Chapter 7- Imagery:
visual images in our head
the myth of imageless thought
illustrates a tight coupling between thinking and perceptual processes
mental simulation of seeing
o conditions are recreated from LTM, similar brain regions are activated
as if we were actually where we are thinking about
enables us to accomplish things far away from actual sites
can also imagine paces we have never seen
Paivio’s Dual-Coding Theory:
Defines imagery as the ease with which something elicits a mental image.
Dualcoding Theory: The theory that verbal and nonverbal systems are alternative ways
of representing systems.
o E.g. An event can be described in words using the verbal system, or can be
imaged using the nonverbal system.
The relationship between the 2 systems:
o Incoming info/input (can be either in verbal or nonverbal form) Picked up by
sensory systems Represented by either the verbal or nonverbal system.
Logogens: The units that comprise the verbal system.
o Contains the info underlying our use of a word.
o Operates sequentially
Ex: when you listen to a sentence, the words are not present all at once,
but come one after another.
Imagens: The units that comprise the nonverbal system.
o Contain info that generates mental images.
o Correspond to natural objects, holistic parts of objects, and natural groupings of
o Operates synchronously, so a variety of mental images can be generated from
The two systems can work together
o Ex: If you are asked to describe your dining room table (and it is not currently in
view), you first imagine your table (nonverbal system) and then use words to
describe it (verbal system).
Words that easily elicit a mental image are concrete (table), whereas words not easily
eliciting a mental image are abstract (purpose).
o Concrete: Objects, persons, places, or things that can be experienced by the
1 Words that are not concrete but still elicit vivid mental imagery (love, pain) are often
Research Related to Dual-Coding Theory:
Paivio found that it is easier to remember concrete words than abstract words.
Also found that concrete words were higher in imagery than the abstract ones.
o Concrete words can be coded by either the verbal or nonverbal system, but
abstract words tend to only be coded by the verbal system because it does not tend
to elicit much of an image.
Dual-Coding Theory and the Brain:
Left hemisphere verbal system
o Better controls speech and processing verbal material
o Tasks such as episodic memory, perceptual recognition, comprehension.
Right hemisphere nonverbal system
o Better performs nonverbal tasks
o Face identification, recognition of nonverbal sounds.
But fMRI evidence does not fully support this theory
o Right hemisphere should become more active when processing concrete relative
to abstract words.
o Study: Lexical decision task where participants must indicate whether each
stimulus is a word or not; were presented concrete words, abstract words, and
pseudo words (nonwords); This way they do not intentionally process abstract and
concrete words differently, but still display brain activation for processing the two
different kinds of words.
Results: Abstract and concrete words elicited different patterns of activity
in the left hemisphere, but the concrete words did not elicit heightened
activity in the right hemisphere.
o Concluded that the theory is too simplistic.
o Males outperform females on mental rotation tasks
o Effects of brain training
o Use videogames
o ABA design (baseline measure, then let them play videogames, then post
videogame training measured mental ability)
o Experimental group: played game which requires spatial navigation
o Control group played game which required balance
o If training helps woman get better, experimental group should improve
their spatial ability
Both groups improved with trainings, but women observed larger
2 Brain mechanisms
o Imagery seems to involve higher order mental processes
o Expect to see activity in the frontal/parietal/temporal lobes, areas
associated with LTM
o BUT turns out imagery activates areas in visual sensory areas
o Feedforward vs. feedback mechanisms
Feedforward (from sensory areas to cognitive areas)
Process gets processed to higher degree
Back to front of the head
Feedback (top down, from cognitive areas to sensory areas)
Front to back of the head
What we imagine might influence what we perceive
Can interfere with each other
o Do brain networks for visual perception and visual imagery overlap?
About 2/3 overlap in brain mechanisms of vision and imagery
o asked participants to either visualize objects or to
perceive objects while their brain activity is recorded
o in imagery condition, prompted to remember an
object and judge whether the imagined object is
wider than it is taller
o in perception condition, judge whether the
perceived object is wider than taller
frontal areas perception and imagery
parietal areas complete overlap
visual areas more activation in perception
than imagery (see a difference in visual cortex)
only part of the brain where you see
don‟t see differences in higher order structures
patient data can people with visual agnosia use
o Yes, preserved imagery even though damage to
visual processing centers
o Upper/lower case letter task
Cannot recognize letters but can draw them
o Argues that primary visual areas are not necessary for
Both visual object perception and visual
imagery are subserved by a common visual
system but in D.F.'s case, the critical sensory
input to this common system is defective or
3 absent, whereas the access route from stored
memories of objects is still intact.
Typical subjects data
o Reversals of bi-stable figures are harder to flip when
imagined relative to when we perceive them
perception richer than imagery
Imagery and Mnemonics:
Mnemonic techniques: Procedures used to aid memory.
Imagery is a good mnemonic technique
o Method of loci: A mnemonic technique based on places and images.
Person learns the loci (places) first, and place a bizarre image in a locus.
Ex: learning loci in a building to build a cognitive map of the building;
and then place each image in a particular locus so you can walk through
the mental loci and collect the images stored there.
