Johan J. Bolhuis

Professor of Cognitive Neurobiology, Department of Psychology, Utrecht University
Visiting Scholar, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge
Academic Visitor, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

A link to my inaugural lecture [Oratie PDF]

E- mail:
Tel. 030-2535404

Johan Bolhuis in gesprek met Theodor Holman in het programma OBA Live kunt u zien op youtube.
Het interview met Johan Bolhuis bij Pauw & Witteman kunt u hier nog eens bekijken.
Het interview met Johan Bolhuis bij het Radio 1 programma De kunt u hier bekijken.
Het antwoord van Johan Bolhuis op de vraag 'Zijn wij ons brein' in de Studium Generale 'Kettingreactie' serie kunt u zien op YouTube.
Johan Bolhuis' lecture 'Evolution, brain and behaviour: Pitfalls and opportunities' at the EMBL/EMBO Science and Society Conference 'The Difference between the Sexes' can be viewed here.
The public lectures by Johan Bolhuis and Robert Berwick (MIT) on language evolution can be viewed as streaming video.
De lezing van Johan Bolhuis, 'Mensen apen vogels na. Over de evolutie van het denken', voor Studium Generale van de Technische Universiteit Delft, kunt u nazien als streaming video.
De lezing van Johan Bolhuis, 'Het Evangelie van St. Charles', in de Studium Generale serie 'Na Darwin', kunt u nazien als streaming video.
De voordracht van Johan Bolhuis t.g.v. de honderdste geboortedag van Niko Tinbergen kunt u nazien als streaming video.

Brief biography

Johan J. Bolhuis obtained his PhD in Zoology (cum laude) at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and at the Department of Zoology, Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, UK. He was Visiting Professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Salzburg (Austria) and Associate Professor at the Institute of Biology, Leiden University, The Netherlands. He was appointed full professor of behavioural biology at Utrecht University in 2001, the same year that he received the Dutch Zoology Prize. In 2012 he was appointed as professor of Cognitive Neurobiology in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University. He has served as an Editor of Animal Behaviour and president of the Royal Dutch Zoological Society, is Editor of Behavioural Processes, and Academic Editor of PLoS ONE, and Scientific Reports, a new online and open access journal from the Publishers of Nature.

Main Research Interests

My main research interests are in the behavioural, neural and cognitive mechanisms of learning, memory and development. In particular, my current research is concerned with the neural mechanisms of birdsong memory, and the neurocognitive parallels between birdsong, speech and language. In addition, I have a theoretical interest in the relationship between evolution, cognition, and the brain.

For details, see my research pages.




New paper in Nature Human Behaviour: 'Language, mind and brain', by Friederici, Chomsky, Berwick, Moro and Bolhuis.

Special issue of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 'The Biology of Language', edited by Johan Bolhuis and Martin Everaert.

New paper in Trends in Cognitive Sciences: 'What is language and how could it have evolved', by Everaert, Huybregts, Chomsky, Tattersall, Moro and Bolhuis.

Noam Chomsky's talk (and Q&A) at the Academy Colloquium 'The Biology of Language', Amsterdam, 12 Dec 2014, can be viewed here.

New paper in PLoS Biology: How could language have evolved?, by Bolhuis, Tattersall, Chomsky and Berwick.

Key journal publications (for books, click on covers below)

  • Bolhuis, J.J. et al. (2000) Localized neuronal activation in the zebra finch brain is related to the strength of song learning. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97, 2282-2285. [pdf file]
  • Bolhuis, J.J. & Macphail, E.M. (2001) A critique of the neuroecology of learning and memory. Trends Cogn. Sci. 5, 426-433.
  • Bolhuis, J.J. & Gahr, M. (2006) Neural mechanisms of birdsong memory. Nature Rev. Neurosci., 7, 347-357
  • Gobes, S.H.M. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2007) Birdsong memory: A neural dissociation between song recognition and production. Curr. Biol., 17, 789-793.
  • Bolhuis, J.J. & Wynne, C.D.L. (2009) Can evolution explain how minds work? Nature, 458, 832-833.
  • Bolhuis, J.J., Okanoya, K. & Scharff, C. (2010) Twitter evolution: Converging mechanisms in birdsong and human speech. Nature Rev. Neurosci., 11, 747-759.
  • Bolhuis, J.J., Brown, G.R., Richardson R.C. & Laland, K.N. (2011) Darwin in mind: new opportunities for evolutionary psychology. PLoS Biol., 9, e1001109.
  • Berwick, R.C., Friederici, A.D., Chomsky, N. & Bolhuis, J.J. (2013) Evolution, brain, and the nature of language. Trends Cogn. Sci., 17, 89-98.
  • Bolhuis, J.J., Tattersall, I., Chomsky, N. & Berwick, R.C. (2014) How could language have evolved? PLoS Biology, 12(8), e1001934.

Complete list of publications - updated 15 Feb 2013



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