Language interacts with other cognitive abilities, including perception, action, memory, thinking, and attention. In the Attention and Language Performance laboratory, we seek to understand the neurocognitive mechanisms of spoken language production and its relation to these other abilities, particularly attention. Attention is important when language processes are not fully automatized in language development, when automaticity has been obtained only partially in a second language, or when automaticity is lost due to brain damage in aphasia. Attention abilities include alerting (brief or sustained), orienting (with or without gaze shifting), and executive control (updating, inhibiting, and shifting), each of which is examined by us. Attention is also needed for self-monitoring, through which speakers assess whether planning and performance are consistent with intent, in first and second languages. We study language and attention in healthy (bilingual) adults as well as in typically developing children and children with language impairment, and in (bilingual) adults with aphasia due to stroke or neurodegenerative disease.


A central topic of our work is word finding (in first and second languages), also called word retrieval, lexical access, or word planning. Word-finding difficulties occasionally happen in all speakers and commonly in all types of aphasia and developmental language disorder. Word finding and its difficulties may be assessed by measuring the speed and accuracy of picture naming, and deficits may be remediated by training. We work on a neurocognitive model called WEAVER++/ARC that addresses treatment effects and explains how attention contributes to successful (bilingual) word retrieval in health and disease.


One important line of research in recent years concerned primary progressive aphasia, which is an impairment of language due to neurodegenerative disease. In addition, we have examined language deficits in Alzheimer's dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and Parkinson's disease. In collaboration with several hospitals in the Netherlands, we have done patient studies (including the development of a screening test for the clinic, the SYDBAT-NL). This empirical work has been complemented by computational modeling to gain deeper theoretical insight.


Our goal is not only to better theoretically understand language production and its relation to other cognitive abilities, but also to contribute to the improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of language deficits (e.g., our screening test SYDBAT-NL and therapy app SimpTell for aphasia). Locally, we collaborate with the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the Radboudumc Alzheimer Centre, and the Radboudumc Parkinson Centre.


The name of our lab alludes to the Attention and Performance "research tradition that began during World War II in the United Kingdom. Research within this tradition has sought to illuminate basic questions about the architecture of the human mind by examining the human performance in relatively simple tasks. ... [and to relate] ... mechanisms characterized at a functional level to brain activity and neural circuits" (Pashler et al., Annual Review of Psychology, 2001, p. 630). Actually, this research tradition had started in the 1860s in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where Donders conducted his seminal reaction time studies, and in the 1870s in Leipzig, Germany, where Wundt opened the Institute for Experimental Psychology. For an excellent overview of the first half century of research, see the book Experimental Psychology by Woodworth published in 1938.





In our research, we have adopted a multi-method approach that includes measurements of response time and accuracy, eye tracking, electrophysiological (EEG, MEG) and hemodynamic (fMRI) neuroimaging, brain stimulation (TMS, DBS), tractography, imaging genetics, and computational modeling. A hallmark of our approach is that behavioral performance is assessed in terms of mean response times and accuracy as well as characteristics of the shape of response time distributions, including measures related to variability and skewness. Another hallmark is the central role of computational modeling. As much as possible, our research is driven by, and aims to further develop, the WEAVER++ computational model of attention and language performance and its neurocognitive extension WEAVER++/ARC that synthesizes behavioral psycholinguistic, functional neuroimaging, tractography, and aphasiological evidence. We study language and attention in several populations, including healthy (bilingual) adult individuals as well as in typically developing and language-impaired children, and in (bilingual) adults with aphasia due to stroke or neurodegenerative disease.



The rationale behind using multiple methods is to obtain converging evidence, the idea being that if evidence from multiple methods is in agreement, the conclusion can be strong even if each method has its weaknesses. With our computational modeling, we seek to synthesize the insights obtained with the multiple methods, thereby providing a proof of concept of our theoretical ideas. Language use engages many components of language and cognition, and effective communication depends on interactions among several components. Thus, successful theories and models must treat all of these components in an integrated manner.

In our work, we use several open-source software toolboxes, including R (for linear mixed-effects and other statistical analyses), JASP (for Bayesian statistical analyses), FieldTrip (for EEG/MEG analyses), and SPM and FSL (for fMRI analyses and tractography).


Issues in naming, attentional inhibition, alpha oscillations in the brain, and intelligence have been examined through the Wundt 2.0 computational model. For more information about this model, click on the icon above.




The lexical interface in the brain: Linking spoken language comprehension and production (PhD project)
Arushi Garg, James McQueen (DCC), Vitória Piai (DCC / DCN-Radboudumc), Ardi Roelofs

The role of subcortical structures in language (PhD project)
João Ferreira, Vitória Piai (DCC / DCN-Radboudumc), Ardi Roelofs
. This project is done in collaboration with the Radboudumc Parkinson Centre.