Bizarre imagery: The hypothesis that bizarre images facilitate recall.
o Remembering Gordon‟s name by choosing a prominent feature (such as his large
nose), and constructing the image of a garden growing over his nose.
Such an image can be placed in a loci
o Distinctiveness: The hypothesis that the more distinctive the item, the easier it is
Imagery and Distinctiveness:
The possibility that memory is facilitated by bizarreness has been extensively
Found that bizarreness can have an effect under certain circumstances:
o Bizarre items easier to remember when they occur along with common items.
Items that are completely bizarre are no better remembered than items that
are completely normal.
Related to Von Restorff Effect:
o If one item in a set is different from the others, it will be more likely to be
o In a set of completely bizarre items, none of them are distinctive.
Humor and Distinctiveness:
Humorous items are more memorable than non-humorous items.
o Humorous cartoons were better remembered than (non-humorous) cartoons that
were entirely literal or were entirely weird.
Possible that the effects of bizarreness may be due in part to the fact that bizarre items
often strike people as funny.
4 The Problem of Distinctiveness:
It is a common belief that storing a memory (or an object) in a peculiar/special place will
help them better remember it (making it distinctive).
o This is problematic because it has been found that items rates low in likelihood
are actually remembered less well than items rated high in likelihood, regardless
of the level of rated memorability
Study gave participants sentences describing the location of objects (“the
milk is in the fridge”, “the tickets are in the freezer”) and had some
participants rate the sentences for memorability, asked others to rate them
for likelihood, and asked the rest to imagine putting each item in the
location described. After testing their memory for the locations, items
rated with low likelihood were less remembered even if they were rated
high in memorability.
Concluded that distinctiveness is a good memory aid for
remembering individual items, but not for remembering
associations between items.
Special places strategy: People try to put items in places that they can easily remember,
but that others will be unable to discover.
o Difficult to satisfy these two requirements
o Suggested to not put things in special places or creating unique passwords
because it involves relying on distinctiveness alone for recall.
Metamemory: The name for our beliefs about how memory works.
Synaesthesia and Eidetic Imagery:
Synaesthesia: The power of the stimulus appropriate to one sense (a sound) to arouse and
experience appropriate to another sense (a color).
o Synaesthetes: People who experience synaesthesia regularly.
Runs in families, appears more often in women.
o Most commonly reported experience of this is Chromaesthesia: Colored hearing;
experience of a color in response to an auditory stimulus.
Inducer: The cue that elicits a synaesthetic experience
Concurrent: The synaesthetic response itself.
Synaesthesia may act as a memory aid
o Ex: Case of a synaesthete who had amazing memory for digits, since each digit
had a consistent color associated with it.
Theories of Synaesthesia:
Synaesthesia believed to reveal the underlying unity of the senses
5 o More recent version of theory: „The newborn‟s senses are not well differentiated
but are still intermingled in a synaesthetic confusion”. The connections that cause
these effects are eventually pruned to allow the senses to become differentiated.
o Apoptosis: Programmed pruning of neurons
o Perhaps adult synaesthesia occurs because this pruning failed to run its course
But there is more to this than pruning since concepts can elicit
synaesthesia, which is different from it being elicited by percepts, since it
does not result from cross-activation between sensory areas.
Case of synaesthete who more quickly responded with the color
corresponding to the sum of two numbers than the corresponding
colors to the numbers itself. So the synaesthete is producing a color
in response to a concept (the sum of the two stimuli).
Strong and Weak Synaesthesia:
Strong synaesthetes: People who are susceptible to an inducer in one sensory modality
(a sound) producing a concurrent image in another sensory modality (a color).
Weak synaesthetes: People who can appreciate cross-modal associations, without having
strong synaesthetic experiences.
o Most of us are weak synaesthetes.
o Most people tend to perceive sneezes to be brighter than coughs, and sunlight to
be louder than moonlight.
o Suggested that these associations develop over childhood.
o Facilitates the use of figurative language (a metaphor).
Icon: The initial, brief representation of the information contained in a visual stimulus.
o Seems to depend on the eye being stationary (rare)
Eidetic imagery: Images projected onto the external world that persists for a minute or
more event after a stimulus, such as a picture, is removed.
Like iconic, eideteic imagery persists after a stimulus is removed but does not decay as
Similar to synaesthesia; both are examples of Cognitive dedifferentiation: Perceptual
processes that typically function independently are fused instead.
Eidetic imagery entails the de-differentiation of imagery and perception; fused so that the
image is experienced as a percept.
Is experienced not as a vivid mental image, but as something located „out there‟
o The image can be scanned and its parts described
It is more common in children than in adults.
Though more detailed, are no more accurate than regular memories.
6 Photographic memory is a type of eidetic imagery, except eidetic imagery is rarely
photographic (demonstrated by how it tends to be no more accurate than regular
Vividness of Visual Imagery:
Can measure vividness of visual imagery using the Vividness of Visual Imagery
Vividness defined in terms of „clarity and liveliness‟
However high score on the VVIQ does not correlate with performance on memory tasks.
o Relation between vivid imagery and memory is complex.
o Possible that vividness of visual imagery is proportional to how familiar you are
with a topic.
