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PSYA02H3 (962)
Chapter 10

Chapter 10

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 10 – Language - Psycholinguistics: branch of psychology devoted to the study o verbal behavior Speech and Comprehension - Perception of Speech - Left hemisphere of brain plays larger role when analyzing detailed information of speech - Analysis of speech usually begins with its elements/ phonemes o Phonemes: elements of speech – smallest units of sound that allow us to distinguish the meaning of a spoken word; minimum unit of sound that conveys meaning in a particular language  e.g. pin has 3 phonemes : p/i/n - Detectable distinction in phonemes o Voice-onset Time: delay between initial sound of a consonant (puffing the sound of the phoneme /p/) and the onset f vibration of the vocal cords o Voicing is the vibration of vocal cords - Phonemic distinction starts with auditory processes of sensory differences (in both hemispheres) - Ganong – found that perception of phonemes is affected by the sounds that follow it. - Morpheme: combined phonemes; smallest unit of meaning in language o Free morpheme – part of word can have its own meaning o Bound morpheme – can’t stand on its own, must be attached to other morphemes to have a meaning - Larger units of speech are established by learning and experience - Context affects perception of words through top-down processing as well as word perception - Understanding the Meaning of Speech - Syntax (grammar) - Syntactical rules: grammatical rule of a particular language for combining words to form phrases, clauses, and sentences o To put together’ o Understanding of syntax is automatic o Syntactical rules are learned implicitly (can’t be described) o Learning syntax and word meaning seems to involve certain memories - Word order – the A Xs the B (A = agent, B = object, X = thing being done) o Who does what to whom - Word class – grammatical categories (nouns, verbs, pronoun, adjective) - Words are either function words or content words - Function Words: includes determiners, quantifiers,, prepositions, and words in similar categories (a, the, to some, and, but, when, and so on) o Important in specifying grammatical structure - Content Words: include nouns, verbs, and most adjectives and adverbs: apple, rug, went, caught, heavy, mysterious, thoroughly, sadly - Content words express meaning; function words express relationship between content words (important in syntactical cues) - Affixes: sounds that we add to the beginning (prefixes) or end (suffixes) of words to alter their grammatical function - Word meanings (semantics): provide important cues to the syntax of a sentence o Meanings, and study of meanings represented by words - Prosody: use of stress, rhythm, and changes in pitch that accompany speech o Can emphasize the syntax of a word or group of words or even serve as the primary source of syntactic information - Deep Structure: newly formed sentences are represented in the brain in terms of their meaning o Represents the kernel of what the person intended to say - Brain must transform the deep structure into the appropriate surface structure - Surface Structure: particular form the sentence takes o Grammatical features of a sentence - ‘slip of tongue’ – someone says something unintended - Scripts: organizes knowledge; specify various kinds of events and interactions that people have witnessed or have learned about from others - Brain Mechanisms of Verbal Behavior - Neural mechanisms controlling speech production are located in the frontal lobes - Left frontal lobe – Broca’s area - Broca’s Aphasia: language disorder characterized by slow, laborious, non-fluent speech - Damage to lower left frontal lobe disrupts ability to articulate words - Damage to Broca’s area often produces agrammatism - Agrammatism: loss of the ability to produce or comprehend speech that employs complex syntactical rules o Includes lack of grammar - Recognition of spoken words is the first step in comprehension - Wernicke’s Area: region of the auditory association cortex located in the upper part of the left temporal lobe; involved in the recognition of spoken words - Wernicke’s Aphasia: damage to left temporal and parietal cortex, including Wernicke’s area; deficits in the perception of speech and by the production of fluent but rater meaningless speech Reading - Scanning of Text - Fixation: brief interval between saccadic eye movements during which the eye does not move; visual information is gathered during this time o Lasts on average for about 250 milliseconds – can vary - Fixation is influenced by predictability of words in the text - Readers spend more time fixating on content words and longer words - Phonetic and Whole-Word Recognition: Evidence from Neuropsychology - Belief that readers have 2 basic ways to recognize words: phonetic and whole-word recognition - Phonetic reading: reading by decoding the phonetic significance of letter string; ‘sound reading’ o Decoding of sounds that letters or groups of letters make - Whole-word reading: reading by recognizing the word as a wh
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