Top-down control in language production (PhD project)
Aitor San José, Antje Meyer (MPI), Ardi Roelofs

The mediating role of executive functioning in recovering from bilingual aphasia (PhD project)
Saskia Mooijman (CLS), Ardi Roelofs, Marina Ruiter (CLS), Rob Schoonen (CLS)


ecent past projects


Genetics and training of attentional control in typical and developmentally impaired speakers (PhD project)
Kasia Sikora, Daan Hermans (Royal Dutch Kentalis), Harry Knoors (Royal Dutch Kentalis, BSI), Ardi Roelofs. This project was done in collaboration with Royal Dutch Kentalis.

Relating brain potentials and oscillations to the time it takes to produce spoken words (PhD project)
Natalia Shitova, Herbert Schriefers, Marcel Bastiaansen (Tilburg University and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences), Jan-Mathijs Schoffelen, Ardi Roelofs.

Basal ganglia thalamocortical mechanisms of cognitive control in speaking (PhD project)
Marpessa Rietbergen, Roshan Cools (DCCN), Hanneke den Ouden, Ardi Roelofs.

The neural basis of error monitoring in language control (PhD project)
Xiaochen Zheng, Kristin Lemhöfer, Ardi Roelofs


Cognitive processes underlying simultaneous interpreting (PhD project)
Jeroen van Paridon (MPI), Antje Meyer (MPI), Ardi Roelofs

Contributions of dorsal and ventral neural pathways to speaking in health and disease (PhD project)
Nikki Janssen, Roy Kessels (DCC, DCN, Radboud Alzheimer Centre), Christian Beckmann (DCN, DCCN, Radboudumc CNS Dept.), Ardi Roelofs. This project was done in collaboration with the Radboudumc Alzheimer Centre.




Web-based application SimpTell (Semi-independent Interactive Multimodal Production Training of ELLipses) for people with agrammatism in chronic Broca’s aphasia (in Dutch)
For more information about SimpTell, click here or on the icon below.

Team: Marina Ruiter (Sint Maartenskliniek rehabilitation centre, Centre for Language Studies), Vitória Piai (DCC / DCN-Radboudumc), Arvind Datadien, Esther Steenbeek-Planting, Robert van Engelen, Isabelle Hendriks, Ardi Roelofs.

SimpTell is an aphasia therapy application for the training of elliptical style in patients with agrammatism in chronic Broca’s aphasia. The language is Dutch. The application was developed within the Dutch Research Consortium Language in Interaction (NWO Gravitation programme), in collaboration with the Sint Maartenskliniek revalidation centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Patients are intensively trained to produce elliptical utterances (e.g., "Praten lastig. Alleen korte zinnen maken" ["Speaking difficult. Producing short sentences only"]) and to override their automatic attempt to formulate sentences (which they no longer can do accurately).

The language therapy implemented in SimpTell is based on the theoretical and empirical work of Herman Kolk, with historical roots in the work of Arnold Pick and Max Isserlin in the early twentieth century. These pioneers applied ideas of the Würzburg School in psychology to aphasia. The telegraphic speech of agrammatic speakers is seen as a mental set (Einstellung), an adaptation to the language production impairment that serves to improve communication, with ellipses requiring less production capacity than full-fledged sentences. The aim of SimpTell is to intensively train elliptical style so that functional communication is improved.

For a poster (in Dutch) on SimpTell, click here: Poster (PDF 1847K). Ruiter, M., Roelofs, A., Piai, V., Datadien, A., Steenbeek-Planting, E., Van Engelen, R., & Hendriks, I. (2017). SimpTell: Webgebaseerde telegramstijltherapie [SimpTell: Webbased therapy for telegram style]. Afasiecongres "State of the Art 2017", Zeist, the Netherlands.

For an article (in Dutch) on SimpTell:Ruiter, M., Roelofs, A., Piai, V., Datadien, A., Steenbeek-Planting, E., Van Engelen, R., & Hendriks, I. (2019). Stoppen met praten op de automatische piloot [To stop speaking on autopilot]. DIXIT: Tijdschrift over Taal- en Spraaktechnologie, 16, 34-35. Article (PDF 188K)

As of October 2020, we collaborate withLogoclicksto continue making the app widely available for people with aphasia, see here the University's announcement in Dutch and here in English.

Screening test for primary progressive aphasia SYDBAT-NL (for Dutch)

Developed in collaboration with Radboud University Medical Center (Nijmegen) and other hospitals in the Netherlands, including Erasmus University Medical Center (Rotterdam), Jeroen Bosch Hospital (Den Bosch), and Maastricht University Medical Centre (Maastricht).


Team: Nikki Janssen, Roy Kessels (DCC, DCN, Radboudumc Alzheimer Centre), Vitória Piai (DCC, DCN, Dept. of Medical Psychology, Radboudumc), Esther van den Berg, Willem Eikelboom (Dept. of Neurology, Erasmus MC), Meike Holleman (Dept. of Medical Psychology, Jeroen Bosch Hospital), Dymphie in de Braek (Dept. of Medical Psychology, Maastricht UMC), Ardi Roelofs.