Vividness not an index of accuracy of memory, only its richness.
o Possible to have vivid imagery of false events.
Mental images are not just static but can also have motion.
Study: had participants determine if two drawings depicted the same object or not; the
object in the two drawings would be depicted at different angles / from two different
o The greater the angular rotation required, the longer it takes the participants to
make a decision
o Concluded that participants make the decision by a process of Mental rotation
o Speed of mental rotation ~60 degrees/second, ~17ms/degree
Is Mental Rotation a Right Hemisphere Process?:
Possible that mental rotation is a right hemisphere process, since it is a more dynamic
process than Paivo‟s theory of concrete words being restricted to the right hemisphere.
o Evidence is not decisive; some mental rotation tasks were lateralized to the right
hemisphere, and others were not.
The right hemisphere may be preferentially engaged when the mental
rotation task is a simple one.
Scanning Mental Images:
Objective distances are perceived in our mental images of perceived scenes (The true
distances between objects in the real world are preserved in our mental images).
o Study: Had participants memorize a map with several different locations.
Afterwards asked the participants to imaging „a little black speck zipping in the
shortest straight line‟ from one specified location to another specified location.
7 The larger the distance between the specified locations on the map, the longer it
took for the participants to mentally scan between the two locations.
Categorical distance: The number of units traversed during mental scanning, for
instance, landmarks on an island map, rooms in a building, or counties in a state.
o Study: Had participants memorize a map of a museum, with different well-known
artists being displayed in each room (each room is of different sizes). Walking
across a room from one painting to another is objective distance. Walking from a
painting in one room to a painting in another room is categorical distance. Both
categorical distance and objective distance determined the amount of time taken
for participants to travel mentally between one painting and another.
o Suggests that images may be structure hierarchically, with object distances being
nested within objective distances.
Images as Anticipation:
Images as anticipations: The hypothesis that an image is a readiness to perceive
o At any point we anticipate picking up certain kinds of info, and not others. We
better perceive information which we anticipate.
Study: The participant‟s task was to imagine a letter superimposed on a grid (see figure
7.10); when a dot probe would appear on one of the grids, the participant had to decide
whether the grid the dot is on also belonged in the imaginary letter. Found that
performance on this task with imaginary letters is strikingly like performance when
letters are actually present on the grid.
Imagery is an active process that prepares you for perceiving information, and not just a
passive representation of information.
Images and Ambiguous Figures:
Question: Can ambiguous figures be imagined as ambiguous? be able to shift
perception of imaginary ambiguous thing from duck to rabbit back and forth
o Study: Showed participants examples of ambiguous figures, then presented them
the duck/rabbit figure and told them to remember it so they can draw it later. After
showing another example of how looking at different parts of the ambiguous
figure can show a new perception, asked participants to try to see the duck and the
rabbit in their mental image.
No one was able to do this, though they could draw the duck/rabbit figure
Argued that mental images are not ambiguous, unlike perceptions.
However, mental images may be ambiguous as emergent properties: New properties
that emerge when a mental image is constructed.
8 o Study: Asked participants to imagine an X overlapping an H. Participants reported
geometric figures and letters such as M and N (the new properties that emerged
during construction of the ambiguous image).
o Also evidenced by finding that images can be reinterpreted (When mentally
rotating an image of a woman upside down, people can mentally discover the
illusion where the upside down young woman now looks like an old woman).
Often argued that imagery is an Analog form of representation: The hypothesis that a
mental image embodies the essential relationships of the thing it represents.
Egocentric Perspective Transformations:
Tasks such as imagining objects in a scene while reading a narrative require egocentric
perspective transformations: Changes in point of view where instead of imagining
yourself as an object rotated in space (such as the previous mental rotation task), you
imagine yourself moving, while the objects in the imagined environment remain still.
Study: Had particpants read a narrative describing a scene with objects in front, below, to
the right and left, behind of them. Afterwards asked them questions as to where the
objects mentioned in the story were located.
o All participants required mental imagery to recall the scene.
o Located something quickly if above, below, or ahead of you. Takes longer to
locate something behind you, perhaps because you have to imagine yourself turn
Locating something to the right or left is a relatively slow process;
possibly because we imagine ourselves upright in a Spatial framework:
An imaginary space with one vertical (above-below) and two horizontal
dimensions (ahead-behind and left-right), and it‟s hardest to tell left-right
because these are the only symmetrical dimensions.
Controversy Concerning the Nature of Mental Imagery:
Some feel that the importance of mental imagery has been overestimated.
Center of debate is how knowledge is represented.
If theory of Propositional knowledge (The hypothesis that knowledge about the world is
stored in memory in the form of propositions) is true, what role do images play in
o One possibility is that images are epiphenomenal; a byproduct that serves no
actual function for the mind‟s functioning, is merely decorative.
Pointed out that images aren‟t „two-dimensional moving pictures‟ on the surface of the
visual cortex, which we scan to extract info, since imagining multiple viewpoints requires
a process of inference that is susceptible to error.
Also pointed out that mental rotation is often only accurate in highly practiced tasks
(requires more thinking to mentally rotate an unfamiliar, unpredictable object).
