Lecture on November 26th: Language

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Psychology & Brain Sciences
Lori Astheimer Best

Behavioral Neuroscience, Lecture on November 26 th Language and the Brain Animal Communication: Many nonhuman species show elaborate vocal behavior.  Distinguish species  Signal readiness to mate  Alert group to danger Species-specific birdsongs, sung only by males, are learned from “tutors,” imitated and crystalized in the brain. Language in humans:  Phoneme: sound produced for a language.  Morpheme: smallest meaningful unit of a language.  Semantics: meanings of words (in sentences).  Syntax: grammatical rules of a language.  Prosody: rhythm and tone of a language. Multimodal (spoken, written, sign language)  Receptive and expressive components. Challenges of speech:  Learned implicitly  Rapid presentation  Transient signal  Signal variability o Within speakers (coarticulation) o Across speakers (accents)  Speech segmentation Speech segmentation: A trivial problem?  Foreign languages  Ambiguous segmentation Attention supports speech perception: Cocktail party effect,  Spatially selective attention o Select for speech at a given location.  What about a single speaker? o Temporally selective speaker  Select for important times in speech  Helps listeners focus on word onsets  Better attention is related to better language skills. Broca’s aphasia: Non-fluent or expressive aphasia.  Damage to lower portion of left frontal lobe.  Difficulty in language production. Wernicke’s aphasia: Fluent or receptive aphasia.  Damage to posterior portion of the left superior temporal gyrus.  Difficulty with language comprehension. The Wernicke-Geschwind model: In the 1960s, Geschwind revived and elaborated Wernicke’s ideas and came up with the predominant theory of language localization: The Wernicke-Geschwind model.  Deficits result from breaking interconnected network of components. Speaking a heard word: 1) primary-auditory cortex 2) Wernicke’s area 3) arcuate fasciculus (below the surface) 4) Broca’s area 5) motor cortex Speaking a written word: 1) primary visual cortex 2) angular gyrus 3) arcuate fasciculus 4) Broca’s area 5) motor cortex The arcuate f
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