Sophie Slaats

Sophie is a PhD student in the department Psychology of Language and the research group Language and Computation in Neural Systems at the MPI. She studies spoken language comprehension. She is intrigued by the way our brain infers hierarchical structure and meaning from sound sequences, and how knowledge of these structures and meanings affect our perception of the sound.

Before coming to Nijmegen, she studied general linguistics and Spanish philology in Utrecht, Valencia, and Reading. After her master’s in Utrecht she spent a year studying the cognitive neuroscience of language during a master's at the BCBL in San Sebastián.

Aside from thinking about all things language, Sophie loves to draw, spend a lot of time outside, move her body in sports like pole dancing, surfing, and bouldering, and cook comforting (vegetarian) dishes.

Music or language? Sabar, the drum with a grammar

The streets of Nguekhokh, a small town in western Senegal, are filled with their own heartbeat: the beat of the Sabar drums. The musicians who play the Sabar and perform spoken word at parties and ceremonies say that ‘the drum speaks’. They don’t mean this figuratively. Sabar drumming has a grammar. So, is it music or a language?