9 Cognitive Maps and Mental Models:
Basic Properties of Cognitive Maps:
Cognitive Map: Information from the environment is „worked over and elaborated .. into
a tentative, cognitivelike map … indicating routes and paths and environmental
o This map determines our behavior.
Broad and comprehensive maps more useful; narrow, overspecialized maps contain info
about only one or a few routes through the environment, and are not as easy to employ to
a variety of situations.
Our cognitive maps are partly convenient fictions, designed to represent reality in a way
that strikes us as useful but that may not be very accurate.
Cognitive Maps and the Hippocampus:
Cognitive map associated with the Hippocampus
o Size of hippocampus is much bigger in London taxi drivers who have extensive
knowledge about the city‟s streets.
Egocentric Frames of Reference:
When navigating the environment, you can either use a cognitive map, or you can use an
Egocentric frame of reference: People (while imagining themselves as the center of
action) use information available from their current perspective to orient themselves.
Allows rather than constantly consulting cognitive map, the creation of a temporary
representation that is continuously updated.
Path integration: One‟s position in relation to an important location is continuously
updated as one moves through the environment.
Cognitive Maps as Mental Models:
Mental model: The theory that we construct a mental model of the situation to which a
set of premises refers, on the basis of which we draw conclusions, i.e. representations of
situations that enable us to understand and reason about them.
o E.g. people often have mental models of the way in which machines, such as
vacuum cleaners work.
Mental models are often unscientific and even superstitious, but may still be useful fore
representing the world.
10 Chapter 9-Language:
The Structure of Language:
Wilhelm Wundt is credited with founding the first psychology laboratory and the first to do
important work on psychology of language
All aspects of a situation we could attend to are available simultaneously
o We can shift our attention from one aspect to another, and consider relationships between
various parts of a situation
To describe relationships between different parts of our overall experience of a situation Wundt
o Tree Diagrams: a description of a process that proceeds from one level at which a
number of relationships are simultaneously present to other levels at which these
relationships are serially ordered as a succession of words in a sentence (e.g.
subject=music, predicate=loudness -> “the music is loud”)
Noam Chomsky‟s early formulations of sentence production is similar to Wundt‟s
Chomsky is one of the most important figures in the history of linguistics
o A sentence is a grammatical utterance and is recognized as such by a native speaker of
o The set of possible sentences in a language is infinite
Language: is open-ended and consists of all possible sentences
Speech: consists of those sentences that are actually spoken and is only a small subset of
Grammar: set of rules used by everyone to generate sentences in a given language
o Finite set of rules that is in principle able to generate an infinite set of sentences
A grammatical utterance need not be meaningful
o Sharp distinction between grammar and semantics (study of meaning)
Chomsky objected to a finite state grammar stating that it is impossible to construct one that will
generate all and only the grammatical utterances of a natural language
o Critical feature of a finite state grammar is that every word in a sentence is produced in a
sequence starting with the first word and ending with the last word
o Too simple to underlie complexity of natural languages
o They operate at only one level
o Generate sentences by a process that moves only from left to right
Alternative proposed by Chomsky was a top-down process which makes use of
o Phrase structure rules
Rules describing the way in which symbols can be rewritten as other symbols.
Consists of symbols and rewrite rules.
Sample of rules:
Sentence (s) Noun Phrase (NP) + Verb Phrase (VP)
NP Article (art) + Noun (N)
VP Verb (V) +NP
11 Art a, the
N car, girl, boy
V helps, like
“ A car helps the boy”
These rules allow a number of different sentences to be derived
Each stage of this process yields a string and the final sequence of words
generated in called a terminal string
o Grammatical transformations
Rules operating on entire strings of symbols, converting them to new strings
An example is passive transformation:
“Boswell admired Johnson” “Johnson was admired by Boswell”.
