PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - 18 Months, Aphasia, Christopher Story

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Published on 18 Apr 2013
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Chapter 9: Language and Thought
- Example: Christopher learned languages very quickly, but has trouble with simple cognitive tests and
can’t make decisions or reason he lives in a halfway house
- 5 major cognitive functions: acquiring and using language, forming concepts and categories, making
decisions, solving problems, reasoning (all necessary for everyday life)
Language and Communication: from ruling to meaning
- species have systems of communication to allow them to transmit messages to each other
Language- a system for communicating with others using signals that are combined according to
rules of grammar and convey meaning
Grammar- a set of rules that specify how the units of language can be combined to produce
meaningful messages
- Three distinctions of human language: 1) complex structure 2) words used to refer to intangible
things 3) languages used to categorize, name, and describe things to ourselves when we think
Complex Structure of Human Language- fairly recent evolutionary phenomenon
Basic Structure
- Phonemes- the smallest units of sound that are recognizable as speech rather than as random noises
( difference in the sound of p and b)
- Phonological rules- indicate how phonemes can be combined to produce speech sounds (ts in
German but not in English, if not followed described to have an accent)
- Morphemes- smallest meaningful unit of language (words like pat, that have meaning)
- Grammar rules of 2 categories:
1) Morphological rules- indicate how morphemes can be combined to form words
Two types of Morphemes: a) content= refer to things/events (dog, take) b) function= tying
sentences together (but, and) or indicate time (when), makes language complex
2) Syntactical rules- indicate how words can be combined to form phrases and sentences
Meaning: Deep vs. Surface Structure
Deep Structure- meaning of a structure
Surface Structure- how a sentence is worded
- To write a sentence you start with a deep structure and create a surface structure
- To read/ comprehend it is the opposite, after deep structure is extracted surface is forgotten
- Study shows people will forget the wording but rarely ever mistake the true meaning
Language Development
- 3 characteristic of learning: 1) children learn at a rapid rate 2) make few errors, errors made usually
from overgeneralizing rules learned 3) passive mastery of language develops faster than active
mastery (understand better than they speak)
Distinguishing Speech Sounds
- Babies can distinguish all contrasting sounds in human language but ability lost after 6 months and
only distinguish sounds in the language they hear spoken (Japanese baby study of r and s)
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Document Summary

Example: christopher learned languages very quickly, but has trouble with simple cognitive tests and can"t make decisions or reason he lives in a halfway house. 5 major cognitive functions: acquiring and using language, forming concepts and categories, making decisions, solving problems, reasoning (all necessary for everyday life) Language and communication: from ruling to meaning species have systems of communication to allow them to transmit messages to each other. Language- a system for communicating with others using signals that are combined according to rules of grammar and convey meaning. Grammar- a set of rules that specify how the units of language can be combined to produce meaningful messages. Three distinctions of human language: 1) complex structure 2) words used to refer to intangible things 3) languages used to categorize, name, and describe things to ourselves when we think. Complex structure of human language- fairly recent evolutionary phenomenon.

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