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Plausibility Requirements
for a neurocognitive theory of language

The demands for a valid neurocognitive theory go beyond those usually considered in linguistics. They include these plausibility requirements:

(1) Operational plausibility

  • The system it proposes must be workable, in the sense of being able to be put into operation. The linguistic system has to be able to operate in real time to produce and understand speech. (The position adopted here rejects as unrealistic the proposal that our cognitive systems have a non-operating 'competence model' that is accessed somehow by a separate 'performance model'.)
  • (2) Developmental plausibility

  • The theory must allow for the learning and development we observe in normal children around the world. That is, it needs to include a plausible account of how the linguistic system it proposes can be learned by children.
  • (3) Neurological plausibility

  • The theory must be compatible with what is known about the brain from neuroscience. This requirement includes providing a plausible account at two levels:

  • (i) At the neural level, a hypothesis of how neural structures represent, use, and acquire linguistic information.

    (ii) At the systems level, the localization of functions in particular parts of the cortex and the connections among the subsystems which support their interactions in performing higher level functions like those involved in language processing.


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    This page was last modified on 27 April 2002.

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