This is an example of an optional transformation: it is not necessary in
order to make a sentence grammatical
Chomsky also defined kernel sentences: ones that are produced without optional
Competence and Performance:
Competence: person has internalized a system of rules that relates sound to meaning providing
the basis on which the person is able to understand and use the language
Performance: actual use of the language
o Competence is not always reflected in the use of language
o Besides competence, it is also determined by cognitive factors such as memory and
persons understanding of his/her situation
Although the grammar of a language is a model of linguistic competence, observations of
linguistic performance will not always give us a completely accurate picture of a person‟s
o Generating extremely long sentences may not be easily understood because they exceed
attentional capacity of listeners
o Form utterances take depending on age
Central problem for psychology is to discover the characteristics of linguistic competence
Deep and Surface Structures:
Chomsky believes that linguistic competence has a largely innate internal structure called
One aspect of universal grammar is universal syntax which provides the rules enabling us to
transform meaning into words
The meaning is called deep structure whereas the words are called surface structure
Distinction between the 2 helps us to understand linguistic phenomena such as ambiguous
Same surface structure can be derived from different deep structures
When we understand a sentence we transform a surface structure into a deep structure and vice
versa for producing a sentence
12 The Innateness Hypothesis:
The Poverty of the Stimulus Argument:
Innateness Hypothesis: children innately possess a language acquisition device that comes
equipped with principles of universal grammar
o The speech children are exposed to is an inadequate database from which to abstract the
structure of language
o Poverty of the Stimulus Argument : hypothesis that the linguistic environment to
which a child is exposed in too deficient to enable the child to acquire language on that
Children acquire their first language too rapidly for them to start from scratch when they acquire
Therefore they must possess a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) containing principles of
o Very general principles that apply to any natural language
Some things the LAD „knows‟ are that languages contain noun phrases, verb phrases and that
they are arranged as subject and predicate
Support for Innateness Theory came from Brown and Hanlon‟s study
o Showed no evidence for the learning via informative feedback approach normally
associated with B.F. Skinner
o Most mothers allowed ungrammatical utterances and responded to them
Minimalism: the belief that linguistic competence has only those characteristics that are
o Current version of Chomsky‟s theory
Key hypothesis of current theory is that acquisition of a particular language involves parameter
o Parameter is a universal aspect of language that can take on one of a small set of possible
Ex: in English verb comes before noun whereas in German it is the other way
Parameter setting approach implies that children are not instructed to learn a specific language
Children are not given explicit training on the position of verbs in verb phrases rather a language
is selected out of the possible ones that are supported by universal grammar
Through exposure to a particular language switches get set to the specific values that characterize
Theorists assume that regardless of language the goal of a speaker is to be able to communicate
Concealing function: the hypothesis that language is a kind of code. The parameters that are set
for one language conceal its meanings from the speakers of another language
13 Is the Stimulus for Language Really Impoverished?:
Pullum and Scholz render the “ Scottish Verdict” on the poverty of the stimulus argument
o It is not proven
o However it is difficult if not impossible to disprove it as no one has given a complete
account of all the data available to a child that would make language acquisition possible
without any innate contribution
However evidence has accumulated to suggest that children acquiring language are given much
more evidence in support of their efforts than was previously suspected:
o Children both receive and make use of corrective feedback on ungrammatical
o The complexity of speech the child is exposed to is related to the complexity of speech
the child will produce
Adult Reformulations of Child Errors:
Children produce many errors during acquisition of speech. But how do they get rid of them?
Parental reformulations of child‟s erroneous utterances
o Constitute negative evidence because reformulation inform children when their
utterances are erroneous
o However also provide positive instances of correct speech
Study by Chouinard and Clark
o Sampled utterances of 5 kids between ages 2-4,parental responses to them and child‟s
o Data came from The Child Language Data Exchange System
o Reformulation of erroneous utterances occurred 50-70% of the time when child is 2 yrs
o Children take up these reformulations ~50% of the time
o Therefore these interactions help child learn to speak correctly
o Reformulations decline has child gets older
The Impact of Teachers’ Speech:
There are substantial variations in the language children encounter and these may be correlated
with differences in development
o Development of ability to organize words into grammatical sentences
o May be influenced by input from speakers other than caregivers
Language development is ongoing and does not stop at a specific age
After certain age much speech children are exposed to comes from teachers
Complexity of syntax of kids in kindergarten and first grade develops more between October-
April (school term) than over the summer
o Suggests exposure at school is important factor
o Recorded preschool teachers‟ speech during class
o Examined how much challenging speech teachers presented to kids (multi-clause
o Ranged from 11-32 %
14 o Kids were ~4 years and came from 3 different preschools with diff SES
o Kids were tested using comprehension task of matching a sentence to picture
o Kids were tested at beginning and end of year & average score was calculated for each
o Score2- score1 = measure of syntactic growth for each class
o This measure was significantly related to complexity of teachers‟ speech
Evaluation of Chomskian Theories:
Degree to which his theories are true or false has not yet been determined
Innate processes now are believed to play a lesser role in language acquisition
The linguistic environment of the child is much richer than had been believed
Language acquisition is increasingly acknowledged to be dependent on learning
Communication and Comprehension:
The context within which a listener or reader receives language is very important in determining
what interpretation they will get from the message
