Paul van den Broek, born in Leiden, the Netherlands, in 1955. Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Guy Bond Chair in Reading at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Golestan Fellow (1 September 1999 – 30 June 2000)
During my year as a Golestan Fellow I investigated the cognitive and neurological processes that take place during comprehension and memory of texts. In particular, I focussed on the inferential activities by which readers identify semantic connections between text elements and, in doing so, construct a coherent mental representation of the text. Understanding these processes is important for theoretical as well as practical reasons. From a theoretical point of view, it provides insight into one of the most complex and unique of human activities and, therefore, into the functioning of the human mind. From a practical point of view, understanding the comprehension processes and the possible sources of comprehension failure has direct and far-reaching implications for instructional practice, ranging from prevention and remediation to the design of educational materials.
My work consisted of three components. First, I developed and tested a theoretical and computational model on the cognitive processes in reading comprehension. This work has resulted in several papers which have been submitted for publication or are in press in leading professional journals. Second, I conducted an extensive review of the literature on brain functioning. The aim was to develop a comprehensive research programme on the neurological substrates of the comprehension process, thus connecting the behavioural and medical sciences. The results of the first studies of this programme will be presented at a conference in the summer of 2000. Finally, I established collaborative research programmes with colleagues at various institutions in the Netherlands and in other countries in Europe. These meetings have resulted in a conference on cognitive science planned for next year at NIAS