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Unformatted text preview: BioNB222 Cornell University Spring 2008 Ronald R. Hoy Lecture 30. Language and Communication I: Speech production and perception
Purves--Chapter 27, and selected websites: see course website for specifics. Lecture Outline
General points: Social behavior is a matter of communication. In humans, speech and language is the preeminent mode of communication; it's uniquely human. In any communication act/transaction, there is a sender of the message and its receiver. Communication is mediated by translation rules that govern the encoding of the message by the sender and its decoding in the recipient. Questions: how much of communication is controlled by "nature" (genetics) and how much by "nurture" (learning and the environment)? How is communication--especially its translation rules--represented in the brain? Language: The act of sending is called "speaking" (or writing) and the act of receiving is called hearing and comprehension (or reading). Speech is a motor encoding of vocal utterance and is done in the vocal tract and brain. Comprehension is a sensory/perceptual act involving auditory perception and the decoding of the vocal utterance is done in the brain. The vocal signals are specific to each language and can be broken down into vowels, consonants, and dipthongs. Neurobiological features of language. Is speech "special" in humans? No other animals have anything close to human language although symbolic representation and some modest vocal gestures are "speech like," but no animal has anything even close to human language in its normal form. If speech is special, is there a language "module" in the brain? This is a hot topic for debate but proponents cite evidence for such a module 1 The early neurologists discovered an encoding module, Broca's area, in the brain, and a decoding module, Wernicke's area, in the brain.. Both areas have anatomically delimited brain locations and in over 90% of humans, they are localized to the left hemisphere of the brain, and rarely in the right. Broca's and Wernicke's discoveries gave rise to the idea that the brain can be divided into anatomical regions with functional specificity--an idea that carries on today in the form of fMRI (optical imaging) studies of the brain. The Evolution of Language. Did language arise from gestures, like sign language? Giving "voice" to hand gestures? Like most burning issues in evolutionary psychology, there are no definitive studies that tell us how language evolved. But clever experiments and agile theorists have interesting angles on how evolution might have produced language. The link between sign language and speech arises from neurological findings that when deaf people who use American Sign Language (ASL) fall victim to stroke or injury to Broca's or Wernicke's area, produce the same kinds of communicational deficits as afflict spoken speech in the speaking population. How does language develop? Language development in young kids has been called a "big-bang" event because they become language competent in a relatively short period of time. The role of imitation seems to be very important. Although humans are born into the world with a potential for developing language, it does not happen unless tutoring takes place relatively early in development. The role of imitation is a cognitive process that takes place in the brain and recent findings indicate there is a specific and localized neural system called the "mirror system" that mediates imitative learning, possibly including language. The findings are very exciting, very new, and neuroscientists and linguists are busily working on the mirror system. Critical Periods and the problem of first language vs. second language acquisition. 2 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course BIO 2220 taught by Professor Hopkins,c.d. during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Spring '08