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Psych 1000 - Chapter 9 Notes.docx

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Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

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Chapter 9 Notes - Mental representation – includes images, idea, concepts, and principles - Psycholinguistics – the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire language o Divided into 3 broad areas  The function of language  Models of language processing  Physiological localization of functions in the brain - Examining methods and differences in the approach to the study of language relevant to psychology which requires two major view of human mental processes o Modularity o Connectionism - Language - a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite umber of possible messages and meanings o Although every organism can relay information within species, only humans use language o Much of our thinking reasoning and problem solving involve the use of language o Function words (a, but, it, that) are used to string together other words that have meaning - Adaptive functions of language o Human thought and behavior depend on more than the physical structure of the brain o Some believe that the use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social units where new problems arose o Language can be a learning mechanism - Properties of Language o Language is symbolic and structured  Uses sounds, written characters, or some other system of symbols to represent objects, ideas, events, feelings, and actions  The symbols are arbitrary  Grammar – the set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication  Syntax – the rules that govern the order of words o Language conveys meaning  It should be able to form and then transfer mental representations to the mind of another person  Semantics – the meaning of words and sentences o Language is generative and permits displacement  Generativity - the symbols of language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning  Displacement – the fact that language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present - Language has o Surface structure – consists of the symbols that are used and their order (the way symbols are combined within a given language) o Deep structure – the underlying meaning of the combined symbols - Human language has a hierarchical structure o Its most elementary building block is the phoneme, the smallest unit of speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning o The next level is morphemes, a combination of phonemes, which are the smallest units of meaning in a language o Morphemes make up words which make up phrases which up sentences. o Discourse is the highest level at which sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations, etc. - Bottom-up Processing – individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception o Analyzing the hierarchical structure of a spoken language as a set of building blocks that involve the use of phonemes and morphemes and words reflect this approach - Top-Down Processing – Sensory information is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, ideas, and expectations o The words you write, read, speak or hear activated and draw on your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and other linguistic rules that are stored in your long term memory - Speech segmentation – perceiving where each word within a spoken sentence begins and ends - Pragmatics – a knowledge of the practical aspects of using language - Aphasia – when people with damage in one or both of Wernicke’s and/or Broca’s areas suffer from impairment in speech comprehension and or production o Men who have left-hemisphere strokes are more likely to show aphasic symptoms than women with the same stroke - Evidence for Biological Foundations o Human children begin to master language without formal instruction o All adult languages (even sign language) have a common deep structure o Infants vocalize the entire range of phonemes regardless of culture o Noam Chomsky suggested that humans are born with a language acquisition device (LAD) which is a biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules common to all languages o There may be a sensitive period in which language is most easily learned  Telegraphic speech – when children utter sentences consisting of only a noun and a verb  Some linguists also believe that between infancy and puberty the brain is most responsive to language input from the environment - Language acquisition support system (LASS) – factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language o When LAD and LASS interact in a mutually supportive fashion, normal language development occurs - Bilingualism o Sensitive period is best for second language acquisition o Positive correlates of bilingualism  Superior cognitive processing ability  Greater flexibility in thinking  Higher scores on intelligence tests - The linguistic relativity hypothesis o Language determines what we are capable of thinking o Today linguists believe that language shapes the way we think but does not determine it - Language Features o Language and Human Evolution o Comparative Evaluation of Human and Non-Human Communication - Language and Human Evolution o Human technological progress approximates 40,000 years o Short span relative to existence of hominoids likely due to language development o Notion that language development is also recent based upon comparative examination of vocal tract structure  Vocal apparatus is post Neanderthal homo sapiens is particularly suited for speech  Short rounded tongue  Larynx located lower in tract than any other hominoid o Two approaches to language evolution need to be examined  Continuity – development was gradual from systems of gestures and calls used by ancestors (primarily supported by primatologists)  Discontinuity – language abilities are qualitatively different from earlier forms of communication (mostly supported by linguists)  Important to think of two approaches as part of a continuum rather than as completely different categories - Comparing Human and Non-Human Language Skills o We must focus upon the Universal Characteristics of Language  Semanticity – must convey meaning  Arbitrariness – no natural correspondence between the symbol/signal and the object  Discreteness – signal do not vary continuously  Duality of patterning – main signal (morpheme) is constructed from smaller units (phonemes) which are themselves devoid of meaning  Productivity – ability to recombine signals to produce unique utterances  Displacement – can communicate about things which are not physically present o Monkeys and Bees  Vervet monkeys possess an effective vocal communication system  Bees accurately signal nectar locations through an elaborate set of movements  Semanticity – Both monkeys calls and bees dances possess this characteristic  Arbitrariness – bees dance lack arbitrariness as the angle of dance is directly related to angle of food source relative to the hive and the suns position. Vervet calls are arbitrary yet they do not show group differences in calls like human languages shows differences across language groups  Discreteness – bees circular movement for near and figure 8 for far show this characteristics. Monkey calls are discrete  Duality of Patterning – Bees dance fails this, as it can’t be broken down into component parts. Monkey calls also fail as there is no evidence that the calls can be broken down into constituent parts which allow for new utterances  Productivity – the above rules out productivity for monkeys. Bees, however, show limited productivity as they can signal locations never before signaled  Displacement – Bees definitely have this characteristic although it is limited to location information. Monkeys calls do not as they are only uttered in the presence of predators o In summary although animal and human communication systems show some overlap in the characteristics of language, animal systems are evolved for specific functions. The degree of overall does not unequivocally support a continuity view - Non- Human Language Learning o If language is not a special module of human intelligence but rather a learned process than animals with mental properties very similar to humans should be able to learn language  This would be strong support for a continuity view of language o Gardiner and Gardiner (1969,1975) conducted the most well known examination of a chimp named Washoe, of a primates attempt to communicate with ASL. Patterson (1978) reported similar success’ with a gorilla named Kobo  Washoe master several hundred signs  Demonstrated syntax by employing regularity of ordering in the use of the signs  And some instances of productivity – eg. Upon first experience of a swan, Washoe signed water-bird o Using artificial languages  Premak (1971) – attempted to teach a chimp named Sarah to match plastic tokens to objects and to assemble tokens into strings to produce sentences  Sarah was able to string tokens together to obtain rewards, however she did not understand categories of tokens or specificity of ordering and thus was unable to demonstrate she had any knowledge of syntax o Savage-Rumbaugh et al., (1986-1993) – employing a pygmy chimp (bonobo) named Kanzi who learned many symbols and was able to use word order to convey differences in meaning  Eg. Kanzi tickle Sue meant Kanzi does the tickling while Sue tickle Kanzi meant Kanzi wished to be tickled o In balance three of the studies seem to favour animal learning of language o However there may be other possible interpretations or explanations of the animals’ behavior  Often what appeared to be long strings of symbols involved significant repetition or could be explained as imitation of researcher behavior in order to obtain a reward (Terrace 1979, 1983)  When fluent human users of ASL were asked to observe and report on Washoe’s use of ASL they reported that the chimps use of signs was contaminated by pointing and other natural gestures which if not counted would significantly reduce the several hundred estimate of Washoe’s vocabulary. They also
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