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Chapter 9

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 9  Cognition is composed of distinct abilities o Being really good at one thing does not mean you are intelligent  Acquiring and using language, forming concepts and categories, making decisions, solving problems and reasoning o These 5 cognitive abilities are critical in our functioning in every day life LANGUAGE  Most species have systems of communication that allow them to transmit messages to each other  LANGUAGE is a system for communicating with others using signals that are combined according to rules of grammar and convey meaning  GRAMMAR is a set of rules that specify how the units of language can be combined to produce meaningful messages  Human Language o Complex structure distinguishes from simple signals  Most humans can express a wider range of ideas and concepts than are found in the communication of other species  We can use our language in a lot of ways – its versatile o Humans words can use words to refer to intangible things o We use language to name, categorize, and describe things to ourselves when we think  Spoken language emerged between 1-3 million years ago and as a writing system as little as 6000 years ago  PHONEMES – the smallest units of sound that are recognizable as speech rather than as random noise (hooked on phonics shit)  PHONOLOGICAL RULES – indicate how phonemes can be combined to produce speech sounds: if you violate, shit sounds weird as fuck  MORPHEMES – the smallest meaningful units of language (words?)  MORPHOLOGICAL RULES – indicates how morphemes can be combined to form words o Content Morphemes – nouns and verbs o Function Morphemes – grammatical functions, such as tying words together or indicating time (half the words in the human language are these)  SYNTACTICAL RULES – indicate how words can be combined to form phrases and sentences o Ex. English – all sentences mush contain one or more nouns and one or more verbs  DEEP STRUCTURE – meaning of a sentence  SURFACE STRUCTURE – how a sentence is worded o When you create a sentence you start with the deep structure then find the surface to convey it o When you read a sentence, you process the surface to get the deep o When you read a sentence you have a tendency to forget the surface  Language Development o The avg 1 yr old has a vocab of 10 words, expands to over 10000 in the next 4 years  Kids learn 6-7 words a day o Children make few errors when learning to speak, only due to over generalizing the grammatical rules they have learned o A Childs’s passive mastery of language develops faster than their active mastery – understand better than they speak o At birth infants can distinguish among all of the contrasting sounds that occur in all human languages – lost ability within first 6 months and only recognize the language they are surrounded by o Infants can distinguish among speech sounds, but cannot produce them reliably  Babble speech sounds between 4-6 months: part of the language development process (even deaf babies do it)  Only continues if they can hear themselves  Deaf babies can babble with their hands if they use sign language in front of the kid o By 18m they can say about 50 words and can understand several times more than that  By the time the avg child enters school, they have a vocab on 1000thwords  By 5 grade, they know the meanings of 40k words o FAST MAPPING – children map a word onto an underlying concept after only a single exposure  Contrast with large effort to learn to write or do math o Form sentences around 2 years old  TELEGRAPHIC SPEECH – devoid of function morphemes and consist mostly of content words, still grammatically correct o Children speak in the past tense correctly around 2-3, but can be wrong around 4-5 (run vs runned vs ran)  They memorize the sound that express what they want to communicate, but they over generalize (assume everything that ends in –ed is past tense)  Comes from learning grammatical rules from those around them o There is a natural progression of learning to speak – one word, to telegraphic, to simple sentences  Based on child’s cognitive ability  May also be based on child’s emerging knowledge of the language o Language acquisition in preschool-aged adopted children showed the same orderly progression of milestones that characterizes infants  They learn new words much faster than infants however  Theories of Language Development o Behaviourist – we learn through reinforcement, shaping, extinction and the other basic principles of operant conditioning  Things that are correct are reinforced, incorrect things are not  Also imitate speech patterns they hear - they are “punished” for grammatical errors  Doesn’t account for the fact that parents will still listen to children if they are grammatically incorrect at an early age  Doesn’t account for the fact that children can generate grammatical sentences without hearing them, they are actually learning the rules and syntax (not everything had to be reinforced)  Doesn’t account for the fact that children over generalize – wouldn’t happen if it was only based on what they heard o Nativist – language learning abilities are built into the breain, which is specialized to rapidly acquire language through simple exposure to speech  NATIVIST THEORY – (Chomsky) language development is best explained as an innate biological capacity  LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE – a collection of processes that facilitate language learning • Language processes naturally emerges as the kids ages provided that they receive adequate input  Language capacity can be distinct from other mental capacities  GENETIC DYPHASIA – a syndrome characterized by an inability to learn the grammatical structure of a language despite having otherwise normal intelligence • Some people are just not wired to learn some grammatical rules  Explains why we can learn things we haven’t actually heard, and also why deaf babies can speech babble and why the pattern of lang dev is the same with kids around the world  Language can be acquired only during a restricted period of development (Genie) • It is hard to pick up language once puberty is reached  Nativists do not explain how language develops, only why (they basically say it happens, and don’t describe how) o Interactionist – Although infants are born with an innate ability to acquire knowledge , social interactions play a crucial role as well  Parents tailor their verbal interactions with children in ways that simplify the language acquisition progress (slower, more clearly)  Deaf kids in Nicaragua creating their own language and with syntax, grammar and errythaang • Kids who were learning it as it was growing, took what they had and developed it even more making it more mature and have more descriptors and such  Can other species learn our shit? o Apes cannot accommodate the sounds used in human languages o We have taught some ASL and gave them a computer keyboards that have geometric shapes that represent words o Washoe – chimp taught ASL who could construct simple sentences, formed novel description and even used words creatively at some times  Other chimps taught as well and they could sign to one another: learning environment conducive to language acquisition • Her kids picked up some ASL without being shown by ppl o When first learning a new language there are marked differences in the brain when a person engages in the second lang. compared to the first  Reduced after a few months of experiences o Chimps learned shit better when they were exposed at an early age o Apes can acquire sizable vocabularies, string words together to form short sentences, and process sentences that are grammatically complex  The subjects only learned a couple of hundred words, while an avg 4 yr old knows approx 10k words  Can only learn about concrete things they understand  Cannot use more than approximately 3-4 words in sentences that they make  LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY HYPOTHESIS – language shapes the nature of thought (Whorf) o Inuit have bare words for snow – shit is all different for them, all the same shit to everyone else o Language can change how we think about shit – kids have problems identifying colors, having words to associate with them makes it easier for them o English think of time in terms of forward and backward, Chinese (Mandarin) think of it in terms of up and down  Human language is characterized by a complex organization–from phonemes to morphemes to phrases and finally to sentences.  Each of these levels of human language is constructed and understood according to grammatical rules that are acquired early in development, even without being taught explicitly. Instead, children appear to be biologically predisposed to process language in ways that allow them to extract these grammatical rules from the language they hear  Our abilities to produce and comprehend language depend on distinct regions of the brain, with Broca’s area critical for language production and Wernicke’s area critical for comprehension.  Nonhuman primates can learn new vocabulary and construct simple sentences, but there are significant limitations on the size of their vocabularies and the grammatical complexity they can handle.  Recent studies on color processing and time judgments point to an influence of language on thought. However, it is also clear that language and thought are to some extent separate. HOW WE THINK  CONCEPT – a mental representation that groups or categorizes shared features of related objects, events, or other stimu
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