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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre
Areas of Interest: 
Comparative analysis of birdsong learning and human speech and language acquisition
Theoretical analysis of the evolution and mechanisms of language


My main research interests are in the behavioural, neural and cognitive mechanisms of language, learning, memory and development. In particular, my current research is concerned with the neural mechanisms of birdsong memory, and the neurocognitive parallels between birdsong, speech and language. In addition, I have a theoretical interest in the relationship between evolution, cognition, and the brain.


Key publications: 

Bolhuis, J.J., Beckers, G.J.L., Huybregts, M.A.C., Berwick, R.C. & Everaert, M.B.H (2018) The slings and arrows of comparative linguistics. PLoS Biology, 16(9), e3000019.

Bolhuis, J.J., Beckers, G.J.L., Huybregts, M.A.C., Berwick, R.C. & Everaert, M.B.H (2018) Meaningful syntactic structure in songbird vocalizations? PloS Biology, 16(6), e2005157.

Friederici, A.D., Chomsky, N., Berwick, R.C., Moro, A. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2017) Language, mind and brain. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, 713-722.

Yang, C., Crain, S., Berwick, R.C., Chomsky, N. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2017) The growth of language: Universal Grammar, experience, and principles of computation. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 81,103-119.

Everaert, M.B.H, Huybregts, M.A.C., Berwick, R.C., Chomsky, N., Tattersall, I., Moro, A. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2017) What is language and how could it have evolved? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21, 569-571.

Huybregts, M.A.C., Berwick, R.C. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2016) The language within. Science, 352, 1286.

Everaert, M.B.H, Huybregts, M.A.C., Chomsky, N., Berwick, R.C & Bolhuis, J.J. (2015) Structures, not strings: Linguistics as part of the cognitive sciences. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19, 729-743.

Bolhuis, J.J., Tattersall, I., Chomsky, N. & Berwick, R.C. (2015) Language: UG or not to be, that is the question.  PLoS Biology, 13(2): e1002063.

Bolhuis, J.J., Tattersall, I., Chomsky, N. & Berwick, R.C. (2014) How could language have evolved? PLoS Biology, 12(8), e1001934.

Berwick, R.C., Friederici, A.D., Chomsky, N. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2013) Evolution, brain and the nature of language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 89-98.

Bolhuis, J.J. & Everaert, M. (Eds.) (2013) Birdsong, Speech & Language. Exploring the Evolution of Mind and Brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 

Berwick, R.C., Okanoya, K, Beckers, G.J.L. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2011) Songs to syntax: The linguistics of birdsong. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15, 113-121.

Bolhuis, J.J., Okanoya, K. & Scharff, C. (2010) Twitter evolution: Converging mechanisms in birdsong and human speech. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11, 747-759.

Academic Visitor, Department of Zoology
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Psychology
Visiting Scholar, St. Catharine's College
Professor of Cognitive Neurobiology, Utrecht University
Professor Johan  Bolhuis

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