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Language & Communication


Entry requirements

Only open to students that are admitted to the Minor Brain and Cognition.


In this 3 EC course we will discuss experimental studies and comparative analyses of the language and communication systems of human and non-human animals. We will specifically focus on the human language system and on comparative studies involving songbirds and human infants.


Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • gain knowledge about recent theories and (comparative) experimental studies in the field of language and communication in humans and non-human animals;

  • understand the difference between language and communication; and

  • understand the similarities and differences of vocal learning in humans and non-human animals.

Mode of Instruction

5 2-hour seminars


Exact dates will be published in the end of August. The course will run around the end of October and beginning of November.


  • Active participation in class (10%)

  • A short group presentation in class (30%)

  • A short research proposal ( max 2 A4) (60%)

Reading list

  • Van Heijningen, C., Chen, J., van Laatum, I., van der Hulst, B. & C. ten Cate (2013). Rule learning by zebra finches in an artificial grammar learning task: which rule? Animal Cognition 16, 2, 165-175.

  • Other papers: To be announced

Contact information

For questions about enrolment, please contact the coordinator of the minor in Brain and Cognition

For questions about the course, please contact the course coordinators:
Prof. Dr. C.C. Levelt