Do you find the research on our website interesting? Then register as participant!

In order to conduct scientific research, we depend on volunteers who participate in our experiments as subjects. In experiments we observe how people perform different linguistic tasks and what the influence is on brain activity. Our experiments are harmless and non-invasive (we measure only on the body surface).

Our Neurobiology of Language lab does research in two different institutes, the language oriented Max Planck and the brain directed Donders Institute.  

Register as participant at Max Planck
Would you like to be a participant at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics? Register via this link:

You don’t have to be highly educated or speak several languages. You do need to be 18 or older. Although most of the research is done with native Dutch participants, we occasionally need native speakers of other languages too. However, the registration form is currently only available in Dutch.

Register as participant at Donders
We also perform experiments at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. The Donders Institute uses a different test subject database, namely SONA. You can register via this link:

You must be over 16 years old. Registration can be done in English or Dutch.

You can read more about our different research labs at MPI and the Donders Institute below.

MPI Labs

Online experiments

You can participate in online behavioural experiments from behind your computer at home, if you don’t want to travel to our institute. Below you see screenshots of an experiment where you have to learn an alien language. Another example of the type of task we run in our online experiments is a memory task.

Behavioural lab

Here at the MPI we have six behavioural labs, all with sound-proof booths. Each booth is equipped with a computer, button box, microphone, a pair of headphones, and a keyboard. Here we run various experiments on the computers. For example, you might be asked to read or listen to sentences and make a response using the keyboard or by speaking into the microphone. We also have gesture labs where we can film the gestures of participants.

Virtual Reality lab

As you’re usually not in a soundproof cabin in daily life, we also have a Virtual Reality (VR) lab at the MPI. In the VR lab we have both a VR room, called a CAVE, and a head mounted display (an oculus rift). Here experiments can be done in different realistic, three-dimensional (3D) environments, generated by the computer. In the CAVE, in order to see the virtual environments in 3D, you will wear special glasses. The VR glasses are equipped with silver, reflective spheres on the sides, so that the position of your head can be tracked, and the 3D images can update based on the position of your head in the CAVE. A virtual person will explain the experiment to you.


The information transfer in the central nervous system takes place, among other things, by means of the electrical activity of the nerve cells. It is possible to measure the continuous electrical activity of the brain with the help of electrodes that are attached to the head with a cap, similar to a swimming hat. The result of such a measurement is called an Electro-Encephalo-Gram, or EEG for short. Because the signals that are measured are very small, it is important that interference signals from the environment are blocked. The EEG measurement is therefore done in a special shielded room. If you participate in an EEG experiment, we start by placing the electrode cap, similar to a swimming hat, on your head. We will place a small amount of electrode gel between each electrode and your scalp. The gel helps to conduct the electric current from your scalp to the electrodes.

After the experiment, the electrode cap will be removed and you will be given the opportunity to rinse the electrode gel from your hair.

Eye Tracking

Our researchers have access to three experimental rooms with eye-tracking equipment. An eye-tracker measures the eye movement in order to determine the visual attention of the participant. We have head mounted eye trackers and portable ones for field studies.

Donders Lab

The labs at the Donders Institute, Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging are:


Functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) experiments are performed in the 1.5, 3, and 7 Tesla scanners. fMRI measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. A 3D image of the brain is made, showing where brain activity takes place in the brain. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases. In contrast to MRI, which only shows the location and size of an organ, fMRI can be used to determine the location of brain activity. During an MRI, you will be asked to lay very still inside the scanner. The scanner can be very noisy, so you will be given earplugs to protect your hearing. During an fMRI you might also be asked to perform a task, such as a reading or listening task.

A major advantage of fMRI is that this research technique is almost no burden on the patient and an image of the brain in an active state can be obtained.

Because the MRI scanner contains a very strong magnet, you cannot take part if you have any metal inside your body.


Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique with which brain activity can be mapped. Sensors called magnetometers measure the magnetic fields that naturally arise from brain activity. MEG is used, among other things, to study perception in the brain and cognitive processes, to determine the functions of specific brain areas and for neurofeedback. Because the MEG sensors are very sensitive to changes in magnetic field, the MEG scanner is located in a magnetically shielded room. You will be asked to remove any metallic items from your person before going into the magnetically shielded room. During an MEG experiment you will be asked to sit with your head inside the MEG helmet. The helmet is smooth plastic on the inside and, unlike EEG, we do not need to place any gel between your head and the helmet.