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Lecture 11

PSY384H5 Lecture 11: Lecture 11

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Elizabeth Johnson

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Lecture 11 nd March 22 , 2012 Language and the Brain Two main causes of language loss: 1. Head injury 2. Stroke • Blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot • Bursts because of weakening of the blood vessel walls • Blood supply to brain cells is interrupted and cell death results The left hemisphere of the brain • is specialized for language  this is a general but true statement but is still debated • Sudden language difficulties are a good sign that a patient may have suffered damage to their left hemisphere **Question: What does the fact that language seems to be located in the left half of the brain mean? **Question: Does it mean that this part of the brain is genetically hard-wired specifically for speech and language? • ‘There is a clear evolutionary advantage in being able to communicate, but whether evolution has had time to encode a genetic basis for language structure (grammar) is unclear. • Presumably, there is a part of our brains that encodes the knowledge and experience relevant for riding a bicycle. But when that particular bit of neuro-anatomy was laid down, was it laid down with bicycle..?” - ? Aphasia • Disturbance of language usage or comprehension • Due to some form of trauma • Trauma resulting in aphasia almost always to  LEFT SIDE • It may involve the impairment of the power to speak, write, read, gesture, or comprehend spoken, written, or gestured language. • Two main types of aphasia o Broca’s area (more frontal area)  Impaired ability to speak  Still able to comprehend  Slow, laborious, non-fluent speech  Agrammatical utterances (Agrammatic aphasics)  Content versus function words (function words: a, the, etc)  Anomia (they can’t come up with words for things a lot; tip of the tongue phenomena)  Depending on size of the damage may exhibit general motor impairments o Wernicke’s area (more in temporal lobe)  No problem in producing speech at normal speaking rate  Difficulties comprehending (others and themselves)  Do not maintain logical, coherent conversation  Fluent (fluent aphasics)  neologisms (made up words)  Lexical meanings lost  Often unaware of deficit (sensitive) Conduction Aphasia • Problem with word repetitions • use some words incorrectly, mix up words • Aware of problem • Involvement of Arcuate fasciculus Lateralization • Trauma to the left cerebral hemisphere Disruptive to language • Evidence o Split-brain patients- medical reasons have corpus callosum severed o Corpus callosum – neural fibres separating two hemispheres  Patients with epilepsy reduced chance of seizures when severed  Patients cannot talk about things in their left visual field (right hemisphere) • Trauma to right hemisphere not so disruptive to language **Question: When does the brain become lateralized? • In most adults, the left planum temporal is significantly larger than the right Neonatal study • Anatomical studies have shown that this is also the case in neonates (1 day to 3 months, mean age 12 days) • As in adults, the anatomical differences were not as pronounced in newborn males as it was in newborn females o These are not functional differences, but are anatomical differences • Authors Conclusion o Neonatal asymmetry indicates that the infant is born with a pre-programmed biological capacity to process speech sounds o Wittelson & Pallie (1973)  this was from back in the day, now people want to know where this asymmetry is coming from Study: • Lateralization for language in 3 month olds (Dahaene-Lambertz et al., 2002) • Presented both sleeping and awake 3-month-olds with normal and revers
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