Peter Hagoort awarded prestigious Academy Professor Prize

April 11, 2012

Peter Hagoort, Director at the MPI for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging), is the recipient of this year’s Academy Professor Prize, awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The prize is worth one million euro in research funds and is intended as a lifetime achievement award for researchers who have demonstrated that they are absolute leaders in their field of expertise. The award ceremony will take place on June 21, 2012.

Peter Hagoort researches the neurobiological foundations of the human language faculty. He observes the brain in action: how does the brain control language production and comprehension? Hagoort was one of the first to combine psychological theory with neuroscientific models and his ideas have had considerable influence on this field of expertise.

In an important research project during the late 90s, Hagoort studied the timing of speech: it turns out that our brain first collects grammatical information about a word before it collects information about the sound. This was the first, reliable, real-time measurement of speech production in the brain.

Hagoort is one of the most creative and productive scientists in his field. He also plays an important role in furthering the public debate about how the brain functions.

In 1999, Hagoort founded the prestigious Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen, which is now an affiliate of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. At the Donders Institute, a highly multidisciplinary team of researchers is using a series of new and advanced techniques to find out how the brain is able to process functions such as memory, language, observation, attention, emotion and consciousness.

The KNAW annually awards the Academy Professor Prize to two professors. This year’s other winner is Ewine van Dishoeck, professor of Molecular Astrophysics at the University of Leiden.

The prize winners are selected by an international jury, assembled by the KNAW. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation contributes to the prize.

The award ceremony will take place in the KNAW building the Trippenhuis on the afternoon of Thursday, June 21, 2012.

Peter Hagoort (1954) is a professor of Cognitive Neurosciences at Radboud University, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Director of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. Hagoort studied Biology and Psychology at the University of Utrecht and at Radboud University, where he became a professor in 1990. He has been the recipient of a number of important awards, one of which was the NWO-Spinoza Prize in 2005.

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