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Chapter 9

Chapter 9 – Psych 1100.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2410
Dan Meegan

Chapter 9 – Psych 1100 Mental Representations: cognitive representations of the world, including images, ideas, concepts, and principles, that are foundations of thinking and problem solving Language has been called “the jewel in the crown of cognition” and “the human essence” Language: a system of symbols and rules for combining them that can produce an almost infinite number of possible messages and meanings Psycholinguistics: the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire language  Language is a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate infinite number of messages and meanings  This definition encompasses four properties that are essential to any language: symbols, structure, meaning and generativity  Fifth property: displacement Language is Symbolic and Structured  Language uses sounds written characters, or some other system of symbols to represent objects, events, ideas, feelings, and actions Grammar: the set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication Syntax: the rules for the combination of symbols within a given language  Grammars of all language share common functions Language Conveys Meaning  Based in part on the words you use and how they are organized, both you and your friend will extract meaning Semantics: rules for connecting symbols to what they represent Language is Generative and Permits Displacement Generativity: a characteristic of symbols of language that can be combines to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning Displacement: the capacity of language to represent objects and conditions that are not physically present  Can discuss the past ad the future, as well as people, objects, and events that currently exist or are taking place elsewhereThe Structure of Language  Psycholinguists describe language as having a surface structure and a deep structure Surface Structure: a linguistic term for the words and organization of a spoken or written sentences; two sentences with different surface structure may still mean the same thing Deep Structure: a linguistic term that refers to the underlying meaning of a spoken or written sentence; the meanings that make up deep structure are stored as concepts and rules in long-term memory  Semantics can have different surface structures, but the same deep structure  Sometimes, a single surface structure can give rise to two deep structures  Moving form the surface structure to deep structure Phoneme: the smallest unit of sound in language; these are the vowel and consonant sounds that are recognized in any given language; English has 45 phonemes  English uses about 40 phonemes, consisting of the various vowel and consonant sounds, as well as certain letter combinations such as th and sh  Phonemes have no inherent meaning, but they alter meaning when combined with other elements Morphemes: the smallest unit of meaning in a given language, English morphemes include whole words, prefixes, and suffixes; there are over 100, 000 English morphemes Discourse: the sixth level of the hierarchical structure of language in which sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations, and so forth  To understand language, your brain must recognize and interpret patterns of stimuli – the sounds of speech, shapes of letters, movements that create hand signs, or tactile patterns of dots used in Braille – that are detected by your sensory systems  Linguistic stimuli involves the joint influence of bottom-up and top-down processing Bottom-Up Processing: perceptual processing that begins with the analysis of individual elements of the stimulus and works up to the brain’s integration of them into a unified perception As you read, specialized cell groups in your brain are: 1. Analyzing the basic elements of the visual patterns that are right before your eyes 2. Feeding this information to other cell groups that lead you to perceive these patterns as letters Top-Down Processing: perceptual processing in which existing knowledge, concepts, and ideas, or expectations are applied to make sense of incoming stimulation  Language by its very nature involves top-down processing, because the words you write, read, speak, or hear activate 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  Psycholinguistics have discovered that we use several cues to tell when one spoken word ends and another begins Pragmatics: in language learning, a knowledge of the practical aspects of using language  Not only helps you understand what other people are really saying, but also helps you make sure that other people get the point of what you’re communicating  Another example of how top-down processing influences language use  Depend on other aspects of the social context Language Functions  Broca’s area, located in the left hemisphere’s frontal lobe, is most centrally involved in word production and articulation  Wernicke’s area, in the rear portion of the temporal lobe, is more centrally involved in speech comprehension Aphasia: the loss of ability to understand speech (receptive aphasia_ or produce it (productive aphasia) Acquiring a First Language  Many language experts believe that humans are born linguists, inheriting a biological readiness to recognize and eventually produce the sounds and structure of whatever language they are exposed to Several facts suggest a biological basis for language acquisition:  Human children, despite their limited thinking skills, begin to master language early in life without any formal instruction Language Acquisition Device (LAD): according to Noam Chomsky, an innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules common to all languages  Child-directed speech, a high-pitched intonation that seems to be used all over the world  The behaviourist, B.F. skinner, developed an operant conditioning explanation for language acquisition  His basic premise was that children’s language development is strongly governed by adults’ positive reinforcement of appropriate language and nonreinforement or correction of inappropriate verbalizations  Most modern psycholinguists doubt that operant learning principles alone can account for language development Language Acquisition Support system (LASS): according to Jerome Burner, the factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language  By 2 years of age, children are uttering sentences called telegraphic speech that at first consist of a noun and a verb  With nonessential words left out as in a telegraph message  Some linguists are convinced there is also a sensitive period from infancy to puberty during which the brain is most responsive to language input from the environment  Language-deprived children who were found when they were past puberty seemed unable to acquire normal language skills despite extensive training Bilingual: Learning a Second Language  A second language is learned best and spoken most fluently when it is learned during the sensitive period of childhood  Children begin to differentiate their two languages by 2 years of age, perhaps younger, and such code mixing is not a lasting or important source of confusion  More recent research has found that bilingual children actually show superior cognitive processing when compared with heir monolingual peers  Also perform better require them to inhibit attention to an irrelevant feature of an object and pay attention to another feature  Greater flexibility in thinking and
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