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PSYC 101 CHPT. 10

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PSYC 101
Barbara Cox

PSYC 101 , 007 CHPT. 10 LANGUAGE I. Speech & Comprehension Language- our spoken, written, or gestured works and the way we combine them to communicate meaning Basic Language Requirements  Language is interpersonal  It is designed for exchange of meanings and information in a social group  Language is meaningful  Elements express meaningful concepts such as ―rabbit‖, ―red‖ or ―run‖  Language is structured  Specific combinations and sequences alter the meaning Psycholinguistics- a branch of psychology devoted to the study of verbal behaviour  Study of the mental mechanisms that make it possible for people to use language Braches of Psycholinguistics: 1. Study of Sounds Phonetics  What sounds do languages use?  What sounds “make a difference”? Phonology  How do sounds fit together in particular languages? Recognition of Speech Sounds  Phoneme- minimum unity of sound that coveys meaning in a particular language, such as /p/  Are recognized even though their pronunciation is affected by neighboring sounds in a spoken word, by accents, & by stress  Ex. “pin” consists of 3 phonemes /p/+/i/+/n/  Voice-onset time- delay between the initial sound of a consonant & the onset of vibration of the vocal chords  We distinguish between voiced & unvoiced consonant phonemes using voice-onset time  Morpheme- smallest unit of meaning in language  Phonemes combine to form morphemes  Some morphemes are phonemes (e.g., “I” and “a”)  Some morphemes are word “parts” (e.g. “est” or “er” as in “fastest” or “faster”)  Some morphemes are words (e.g., “bat”)  Bound morphemes (e.g. “th” & “est”) cannot stand on their own & must attached to other morphemes to provide meaning Recognition of Words & Continuous Speech: The Importance of Learning & Context  Larger units of speech are established by learning & experience  We are able to recognize sounds because of the context  We also use types of cues in the environment to help us understand what someone is saying  Ex. while standing at a snack shop at the beach & someone says “I scream”, we are likely to hear it as “ice cream” Syntax  We must follow the rules of language for the listener to understand our speech  All languages have a syntax or grammar, which follow certain principles  Syntactical rules- grammatical rules of a particular language for combine words to form phrases, clauses & sentences  Our understanding of syntax is automatic but our brains behave differently when we encounter more difficult syntax  fMRI studies show that our brain become more active when syntax becomes more complex or ambiguous  syntactical rules are learned implicitly  people can learn to apply the rules without actually being able to say what the rules are  important features that we use to understand syntax are: word order, word class, function & content words, word meanings & prosody  function word- a preposition, article or other word that conveys little meaning of a sentence but is important in specifying its grammatical structure (e.g. a, the, to, some, and, but, when)  content word- a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb that conveys meaning  affix- sound or group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word (prefix) or to its end (suffix)  alter the grammatical function of words  we are quick to recognize the syntactical function of words with affixes (hear –ed at the end, know its past tense)  semantics- meanings & study of meanings represented by words  provide important cues to the syntax of a sentence, word meanings help understanding of what is said  prosody- use of changes in intonation & emphasis to convey meaning in speech besides that is specified by the particular words  an important means of communication of emotion Relation Between Semantics & Syntax  Noam Chomsky suggested that newly formed sentences are represented in the brain in terms of their meaning, which he called their deep structure  Deep structure- essential meaning of a sentence, without regard to the grammatical features of the sentence that are needed to express it in words deep structure into the appropriate surface structure  The brain must transform t  Surface structure- grammatical features of a sentence  Most psychologists disagree but consider the distincti0on between deep & surface structure to be an important insight Knowledge of the World  Speech comprehension requires more than an understanding of syntax & semantics  Speech comprehension also involves knowledge about the world & about particular situations that we encounter  We must share common knowledge of the world with a speaker if we are to understand what the speaker is referring to  Schank & Ableson suggested that knowledge is organized into scripts  Script- characteristics (events, rules, etc) that are typical of a particular situation  Assists the comprehension of verbal discourse  Once the speaker has established which script is being referred to, the listener can fill in the details Brain Mechanisms of Verbal Behaviour  Mechanisms involved in perceiving, comprehending, & producing speech are located in different areas of the cerebral cortex  Effects of brain damage suggest that memories of the muscular movements needed to produce sounds of words are located near Broca’s area & memories of the sounds of words are located in Wernicke’s area  Broca’s area (region of the frontal cortex on the left side of the brain) is necessary for speech production  Wernicke’s area is necessary for speech perception  Broca’s aphasia- severe difficulty in articulating words, especially function words, caused by damage that includes Broca’s area  Characterized by non-fluent but meaningful speech that is scarce in function words but rich in content words  Aggramatism- a language disturbance often produced by damage to Broca’s area  Difficult in production & comprehension of grammatical features, such as proper use of unction words, word endings, & word order  Wernicke’s aphasia- disorder caused by damage to left temporal & parietal cortex, including Wernicke’s area  Characterized by deficits in perception of speech & by the production of fluent but rather meaningless speech  Scarce in content words but rich in function words  Pure word deafness- ability to hear, to speak, & usually to write, without being able to comprehend the meaning of speech produced by damage restricted to Wernicke’s area  Isolation aphasia- language disturbance that includes an inability to comprehend speech or to produce meaningful speech, accompanied the ability to repeat speech & learn new sequences of words  Caused by brain damage to left temporal/parietal cortex that spares Wernicke’s area What Is Meaning?  Meaning of a word (its semantics) is defined by particular memories associated with it  These memories are nor stored in the primary speech areas but in other parts of the brain, especially in regions of the association cortex  Different categories of memories may be stored in particular regions of the brain  Somehow are tired together as hearing one word activates all the memories associated with the word II. Reading Scanning of Text  Our eyes make rapid jumps, called saccades, as we scan a scene or while we read  We do not perceive things while the eyes are moving but during brief fixations that occur between saccades  Fixation- a brief interval between saccadic eye movements during which the eye does not move  Visual info is gathered during this time  Lasts about 250 milliseconds but duration can vary by a lot  Good readers have on average considerably shorter fixations than poor readers  All good readers’ saccades are in forward direction  Poor readers look back & examine previously read words several times  University students fixate on 80% of the content words but only 40% of the function words  Readers are more likely to skip over short function words (i.e. and or the) than over short content words  As we read a sentence, we analyze it word by word  The less frequently a word occurs in normal usage (the more unusual the word), the greater the fixation time  Fixation time is also influenced by the predictability of words in text (longer for unpredictable words)  Readers spend more time fixating on longer words  if word familiarity is held constant, the amount of time a word receives is proportional to its length  amount of time Chinese readers spend fixating on a traditional Chinese character is proportional to the number of brush strokes used to write it Phonetic & Whole-Word Recognition: Evidence from Neuropsychology  2 basic ways to recognize words: phonetic & whole-word recognition  Phonetic reading- reading by decoding the phonetic significance of letter strings; “sound reading”  Use knowledge of the relation between letters & sounds in the language  See an unfamiliar word or a pronounceable nonsense word, we recognize each letter & then sound it out  Whole-word reading- reading by recognizing a word as a whole; “sight reading”  The method used when words are familiar  Must faster method  Necessary in a language in which spelling is not completely phonetic  Without ability to recognize words as wholes, no ability to read irregularly spelled words  In an experienced reader, both phonetic & whole-word reading occur at the same time  Best evidence that proves people can read words without
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