate with the media (television, radio, newspapers). In the end, more than 2% of the Dutch speaking population (i.e., more than 440,000 persons) took part in the test so far. Preliminary analyses indicate that the percentage of people of who know a word (a variable we call word prevalence) explains as much variability in word processing times as word frequency and, in addition, is largely complementary to word frequency. This will seriously enhance our understanding of word learning and word processing. At the same time, the outcome of our research is also a nice historical document of Dutch word knowledge at the beginning of the 21st century. The data are freely available on the web, but are now also available as a book (http://www.academiapress.be/woordenkennis-van-nederlanders-en-vlamingen-anno-2013.html), for those who love to leaf through pages.

Seven PhD Positions in the Dutch Research Consortium ‘Language in Interaction’

Maximum salary: € 2,664 gross/month
Closing date: 30 September 2014
For more information:

We are looking for highly motivated PhD candidates to enrich a unique consortium of researchers that aims to unravel the neurocognitive mechanisms of language at multiple levels. The goal is to understand both the universality and the variability of the human language faculty from genes to behaviour.

The Netherlands has an outstanding track record in the language sciences. This research consortium sponsored by a large grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific research (NWO) brings together many of the excellent research groups in the Netherlands with a research programme on the foundations of language. The research team consists of 43 Principal Investigators. In addition to the excellence in the domain of language and related relevant fields of cognition, our consortium provides state-of-the-art research facilities and a research team with ample experience in the complex research methods that will be invoked to address the scientific questions at the highest level of methodological sophistication. These include methods from genetics, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and patient-related research. This consortium realizes both quality and critical mass for studying human language at a scale not easily found anywhere else.

Currently, the consortium advertises seven PhD positions for a period of 4 years. Depending on the PhD position applied for, candidates will be appointed at one of the home institutions of the consortium. These positions provide the opportunity for conducting world-class research as a member of an interdisciplinary team.

Click here for more information on the PhD positions and how to apply.