Speakers and listeners enter into a given, new contract whereby the speaker agrees to connect
new info to what the listener already knows
o Comprehension would be difficult if new info was introduced without connection to
knowledge listener already has
Two approaches to communication (Sperber & Wilson)
o Code model
Derives from info-processing theories
Initial stage is the process of speakers‟ thoughts being encoded in words
Listener must decode these signals to arrive at thought speaker wished to
Model assumes speaker and listener share a great deal of mutual knowledge
otherwise would not be able to decode
Successful interpretation of sentences depends on the listener sharing the same
understanding of the situation as speaker
Difficulty with model is its very difficult to spell out ways in which people could
come to have enough mutual knowledge to guarantee successful communication
o Inferential model
Derives from work of Grice analyzed communication in terms of intentions
Speaker intends to inform listener and listener infers what speaker intends
Meaning of utterance depends critically on inferences you make concerning the
meaning the speaker intends
Cooperative Principle: assumption that the speaker intends to say something
concise, truthful, relevant and unambiguous
Speakers tend to obey this to facilitate communication
4 rules/ conversational maxims that follow this principle:
Maxim of quantityspeaker says no more than necessary
15 Maxim of quality try to be truthful
Maxim of relation be relevant
Maxim of manner strive to avoid ambiguity
People communicate in ways that blends the two
Under any circumstance the goal of communication is relevance
Various figures of speech such as irony and metaphor
Commonly used in ordinary discourse
Irony belongs to a family of concepts that include satire and sarcasm
A satirical remark is ridiculing something and sarcasm and irony are ways to accomplish it
Irony is sometimes considered a form of sarcasm
Ironic statement is intended to communicate the opposite of what it says
Irony involves the use of pretense (Clark & Gerrig)
o Pretense theory when speaking ironically the speaker is only pretending to mean
what he/she says
Irony usually involves a particular tone of voice
Standard theory of irony listeners initially take an ironic statement literally but realize that the
speaker can not mean it literally then listener concludes they are being ironic they initially go
with cooperative principle (truthful, relevant etc)
Studies show that people do not need to extract literal meaning before realizing the figurative
o Pauses in speech often characterized by disfluencies such as um or uh
o Counted number of filled in pauses in speech of 47 lecturers in 10 departments at
o Humanities and social science lectures had more speech disfluencies than sciences
o Schachter attributed this difference to difference in vocab
o Science talking about well defined subject matter relative to arts
o Also few synonyms for scientific terms compared to concepts in humanities and social
o Therefore humanities have more words to choose from
o Hesitation pauses represent points where lecturers are choosing between various
„uh‟ signals short delay in speaking, „um‟ signals longer delay (Clark & Foxtree)
16 The Social Context of Language:
Vygotsky was interested in the interaction between thought and speech
Believed that in the second year children begin to think about what they say thought and
speech begin to influence each other
At this age children begin to show an increase in curiosity about word meanings and vocab grows
Egocentric speech (Piaget)
o Speech that does not take the listener‟s perspective into account
o This declines as child becomes socialized
o Social speech emerges in its place
Vygotsky argues that egocentric speech doesn‟t disappear but becomes
Inner speech speech to oneself that regulates thought
o It is silent and a rapid medium in which to think
o A condensed form of representation
o Typically makes use of predicates
o Similar to speech between people who know each other well
o Conveys the personal not conventional meaning of words
o One function of inner speech is the planning of cognitive operations
Vygotsky compares it to a mental draft-> can plan and organize thinking
Helps with planning tasks and switching between tasks
Inner speech is suppressed when asked to recite abc‟s then simple addition and
subtracting task is impaired
Suggests its part of working memory
The Zone of Proximal Development:
The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem
solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under
adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers
Draws attention to social aspects of cognitive development
Close relation to zone of proximal development and development of inner speech
Info, directions or strategies child gets from adult is incorporated into their private speech and
then uses it to guide independent efforts
The ability to read and write
o Ability to talk about language without worrying about what it refers to
o What Luria did when talking to illiterate in study (pg 278)
o When we use language to talk about language we are using metalanguage
E.g. employing the word „simile‟ for comparison using like or as
Literacy makes it possible to make a distinction between the oral or written text and
interpretations of that text
17 The Consequences of Print Exposure:
Literacy is not an all or none state of affairs (Stanovich & Cunningham)
o Even literate people differ in the degree to which they are exposed to printed materials
and degree to which they develop metalanguages
It‟s possible that variation may be correlated with cognitive skills like vocab and verbal fluency
Stanovich & Cunningham study
o Asses strength of relationship between print exposure and cognitive skills
o 300 undergrads from American universities
o Students given general intelligence test, cognitive skill tests and exposure to print tests
(ART-author recognition and MRT- magazine recognition)
o Scores of ART and MRT predicted scores on cognitive skills
o Suggests that print exposure makes an independent contribution to cognitive skills over
and above general intelligence
Language, Cognition and Culture:
How we judge a situation is determined by the words we use to describe it (Whorf)
o Ex. Of „empty‟ gasoline cans perceived as safe
o Hypothesis that 2 languages may be so different from each other as to make their native
speakers‟ experience of the world qualitatively different from each other
o Whorf‟s view leads to linguistic relativity
o The notion that 2 languages may be so different from each other as to make their native
speakers‟ experience of the world quite different from each other
o Users of different grammars are not equivalent as observers but must arrive at somewhat
different views of the world
Whorf gave example of difference between Standard Average European (SAE) languages and
Amerindian languages showing how their differences account for differences in perception of the
