BASIS OF LANGUAGE
Sydney M. Lamb
Department of Linguistics
Houston, Texas, USA
"If the human mind were simple
enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it."
This tutorial offers an orientation to
the field of neurocognitive linguistics, which explores how the brain learns,
represents, and utilizes linguistic information. We aim to reach a better
understanding of both language and the brain by examining each in relation
to the other: We can explore how the brain works through investigation
of language, and we can better understand the nature of language by examining
its relationship to the brain.
The analysis of linguistic data has revealed
systematic structure, some of which reflects properties of its neurocognitive
basis. Also, language is richly connected to other cognitive systems, as
is clear from the fact that we are able to use language to talk about so
many different kinds and aspects of human experience. It therefore occupies
a central position in neurocognitive structure, which allows us to gain
access to an understanding of other cognitive subsystems.
Topics to be considered
No previous knowledge of neuroscience is required.
What does a person's linguistic knowledge
How phonemes, words, phrases, concepts,
and other units are related to one another; linguistic knowledge as a network
of relationships; distributed representation of information.
How do linguistic processes like speaking
Speaking and other processes as the spread
of activation in the network; parallel processing.
How are thoughts associated with speech?
The meaning of meaning. Visual, auditory,
and conceptual subsystems and their interconnections with the linguistic
subsystems; bidirectional processing.
How is the relational network related to neural
Introduction to the cerebral cortex, cortical
columns, and neurons; the columnar nection hypothesis.
How does the brain learn and remember?
False metaphors for memory and mind: the
storehouse, the computer, the hologram; memory as distributed connectivity;
the abundance hypothesis; learning as a Darwinian process at the synaptic
Does the human brain have an innate system
The proximity principle as a consequence
of the learning hypothesis, and its application to localization hypotheses;
confirmation from aphasiology; explaining exceptions to normal localization;
consequences of connectionism for the innateness question.
(This tutorial will be given in English.)