PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10-12: Heritability, Problem Solving

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19 Mar 2011
PSYA02 Textbook Review Notes - Chapters 10 to 12
Chapter 10: Language
Speech branch of psychology devoted to study verbal behaviour. Speech is social, it is
learned and used in interaction with others.
We Comprehension
Psycholinguistics extract words from a stream of speech.
Our auditory systems recognize patterns underlying speech.
Belin, Zatorre, and Ahad: used fMRI scans to find that some regions of the brain
responded more to human vocalizations rather than just other natural sounds. Left
hemisphere showed larger contrast and thus, it plays a larger role in analyzing
Phonemes: elements (smallest units) of speech. Eg: pin is three phonemes /p/+/i/
oVoice-onset time: a way in which we discriminate among phonemes. It is the
delay between the initial consonant sound and vibrating vocal chords
(voicing). Eg: there is a delay in voicing for pa compared to ba although
the initial sound (made with the mouth) is the same.
oPhonemic discriminations initially occur in both hemispheres. Some areas of
the brain in the left hemisphere respond solely to intelligible speech even if it
is highly distorted.
oOur ability to recognize highly distorted speech supports that our perception
of a phoneme is affected by the sounds that follow it (Ganong). We recognize
speech sounds in larger chunks such as syllables.
Morphemes: smallest units of meaning in a language
Sanders, Newport, and Neville: played a continuous string of nonsense syllables to
listeners. Chunks of this stream were given to participants to study as words.
When the string was played once again the N100 response (electrical signal that
occurs when a word is first recognized) showed up.
Context affects word perception through top-down processing.
Syntax/grammar: all languages follow certain principles called syntactical rules:
grammatical rules for combining words to form phrases, clauses, and sentences.
oSyntax is learned implicitly and is automatic. Involves different brain
mechanisms than learning word meanings.l
oSyntactical clues are designed by:
Word order: tell us who does what do whom (in English), for example
A Xs the B: A does something to B.
Word class: grammatical categories such as noun and verb.
Function words: adds little meaning but conveys important
information about the sentences structure such as prepositions
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PSYA02 Textbook Review Notes - Chapters 10 to 12
and articles. When they are omitted, we can often guess at
function words.
Content words: express meaning such as nouns and verbs.
Content words express meaning and function words express the
relationships between the content words.
Affixes: Sounds we add to beginning (prefix) or ends (suffix) of words.
Adding affixes to nonsense words make them seems more like
sentences (Epstein).
Semantics: the meaning represented by words.
Prosody: using changes in intonation and emphasis to convey
meaning in speech. Important for emotion. In writing, syntactical
clues and interfere with prosody producing brain activity similar to
that of unexpected experiences.
Syntax is necessary but not sufficient for semantics. Things can make syntactical
sense but we may not extract meaning from it. Likewise, semantics requires syntax
for the entire picture.
We remember what is meant in sentences but quickly forget their form. Chomsky
(linguist) suggested a model:
oDeep structure is the essential meanings of a sentence. It is converted to
speech by adding surface structure (grammatical features).
oThis model is not generally accepted by psychologists.
Aphasia: loss of language, recognition or comprehension or both.
oConduction aphasia: difficulty repeating words and phrases, but they are
comprehended. Retain deep structure but not surface structure.
Pragmatics is knowledge of the world. Used in conversations and is involved in
speech comprehension. Scripts: characteristics of typical situations that assist in
comprehending a verbal discourse. A conversation can bring up certain scripts in
the listener so the speaker can convey information without all the gritty details.
Areas important for speech:
oBrocas area: motor association cortex in left frontal lobe. Speech production
occurs here. Sign language users also show activity in this area, meaning it
is for more than just speech production.
Damage here (extending to underlying white matter) causes Brocas
aphasia which involves severe difficulty articulating words, especially
function words.
Agrammatism: inability to properly use or comprehend
function words and grammatical features.
Comprehension of word order, for example, is affected in
Brocas aphasia.
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PSYA02 Textbook Review Notes - Chapters 10 to 12
Deficit in comprehension parallels their deficit in production
(grammatical and syntactical loss)
Wernicke suggested that Brocas area contains memories of sequences
of muscle movements needed to articulate words. Brocas area is
located just in front of the primary motor cortex.
oWernickes area: upper part of the left temporal lobe, involved in the
recognition of speech.
Wernickes aphasia:
Damage to the left temporal and parietal cortex that includes
Wernickes area. Causes deficits in perception of speech and
producing fluent but meaningless speech and lack of content
Show poor comprehension, disorder known as receptive
aphasia, inability to convert thoughts into words, and inability
to recognize spoken words.
oRecognizing is not the same as comprehending: a word
for which there is no learned meaning associated can
still be recognized.
Pure word deafness: Damage restricted to Wernickes area. Inability
to comprehend the meaning of heard speech (can still read lips and
writing) but one can still hear, speak properly, and write. Can
recognize emotions conveyed through prosody but not what is being
Isolation aphasia: damage to the left temporal and parietal cortex
that spares Wernickes area (area that surrounds Wernickes area is
the posterior language area). Similar to Wernickes aphasia yet they
can recognize and repeat words.
Posterior language area is responsible for word meanings.
Sounds of words recognized in Wernickes area, passed onto Brocas area so they can
be repeated.
fMRI and PET Studies on word recognition and production:
oBrocas aphasia patients show low activity in the lower left frontal lobe.
Wernickes aphasia shows low activity in the temporal/parietal area of the
oListening passively to a list of nouns activates the primary auditory cortex
and Wernickes area. Repeating the nouns activates primary motor cortex
and Brocas area.
Semantics: the meaning of a word. Defined by the particular memories associated
with the word.
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