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NeuroSyntax SIGNED

The cerebral representation of sequences and roles : investigating the origins of human uniqueness.

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 NeuroSyntax project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the NeuroSyntax project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "NeuroSyntax" about.

behavioral    capacity    linguistic    formulate    magneto    memory    representations    predictive    syntax    meg    human    representation    identical    visual    adult    phylogeny    clarify    subjects    codes    record    abstraction    models    shed    ontogeny    neural    differences    techniques    materials    origins    principles    inputs    perform    macaque    course    predicts    encodes    circuits    hypothesis    tested    coding    frontal    remarkable    extrapolation    humans    time    inferior    light    that    encephalography    structures    grasp    auditory    incoming    brain    functional    language    eeg    electro    what    mri    compresses    fmri    place    uses    rule    tracking    hierarchy    eye    corticography    learning    expansion    abstract    evolution    probe    kolmogorov    nested    sequences    ecog    mechanisms    complexity    involve    anticipate    acquired    tensor    primates    demands    machine    manifested    rules    capacities    gyrus    memorize    mathematical    adults    paradigms    items    children    correspondences    sharp    search    infants    monkeys    localization    mathematics    pointing   

Project "NeuroSyntax" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: RUE LEBLANC 25
city: PARIS 15
postcode: 75015

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country France [FR]
 Total cost 2˙499˙746 €
 EC max contribution 2˙499˙746 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-AdG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-10-01   to  2021-09-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

What are the origins of humans’ remarkable capacities to grasp, memorize, and produce complex sequences and rules, as manifested in language and mathematics? During its evolution, the human brain may have acquired a capacity to represent nested rules, based in part on the expansion of circuits involving the inferior frontal gyrus. This hypothesis will be tested using behavioral measures, functional MRI, magneto-encephalography (MEG), electro-corticography (ECOG) and machine learning techniques in human and non-human primates tested in identical paradigms. (1) We will design a hierarchy of non-linguistic visual and auditory sequences that place increasing demands on abstract rule coding.(2) Behavioral studies of pointing time and eye tracking will investigate the memory for such sequences in human adults, children, and macaque monkeys, and their extrapolation to future items. (3) Functional MRI, MEG, and ECOG will probe the localization, time course, and neural coding of such non-linguistic sequences in human adults. (4) In the same subjects, we will investigate the representation of linguistic and mathematical structures and determine if they involve the same areas and coding principles. (5) We will also record fMRI and ECOG responses to this hierarchy of non-linguistic sequences in macaque monkeys, in search of both correspondences and sharp differences with humans. (6) The same non-linguistic materials will be used in fMRI and EEG studies of human children and infants. Our hypothesis predicts that human children may perform better than adult monkeys. (7) We will formulate and test mathematical models that propose that the human brain “compresses” incoming sequences using nested rules (Kolmogorov complexity), uses predictive codes to anticipate on future inputs, and encodes syntax via tensor-product representations. The results will clarify the brain mechanisms of human language and abstraction abilities, and shed light on their ontogeny and phylogeny.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2017 Matthew J. Nelson, Imen El Karoui, Kristof Giber, Xiaofang Yang, Laurent Cohen, Hilda Koopman, Sydney S. Cash, Lionel Naccache, John T. Hale, Christophe Pallier, Stanislas Dehaene
Neurophysiological dynamics of phrase-structure building during sentence processing
published pages: E3669-E3678, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1701590114
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114/18 2019-06-13
2018 Antonio Moreno, Fanny Limousin, Stanislas Dehaene, Christophe Pallier
Brain correlates of constituent structure in sign language comprehension
published pages: 151-161, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.11.040
NeuroImage 167 2019-06-13
2018 Dror Dotan, Florent Meyniel, Stanislas Dehaene
On-line confidence monitoring during decision making
published pages: 112-121, ISSN: 0010-0277, DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.11.001
Cognition 171 2019-06-13
2017 Marie Amalric, Liping Wang, Pierre Pica, Santiago Figueira, Mariano Sigman, Stanislas Dehaene
The language of geometry: Fast comprehension of geometrical primitives and rules in human adults and preschoolers
published pages: e1005273, ISSN: 1553-7358, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005273
PLOS Computational Biology 13/1 2019-06-13
2016 Florent Meyniel, Maxime Maheu, Stanislas Dehaene
Human Inferences about Sequences: A Minimal Transition Probability Model
published pages: e1005260, ISSN: 1553-7358, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005260
PLOS Computational Biology 12/12 2019-06-13
2017 Marie Amalric, Stanislas Dehaene
Cortical circuits for mathematical knowledge: evidence for a major subdivision within the brain\'s semantic networks
published pages: 20160515, ISSN: 0962-8436, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0515
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373/1740 2019-06-13
2017 Nelson, M., Dehaene, S., Pallier, C., & Hale, J.
Entropy Reduction correlates with temporal lobe activity.
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2017) 2019-06-13
2018 Marie Amalric, Isabelle Denghien, Stanislas Dehaene
On the role of visual experience in mathematical development: Evidence from blind mathematicians
published pages: 314-323, ISSN: 1878-9293, DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.09.007
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 30 2019-06-07
2018 Xinjian Jiang, Tenghai Long, Weicong Cao, Junru Li, Stanislas Dehaene, Liping Wang
Production of Supra-regular Spatial Sequences by Macaque Monkeys
published pages: 1851-1859.e4, ISSN: 0960-9822, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.047
Current Biology 28/12 2019-06-06
2019 Marie Amalric, Stanislas Dehaene
A distinct cortical network for mathematical knowledge in the human brain
published pages: 19-31, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.01.001
NeuroImage 189 2019-06-06
2019 Liping Wang, Marie Amalric, Wen Fang, Xinjian Jiang, Christophe Pallier, Santiago Figueira, Mariano Sigman, Stanislas Dehaene
Representation of spatial sequences using nested rules in human prefrontal cortex
published pages: 245-255, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.10.061
NeuroImage 186 2019-06-06
2019 Maxime Maheu, Stanislas Dehaene, Florent Meyniel
Brain signatures of a multiscale process of sequence learning in humans
published pages: , ISSN: 2050-084X, DOI: 10.7554/elife.41541
eLife 8 2019-06-06
2019 Lakretz, Y., Kruszewski, G., Desbordes, T., Hupkes, D., Dehaene, S., & Baroni, M.
The emergence of number and syntax units in LSTM language models
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
NAACL 2019-06-06
2019 Pedro Pinheiro-Chagas, Manuela Piazza, Stanislas Dehaene
Decoding the processing stages of mental arithmetic with magnetoencephalography
published pages: 124-139, ISSN: 0010-9452, DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2018.07.018
Cortex 114 2019-06-06

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