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Lecture 16

Thursday, Nov 6/2012 - Lecture 16

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan

Tuesday, November 8/2012 PSYC 2650 Lecture 16 Start of Exam Material There is a desire by many cognitive psychologists (including John Jonides) to resolve the problem of ecological validity Lab 7 • Deadline soon • There are only 2 labs in this part of the course • Related to imagery • Review Lab 7 results next Thursday, November 15 Language • Of interest to many subdisciplines of psychology • Very important in research in education • What do linguists find interesting about language and how do they investigate it? • How do cognitive psychologists approach language? Some Questions asked by Cognitive Scientists • Is language a uniquely human ability? • What are the relative roles of nature and nurture in language development? ◦ Major topic in many areas of development, not just language ◦ Language development story is very fruitful because we know a lot about the roles of nature and nurture in language development (particularly nurture is important) • What is the relationship between language and thought? ◦ eg. Linguistic determinism • Many disciplines are interested in language ◦ Psychology ◦ Linguistics ◦ Computer Science ◦ Philosophy ◦ Psycholinguistics ◦ Neuropsychology • Previous to our generation, there was very little cross talk between disciplines about language ◦ There is now a lot more interrelation between the disciplines ◦ Particularly, students are very open to evaluating many theories of language and applying methods of value from many varying fields Linguistics • The major difference between linguistics and psycholinguistics is captured by the study of the structure of natural language rather than its everyday use • Some fields are very theoretical in orientation, and they approach problems from the perspective of “theoretcally, this is how it should be” • Psychology is on the practical side, asking not “what should people be doing” but rather “what are people doing?” • Linguistics is a theoretical field • Economics is also a theoretcial field • People are often systematic in our behaviour (though somewhat random) but not always systematically rational Psycholinguistics • The study of language behaviour • Everyday use of language does not always correspond to linguistic theory • Psycholinguistcs has something unique to bring to the table because everyday use of language does not always match linguistic theory Linguistic Competence vs. Performance • Competence: a person's abstract knowledge of a language ◦ The domain of linguistics • Performance: the actual application of that knowledge in speaking or listening ◦ The domain of psycholinguistics Debate • Does competence underlie performance? • Psychologists suggest no: making linguistic judgements has little to do with everyday language use ◦ If I asked you about the rules of English vs.Asking you to use language and inferring what you know based on how you've used the language History: Behaviourism • Empiricism/Nurture: our language abilities are learned (not innate) • Mental: Our language abilities are nothing but stimulus-response associations ◦ Red circle around mental with a slash through Criticisms of BehaviouristAccount of Language • Evidence for innate constraints on language (nature) • Chomsky (1959) • Skinner came out with an account of language that was behavioural and Chomsky criticised it ◦ Key point was evidence for language being innate ◦ If you look at all the world's language, what you find is that all the languages have something in common ◦ You can have 2 linguistic cultures that were never exposed to each other, but have similarities ◦ Current theory is that we have a genetic endowment to learn language, even though our experience determines which language we learn when we are young Relationship Between Language and Thought • Theories relevant (not all mutually exclusive) ◦ 1. “Thought” = Language ◦ 2. Language determines thought “Thought” = Language • According to this view there is no such thing as thought • How did behaviourism explain the subjective experience of thought? • Thought was considered “magic” because it was unobservable • Yet, thinking was a common occurence and everyone experiences is it even if behaviourists deny that thought can be studied • The answer to them was that thinking is a form of subvocal speech ◦ Speech is a vocal-motor phenomenon ◦ Thinking, then, is merely a speaking phenomenon without converting the thought to motor movements (ie. Out-loud speech) • Evidence for: ◦ Recordings of subvocal speech activity while subjects are engaged in thought ◦ Placed on muscles that are involved in speaking ◦ Record electrical activity that has not reached the threshold of movement ◦ Shows that when a person is thinking, there is below-threshold activity in the muscles that are normally involved in talking • Evidence against: ◦ People can still think when completely paralyzed ◦ Is this really evidence against? ▪ There is a lot of understanding now that there is a level of activation in the brain that plans vocalization even without activation of the muscles • Evidence for pre-motor planning before issuing commands to the muscles to speak? ▪ Memory for meaning rather than exactly what was said • If we were purely linguistic beings, then you would assume that what you would remember is the literal words that were spoken to you • However, when we remember, we do not remember the specific words but remember the semantic meaning behind the communication • Non-human animals seem to think ◦ Increasing comfort among individuals who study cognition that thinking is
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