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					                  Language I: Structure
Defining language: symbolic, rule-based system of
communication shared by a community
Elements of language:
Phonemes: smallest units of sound (gesture)
Morphemes: smallest units of meaning
Syntax or grammar: rules of construction
Properties of language:
Generational transmission
              Neuroscience of language
• Broca’s area/Wernike’s area
• Left anterior frontal (adjacent to Broca’s): semantic
• Angular gyrus: important in phonological storage;
  written words – internal speech
                     Language I

• Chomskyian approach to language: reaction to
  inadequacies of behavioral approach, argued for
  large ‘innate’ element to language development
• Problems with behaviorist view:
• Imitation and differential reinforcement –
  neglects creative use of language of ‘failures of
• Deep structure, surface structure and
  transformational rules to connect each. Trans.
  Grammar too complicated to be learned.
Deep/surface structure and transformational grammar
    Language II: Reading and text comprehension
Saccadic eye movement studies indicate that reading must take
place in less than 50msec
How can processing be so efficient?
Word superiority effect: letters in words more quickly
processed than unconnected letters or letters presented alone
Rayner’s (1975) text change studies: found that semantic
changes affected text processing with 1-6 characters spaces
while only graphic changes noticed 7-12 spaces away. Important
point – planning of next saccade based on ‘predictions’ of
upcoming text.
Priming studies: show semantic spread of activation; further
aiding predictive process.
Studies with poor readings show deficiencies in saccade
Word superiority effect
      Rayner’s text-change studies
•   the butter is jiggling
•   the butler is jiggling (semantic change)
•   the butter is giggling (semantic change)
•   the butter is wiggling (graphic change)
Eye movements during reading
              Lexical Decision Task

•   Word or non-word RT measure
•   FORK = word; DXMZ = non-word
•   SPOON – FORK (sig reduction in rt)
•   Conclusion: related words stored more closely
    together in memory
                 Language II: Text comprehension
• Brandsford & Franks: sentence processing study showed that
  propositional content of sentences retained in LTM, not verbatim
  record. Note: new unrecognized sentences retained words from
  original sentences.
   •   The ants were in the kitchen; Ants ate the jelly. Jelly on the table; The ants in the
       kitchen ate the jelly on the table; Jelly was in the kitchen.
• Bartlett ‘war of the ghosts’ study: schematic processing of text
• Schema: representation used to encode, organize, interpret and
  recall information
• Kintch’s model of reading:
   –   prop content of sentence encoded into STM
   –   Prop content of next sentence encoded and connected
   –   If match, continue; if no match, search LTM for bridging assumption
   –   Activation of goal schemata to guide encoding process
   –   Increasing bridging assumptions complicates encoding process
Kintch’s model of text comprehension
Rocky Raccoon (Lennon/McCartney)

Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
Hit young Rocky in the eye Rocky didn't like that
He said I'm gonna get that boy
So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon

Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival
His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy
Her name was Magil and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy
Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoe down
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot, he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner, ah

Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, doc it's only a scratch
And I'll be better I'll be better doc as soon as I am able

And now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival, ah
Oh yeah, yeah
          Language II: PDP model of reading

• PDP model characteristics: weighted connections
  between nodes; spreading activation; excitatory
  and inhibitory connections
• Both stimulus properties and top-down processes
  affect patterns of activation
• Text exists at 3 interconnected levels
  – Feature
  – Letter
  – Word
  Neurocognitive studies show frontal activation for
    semantic task; only occipital activation for visual tasks.
Connectionist or PDP model of memory
                Language III: Evolution

• Animal studies of language suggest some
  linguistic capacity present in other species
• Honeybees – displacement
• Vervet monkey alarm calls – referential capacity
  (precursor to words)
• Ape language studies (primitive grammar), no
  speech, but manual language
• Pidgin to creole studies
• Evolution – possible manual to protolanguage to
  full-blown language progression
     Studies in Animal Language
• A number of species have been studies:
  dolphins, parrots, whales, etc
• Most studies have involved nonhuman apes:
  Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos
• Why: close relatives of humans, big brains,
  highly social
         History of Ape language studies
• Cross-fostering: raising an ape as a human
• 1950’s Keith and Cathy Hayes: Viki project,
  teaching a chimpanzee to speak. Big disaster.

• Beatrix and Alan Gardner: Washoe project,
  teaching an ape sign language
       History of Ape language studies
• Francine Patterson and Koko:
  A gorilla learns sign language
• Herb Terrace and Nim
        History of Ape language studies

• Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and the bonobo Kanzi
      What do apes know about
• Some elementary syntax
• Some evidence of displacement
• 100-200 word vocabulary
• Use is primarily utilitarian, not for sharing
  experience; 90% of Kanzi’s utterances are
• About at level 2.5 child

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