Lecture 2 PSYA02 Notes
Speech and Comprehension: Perceiving Verbal Behaviour, Understanding Verbal
Behaviour and Brain
Mechanisms of Verbal Behaviour
• An orderly system of communication from a finite number of rules in a
language, a normal adult can produce an infinite number of sentences
• Most complex ability that humans possess equips our species in a unique
way from other species. We can benefit from others experiences and our own.
As well, we are able to store our language ( the temporal and spatial
boundaries are limitless).
• Most impt. Of all social behaviours (apart from sexual)
Perceiving Verbal Behaviour Recognition of Speech Sounds
• Phonemes (basic): smallest unit of sound that contributes to the meaning of a
spoken word (e.g. syllable)
• Context affects the perception of phonemes (e.g. sounds that precede and
follow each phoneme)
• Experiment by Ganong: He created a novel speech sound that lies between the
sounds of the “k” and the “g” phoneme and carried now linguistic meaning in
the English language. He presented it in two situations. When it was presented
preceding –iss, people claimed the word as kiss, when presented preceding –ift,
people perceived the word as gift.
Understanding Verbal Behaviour: Syntax (i.e. grammar), semantics (i.e. reference)
and pragmatics (i.e. world knowledge, shared experiences)
Syntax: Important syntactical cues
• Word order who says what to whom (i.e. subject then verb then predicate).
• Word class grammatical categories (e.g. verbs and nouns content words;
and & but function words)
• Affixes prefix/suffix, meant to alter meaning of the word (e.g. gift; re-gift; re-
• Prosody stress, rhythm, changes in pitch (alters meani