Mutual Understanding Lab

How Minds Meet · A Scientific Approach

Communication is often explained in terms of sending and receiving messages, presupposing that communicators already share the same set of rules for inserting and extracting meaning from those messages. This may hold true in the animal world, where a South African honeybee signaling the location of a flower patch would be immediately understood in a New Zealand beehive. Human communication is different, however. We employ our everyday words and gestures in virtually infinite ways, frequently in a vague or non-literal manner. Our conversation partner can usually grasp the intended meaning of our utterance at its first occurrence, thanks to its context of use in an ongoing interaction. The research outlined on this website is concerned with understanding this context and how it determines the meaning of an utterance. The overarching goal is to characterize a fundamental and evolutionarily unique ability of our species, and open the way for understanding and treating disorders of human communication such as seen in autism spectrum disorder.


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Communication research in the classroom


Scientific studies of human communication


Researchers investigating human communication


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We are looking for brain study participants with an autism or social anxiety diagnosis in the Netherlands. Contact us for more information.