Following the psycholinguistic tradition, the main focus of my research has been on language as a product of the so-called human-language faculty. From the beginning of my studies as an undergraduate in Speech and Language Pathology, I have been interested in how language is organised in the brain. I am fascinated by our capability to produce and understand sentences and larger pieces of text we have never heard or read before, a phenomenon that is often referred to as one of the major puzzles of our communicative system. As a speech and language pathologist, I am especially interested in the prerequisites to develop a language faculty with which we are actually able to understand each other in different situations. What are the consequences if one or more of these prerequisites are missing or disturbed, and how do language users (learn to) cope with these consequences?
I carried out my PhD research in Groningen where I defended my thesis
Sentences Processing: Using Syntactic, Semantic and Thematic Information
in 2001. As a postdoctoral researcher, I worked on several projects in Magdeburg (Germany), Maastricht and Nijmegen (the Netherlands) addressing different aspects of language comprehension and production making use of temporal (neuroimaging) tools that have the benefit of not interfering with natural processes, such as the registration of eye movements (eye-tracking), and event related brain potentials (ERPs). In 2009, I received a research grant from the VU University Amsterdam for the project "In search of the referent" to investigate the complex dynamic mechanisms that are involved in discourse comprehension using eye movement registration.
In my current position at the department of Applied Linguistics, I combine different techniques to investigate written en spoken language understanding and production in typical and atypical populations including dyslectic children and adults, hearing impaired, and children with Specific Language Impairment.