Ch10 detailed chapter notes i used these to study and did well on the exams

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28 Sep 2011

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Language is the most complex ability humans possess
Our use of language is a behaviour
Spoken words are highly organized patterns of motor activity
When they’re randomly uttered under influence of Tourette’s they mean nothing more than other simple
behaviours like tics
When organized into language they can communicate the complex steps of a surgical procedure
Communication requires organization
After sexual behaviour, communication is probably most important of all human social behaviours
Speaking and writing are social behaviours learned from other people and used to communicated with
We use language as a tool in our remembering and thinking
We encode information in memory verbally
Writing notes and consulting them later
Speaking, listening, reading and writing are behaviours
Linguists study rules of language and what we do when we speak or write
Psycholinguistics - branch of psychology devoted to study of verbal behaviour
Concerned with human cognition more than the rules that describe language
They are interested in how children learn to speak from their interactions with adults
How language is acquired, used, and how verbal abilities interact with other cognitive abilities
Speech and Comprehension
Perception of Speech
When we speak we produce series of sounds in continuous stream
Punctuated by pauses and modulated by stress and changes in pitch
Speech does not come to us as a series of individual words, like writing
Must extract words from stream of speech
Recognition of Speech Sounds
Auditory system allows us to recognize speech sounds
Human vocalizations contain enough information that we can recognize individuals from the sounds in
their speech
We can filter out non-speech sounds (cough, chuckle)
Sounds of speech vary according to sounds that precede and follow them
Accents, stress placed on syllables
Auditory system recognizes patterns underlying speech rather than just the sounds themselves
Some regions of the brain respond more when people hear human vocalizations (and non-vocalizations)
than when they hear only natural sounds
Large difference in temporal lobe, on the auditory cortex
When it comes to analyzing the detailed information of speech, the left hemisphere plays a larger role than
the right
Phonemes - elements of speech; smallest units of sound that contribute to the meaning of a spoken word
We discriminate among phonemes
Voice-onset time - delay between initial sound of a consonant (ex. Puffing sound of /p/) and the onset of
vibration of the vocal cords
Distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants
0.06 second delay in voicing that occurs when you say “pa” compared to “ba
Regions of left auditory cortex seem to specialize in recognizing special aspects of speech
PET scans used to identify these areas
Played recordings of either natural speech, speech that was computer-distorted and unintelligible but
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contained the phonemic complexity of the sounds, or speech that was intelligible but lacked the normal
frequencies of human speakers
Some areas responded to both natural and unintelligible speech while other responded only to speech that
was intelligible, even if it was highly distorted
Latter regions of auditory cortex must rely on information that transcends the distortions of individual
The perception of a phoneme is affected by the sounds that follow it
/g/ and /k/ when followed by “ift” sounds like “gift” but when followed by “iss” sounds like “kiss”
This means we recognize speech sounds in pieces larger than individual phonemes
Recognition of Words in Continuous Speech: The Importance of Learning and Context
Brain wave activity of people listening to short syllabic sounds spliced together
A special electrical signal called N100 wave appears shortly after people hear the onset of a word
We learn units of speech (words) and we learn their content
We recognize sounds because of context through top-down processing
We think of a conversation as involving only sounds
We use other types of cues present in the environment to help us understand what someone is saying
Understanding the Meaning of Speech
Meaning of a sentence conveyed by the words that are chosen, order they’re combined, affixes, pattern of
rhythm and emphasis of speaker, knowledge about the world shared by speaker and listener
Must follow “rules” of language so someone can understand us
All languages have a syntax or grammar
Syntactical rules - a grammatical rule of a particular language for combining words to form phrases,
clauses, and sentences
Syntax - Greek syntassein: “to put together”
It provides lots of information
Implicit memories - memories that can’t be described verbally
Explicit memories - memories that can be described verbally
Syntactical rules learned implicitly; we don’t know the roles of each word when we learn how to make
sentences as children
Syntactical rules of English are complicated and don’t tell us much about the psychology of verbal
Syntactical cues are signalled by word order, word class, function words, affixes, word meanings, and
Word order can imply a particular emphasis but the meaning of the sentence is conveyed by other
syntactical rules (“the A Xs the B” we known that A (agent) is doing something to B (object)
Word class - the grammatical categories (noun, pronoun, verb, adjective)
Don’t need to know the categories to use the words appropriately
Words can be classified in two ways:
1. Function words - determiners, quantifiers, prepositions, etc.
a, the, to, some, and, but, when…
Express the relations between content words and are very important syntactical cues
2. Content words - nouns, verbs, and most adjectives and adverbs
They express meaning
Affixes - sounds that we add to beginning (prefixes) or end (suffixes) of words to alter their grammatical
The meaning of a word, it’s semantics, provides important cues to the syntax of a sentence
Semantics - greek “sema” = sign
Syntax can be ambiguous - ex. Frank discovered a louse combing his beard
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