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Neurolinguistics

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Helen Olishevska

on 8 October 2012

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Transcript of Neurolinguistics

Neurolinguistics Methods in Neurolinguistics History Language area in Phrenology Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language.

Harry Whitaker founded the Journal of Neurolinguistics in 1985

As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methodology and theory from fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive science, neurobiology, communication disorders, neuropsychology, and computer science. Lesion studies
Neuroanatomy
Stimulation studies
Neuroimaging
Electrophysiology
Psycholiguistics
Language Pathology Language acquisition The relationship between brain structures and language acquisition
Infants from all linguistic environments go through similar and predictable stages (such as babbling),
To find correlations between stages of language development and stages of brain development. 
The physical changes (known as neuroplasticity) that the brain undergoes during second language acquisition, when adults learn a new language. Willium Wunddt: Founder of experimental psychology. Language as mechanism to transform thought into sentence
Gall: Phrenology
Broca : First case of expressive aphasia
Wernikes: First case of comprehension aphasia Broca’s Aphasia Paul Broca 1861 Autopsy of a patient who could understand, with normal speech apparatus but could not speak or write a sentence.
Only articulate sound he could make was “tan”
After autopsying eight similar patient with lesion in the left frontal lobe
He made a famous statement that “we speak with the left hemisphere”
1) language articulation lies the third frontal convolution of the inferior frontal gyrus;
2) there is left hemisphere dominance in language articulation;
3) understanding language is a different cognitive task than producing it. Handedness and Language The percentage of left-handers in the normal population as a function of age (based on more than 5000 individuals). Taken at face value, these data indicate that right-handers live longer than left-handers. Another possibility, however, is that the paucity of elderly left-handers at present may simply reflect changes over the decades in the social pressures on children to become right-handed. Slips of the tongue

Another type of speech error is commonly described as a slip of the tongue.
This produces expressions such as a long shory stort (instead of ‘make a long story short’), use the door to open the key, and a fifty-pound dog of bag food.
Slips of this type are sometimes called spoonerisms after William Spooner, an Anglican clergyman at Oxford University, who was renowned for his tongue-slips.
E.g.: black bloxes ‘black boxes’


  Slips of the ear

How the brain tries to make sense of the auditory signal it receives.
These have been called slips of the ear.
It may also be the case that some Malapropisms (e.g. transcendental medication) originate as slips of the ear.
However, some problems with language production and comprehension are the result of much more serious disorders in brain function. Different views on the relation between brain and language Localism tries to find locations or centers in the brain for different language functions.
Associationism places language functions in the connections between different areas of the brain, making it possible to associate, for example, perceptions of different senses with words and/or “concepts”.
Dynamic localization of function assumes that functional systems of localized sub-functions
perform language functions. Such systems are
dynamic, so that they can be reorganized during
language development or after a brain damage. • Holistic theories consider many language
functions as handled by large parts of the brain
working together.
• Evolution based theories stress the relation
between how brain and language evolved over
time in different species, how they develop in
children and how adults perform language
functions. The central questions of neurolinguistics • What happens to language and communication after brain damage of different types?

• How did the ability to communicate and the ability to use
language develop in the evolution of the species? How can we
relate this development to the evolution of the brain?

• How do children learn to communicate and use language?
How can we relate their acquisition of language to the
development of their brains?

• How can we measure and visualize processes in the brain that
are involved in language and communication?

• How can we make good models of language and
communication processes that will help us to explain the
linguistic phenomena that we study?

• How can we make computer simulations of language
processing, language development and language loss?

• How can we make experiments that will allow us to test our
models and hypotheses about language processing? J. H. Jackson 1874
• two levels of language: automatic and propositional.
• The automatic level consists of stereotyped sentences,
certain neologisms (= newly made words) and swearing.
• The propositional level is defined partly by its form
(sentences that express a relation between two objects) and
partly by its degree of flexibility (that it can be determined
by semantics and by the situation).
• The use of propositions is seen as a superimposed level.
Speech is seen as a part of thinking.
• Aphasia stands for an inability to “propositionalize”, i.e.,
to use language in the service of thought, which is why
intelligence is necessarily reduced.• Jackson applied Spencer’s evolutionary principles
and considered the nervous system functioning
and developing in a hierarchical way:
a) from simple to more complex
b) from lower centers to higher centers
c) from more organized centers to more complex
centers
d) from automatic to intentional • He distinguished three levels of function:
elementary reflexes, automatic actions and
intentional actions. These levels are not
localized to any centers.

• Localization rather is vertically oriented,
from low level (spinal column and brain
stem) to intermediate level (motor and
sensory) and further to high level (frontal). The predominant cluster of influences in
neurolinguistics during the nineteen-seventies and
eighties, and also today, is a cluster combining the
following parts:
1) classical influence from the Lichtheim-Geschwind models,
2) linguistic structuralism and/or generative grammar,
3) test psychology, group studies using statistics (lately
also case studies),
4) serial modeling and
5) therapy of mainly "neoclassical" or "cognitive
psychology" type (in the terminology of Howard
and Hatfield 1987). Boston Group Geschwind was very influential in the so called
Boston school, a group of aphasia researchers
connected to the Aphasia Research Center in
Boston. This was the most influential group in
aphasia research in the U.S. and in large parts of
the western world from the 1960’s. It was also
strongly influenced by Noam Chomsky’s
linguistic theories and by test psychology
tradition.
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