For access to the SYDBAT-NL and more information on the test (in Dutch, on the website of Roy Kessels), click here or on the icon above.

The SYDBAT-NL for the Dutch language is based on the Australian SYDBAT test for the English language (Sydney, Neuroscience Research Australia) and has been developed within the PhD project "Contributions of dorsal and ventral neural pathways to speaking in health and disease" of theDutch Research Consortium Language in Interaction (NWO Gravitation programme).

For an early article (in Dutch) on the SYDBAT-NL: Eikelboom, W.S., Janssen, N., Van den Berg, E., Roelofs, A., & Kessels, R.P.C. (2017). Differentiatie van Primair-Progressieve Afasie varianten: de Nederlandse bewerking van de Sydney Language Battery (SYDBAT-NL). Tijdschrift voor Neuropsychologie, 12, 189-202. Article (PDF 165K)

For an article in English on the SYDBAT-NL:Janssen, N., Roelofs, A., Van den Berg, E., Holleman, M. A., In de Braek, D. M. J. M., Piguet, O., Piai, V., & Kessels, R. P. C. (2022). The diagnostic value of language screening in primary progressive aphasia: Validation and application of the Sydney Language Battery. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research,65, 200-2014. Article (PDF 590K)

Greater understanding of the impairments in primary progressive aphasia has been obtained through computer simulations with WEAVER++/ARC of performance on the SYDBAT (for English) and the SYDBAT-NL (for Dutch), at both group and individual patient levels. The model implements a seminal suggestion by Pick (1892) and modern empirical insights. Click here or on the icon below for more information on the model.

Roelofs, A. (2022). A neurocognitive computational account of word production, comprehension, and repetition in primary progressive aphasia. Brain and Language, 227, 105094. Article (PDF 2403K)




Principal investigator

Ardi Roelofs



None currently

PhD students

Arushi Garg

João Ferreira

Aitor San José

Saskia Mooijman


MA students

None currently


BA students

None currently


Research assistants

None currently



Marcel Bastiaansen (Tilburg University and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences)

Christian Beckmann

Dorothee Chwilla

Roshan Cools

Ton Dijkstra

Daan Hermans (Royal Dutch Kentalis)

Roy Kessels

Harry Knoors (Royal Dutch Kentalis, BSI)

Kristin Lemhöfer

James McQueen

Antje Meyer (MPI)

Hanneke den Ouden

Vitória Piai

Richard Ridderinkhof (U. Amsterdam)

Marina Ruiter (Sint Maartenskliniek, Centre for Language Studies, RU)

Jan-Mathijs Schoffelen

Annette Scheper (Royal Dutch Kentalis)

Rob Schoonen (CLS)

Herbert Schriefers

Atsuko Takashima

Rinus Verdonschot (previously Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan; now, MPI)



Dirk Janssen (PhD)

Marjolein Korvorst (PhD)

Rebecca Özdemir (PhD)

Lonneke Bücken (BA)

Esther Aarts (PhD)

Kim Verhoef (PhD)

Elise Haverkamp (BA)

Joyce Williams (BA)

Ceciele Luijnenburg (BA)

Sanne de Baaij (BA)

Joep van der Graaf (visiting student; MA, U. Utrecht)

Gabriela Garrido Rodriguez (MSc)

Martijn Lamers (PhD)

Sharon van der Pol (BA)

Marcel Braun (BA)

Svetlana Lito Gerakakis (MSc)

Inge van Oosteren (BA)

Isa Rjosk (BA)

Marlot Burmanje (BA)

Teun Smulders (BA)

Evelien Mulder (visiting student; BA, Orthopedagogics, RU Nijmegen)

Hoi-Yee Chan (BA)

Merel Burgering (visiting student; U. Amsterdam, Biomedical Sciences)

Henriette Raudszus (KNAW Academy Assistantship)

Katharina Sonntag (BA)
Thijs Ruitenburg (BA)

Angela de Bruin (MSc)

Zeshu Shao (PhD)

Vitória Piai (PhD)

Henriette Raudszus (MSc)

Samuel Hansen (visiting PhD student, U. Queensland, Australia)

Caitlin Coughler (MSc)

Thera Baayen (MA, Speech and Language Pathology, RU)

Kasia Sikora (PhD)

Natalia Shitova (PhD)

Isabelle Hendriks (RA, SimpTell project)

Carla Kaminsky (BA)
Jasmijn van de Pol (BA)
Judith Staamer (BA)

Marpessa Rietbergen (PhD student)

Margo Mangnus (MSc)

Xiaochen Zheng (PhD)

Mathieu Declerck (postdoc Marie Curie fellowship)

Dario De Falco (MA)

Tim Bouman (RA, SimpTell project)

Nikki Janssen (PhD)

Jeroen van Paridon (PhD)