o E.g. Inuit have more words for snow indicating their perception of snow is more
differentiated than ours
Pullum attempted to debunk this idea of many words for snow
o Suggests that we have just as many words for snow (blizzard, sleet etc)
o Inuit‟s many words for snow lends to their expertise
o Existence of multiple meanings for one word
o English words are more polysemous than Italian
o Therefore differences between languages can affect performance (Hunt)
18 Color Words:
Having a color name available in the language did not seem to be a prerequisite for being able to
remember the color (With the Dani of New Guinea)
Dani remembered central colors more than periphery ones just like Americans
Suggests that colors were not perceived as arbitrary but that the structure of color perceptually
was similar for everyone
Basic Color Terms (Berlin & Kay)
o There are 11 of them
o There is an invariant sequence regulating the emergence of color terms in any language
o Although different languages may have different numbers of color words, there is a
particular order in which color terms emerge in the history of a given language
E.g. if language has 2 color words it will be for black and white
Invariance claimed to arise as a consequence of the nature of the visual system
Opponent process theory of color vision (Hering)
o Hypothesis that color vision is based on 3 pairs of antagonistic processes
o Yellow-blue, red-green, white-black (responsible for achromatic colors)
o In absence of stimulation all pairs give rise to grey -> state of balance
o Lights acts on each pair to yield one of its component colors and inhibit the other
o Thus we cannot experience a reddish-green
o Does not stand the test of time unfortunately
Replication study of Berlin and Kay did not produce same results
o Therefore didn‟t support hypothesis that the color space is universally similar and
independent of language (Davidoff et al)
Evidence is titlting towards linguistic relativity hypothesis
Language and Spatial Frames of Reference:
At least 3 spatial frames of reference can be found in different languages
o Intrinsic frame of reference
Spatial relations are based solely on the relations between the objects being
Ex. The man is at the chair‟s back
o Relative frame of reference
Spatial relations are described relative to an observer‟s viewpoint
Ex. The man is to the right of the chair
Most familiar to English speakers
o Absolute frame of reference
Spatial relations are described in terms of an invariant set of coordinates
Ex. The man is to the north of the chair
The particular language spoken provides speakers with a way of representing space that they must
use in order to be able to communicate with others in their linguistic community
A systematic means of communicating by use of sounds or conventional symbols
The neurocognitive processes involved in producing and understanding linguistic
A social act whereby we accomplish specific interpersonal goals
Major domains of linguistics
o The study of how individuals comprehend, produce and acquire
o Stresses mental representation of language and the neural processes
o Focuses on users rather than systems
o Recurring themes:
How do humans learn language?
What are the implications for representation and process?
Is it a learnt skill or an innate linguistic capacity?
Modular (specific to a function) or domain-general?
Language is innately endowed universal grammar that guides
language acquisition process Chomsky
Emerging alternative within linguistics involving super charged
version of language learning – poverty of stimulus argument is false
What is communicated with language?
o Orthographic (visual) features shallow orthography means 1:1
relationship between sound and letter
o Phonological features (sounds)
o Prosodic contour melody of speech
o Semantic retrieval
o Compositional analysis message model of language, building of
o Meaning lookup
o Referential assignment
20 o Nonliteral or figurative retrieval unclear at how you arrive at its meaning
based on its parts
o Integration with social-pragmatic context
Sound patterns of words; visual patterns of words;
Combining semantics and syntax to build sentence
meaning; produces “literal” meaning
Directly-retrieved conventional meaning (idioms - beg the
Created for specific context (metaphor - the speaker is a
Emotional tone, sarcasm, social status, speaker
characteristics,speaker communicative intent, interaction
o Cognitive exercise can lead to enhanced executive functions
o Delayed Alzheimer‟s disease onset by ~ 4 years
o What is considered bilingual?
Might not always be balanced across all skills
o Acquire second language in different contexts and at different ages
Faster at picking up original first language even if its forgotten
o Lexical representations
Can have in memory knowledge of a particular word form
Can have same lexical representation mapped to multiple
Bilinguals often have more than one lexical representation to
express the same meaning translation equivalents
Language specific words are less frequent for bilinguals
Words that overlap in different languages:
Cognates= same orthographic form, same meaning
Interlingual homographs= same form, different meanings
Cognates show facilitation, homographs show interference
Separate or integrated lexicons?
Selective access: only one language system activated at
any given time
Non-selective access: information pertaining to both
languages is simultaneously activated during language
21 composition where you have interference with
homographs and facilitation with cognates
Use eye movements to study language
o Will cognate facilitate and homographic interference be affected by
high constraint context?
o Early cognitive
Homographs regardless of constraint, homographs slower for
bilinguals than control
Cognates regardless of constraint, cognates faster for bilinguals
o Total reading time
Homographs no interference with high constraint condition
Cognates not facilitation with high constraint condition
o Have a problem when we cannot immediately recall an answer from
o Problem solving involves going beyond the given information and
transforming it to get an answer to a question
o Relies on many cognitive processes:
problem solving cycle:
o 7 general steps
o Not rigid order dynamic
1) problem identification
Can sometimes be difficult
2) problem definition
Define and represent it well
Less likely to solve inaccurately defined problems
3) constructing a strategy
Analytic approach break problem into pieces
Synthesis approach putting the various elements together
Divergent thinking generate a number of different ways of
solving the problem
Convergent thinking narrow down to plausible ways
4) organization of information
22 Once you have a strategy, you need to organize your
5) resource allocation
Often time problem solving is constrained
Experts spend more time on global aspect of the problem
Novices spend more time on local aspects
How are we doing? Are the strategies we using successful?
Effective problem solvers do not set to one path and wait
until they get to a dead end
Types of problems:
o 1) well structured problems
Clear path to a solution. Not always an easy path, but a path
Means-end (minimize # of steps)
Same underlying problems in a different form
Wording is different
Difficult to detect
o A) number scramble
o B) tic tac toe
o C) magic square
o 2) ill-structured problems
No clear pathway to a solution
No well defined problem-space
Often, no plan to sequentially solve the problem
Instead the solutions to these problems rely on experience of insight
Sudden, instinctive understanding that the problem is re-
Explaining insight: Gestalt
Requires us to represent problem as a whole
Use productive thinking thinking that goes beyond
realizing associations between individual elements
23 o Contrast to reproductive thinking
Insight problems and the Gestalt theory of thinking:
Consciousness is not only one event after another; it tends to be organized into a coherent
Gestalt switch: A sudden change in the way information is organized.
Can occur to verbal material as well.
Insight problem: a problem that requires a restructuring of the way in which it is
represented before it can be solved.
Köhler and the mentality of apes:
Places chimps in a situation in which they were required to solved a problem
Result: animal suddenly saw how to solve the problem
Wertheimer and productive thinking:
Productive thinking: Thinking that occurs as a result of having a grasp of the general
principles that apply in the particular situation in which you find yourself.
Altar window problem.
o Superficial learning often interferes with the ability to see what is required to
solve the problem (and would be obvious to a more naïve person).
o Structurally blind thinking: The tendency to reproduce thinking appropriate for
other situations, but not for the current situation.
o Can sometimes lead us to get the right answer without understanding why.
Dunker and functional fixedness:
Interested in the effect that previous experience has on problem-solving.
Best way to solve a problem = rely on past experience, what did you do in similar
Analysis of the situation: Determining what functions the objects in the situation have
and how they can be used to solve the problem.
Functional fixedness: Being able to see that a particular object could perform the
function needed to solve a problem; the tendency for people to think about objects based
on the function for which the object was designed.
coins and a balance, how can you figure out which coin is counterfeit? you‟re allowed to
use the balance only 3 times.
o Finding solutions to problems may require us to overcome functional fixedness.
Maier and the concept of direction:
9 dots, connect all the dots with only 4 straight lines
24 Hint: A hint must be consistent with the direction that the person‟s thinking is taking, and
cannot be useful unless it responds to a difficulty that the person has already experienced.
o No evidence for the Gestalt theory of how problem-solving works because the
solution to the problem did not appear as a whole.
Maier: two-string problem.
o Gave participants a hint if they were not able to solve the problem
o Result: They could solve the problem, solution appeared suddenly as a whole
BUT they did not attribute the solution to the hint.
Insight is involuntary:
Insight problems: solution appears suddenly, without warning
Non-insight problems: solved gradually
Metcalfe and Wiebe: Participants should be able to distinguish between the 2 types of
Participants had to solve non-insight problems and had to rate their “feeling of warmth”
because they are solved step by step.
Feeling of warmth: the feeling people might have as they approach the solution to a
Participants should not feel they are getting warmer when solving insight problems.
Result: Feeling of warmth ↗ as they got closer to the solution for non-insight problems.
Participants asked to rank in order a set of problems: able to solve it or not
Feeling of knowing: The feeling a person might have that he/she would be able to solve
a particular problem.
o Feeling of knowing/warmth reflect judgments that participants make about their
own knowledge (example of Metacognition)
o Maetacognitive assessments are quite accurate.
Aha moments in the brain?
o Participants solved Chinese riddles
o Some answers require insight („aha‟) type problem solutions while others
o EEG study: differences between temporal properties
Insight experiences result from a culmination of a series of brain
states and processes culminating at different time points
o Can computers experience insight?
Or, can we program a computer to solve insight-type problems
Ex: mutilated checkboard
o Get computer on a wrong path, so a solutions cannot
25 o The computers stops, and has to represent the
problem in a new way
Current approaches to insight problems:
Progress monitoring theory:
Progress monitoring theory: Participants monitor their progress on a problem and when
they reach an impasse then they are open to an insightful solution.
o A participant takes the most straightforward route to a solution, but invariably
leads to failure in insight problems.
o They consider alternate possibilities when they reach an impasse, open to
o If hint leads to reach impasse more quickly, then easier to get to the solution.
Representational change theory:
Representational change theory: Insight requires a change in the way the participant
represents the problem.
Two processes central to the achieving of representational change:
o 1. Constraint relaxation: the removal of assumptions that are blocking problem
o 2. Chunk decomposition: parts of the problem are seen as belonging together;
chunks are separated and thought about independently.
o Both promote insight by facilitating the construction of novel representations.
o Eye movements are an index of parts of the problems about which the participant
is thinking: successful solvers spend more time looking at parts of the problem
requiring constraint relaxation and/or chunk decomposition.
Insight and the brain:
Evidence for Anterior cingulate cortex involvement in the insight process.
When participants are given riddles, most cannot come up with the answer, but generate
responses they know to be incorrect. When given the right answer, they reported having
an “aha!” experience. Corresponding activity in the ACC was recorded.
Hippocampus also involved in the insight process: important role in the consolidation of
Insight and sleep:
Number reduction task to investigate relation between sleep and insight process, few
participants achieved an insightful so