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Chapter 10

Psychology Chapter 10.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 10 – Language - Humans were only species that considered to have LANGUAGES long ago - Languages = flexible systems that use symbols to express many meanings - Most species can communicate with one another – but this does not mean they have language o Ex: When female moths are ready to mate, they release a chemical that will bring male moths from miles away – they do not understand language - True verbal ability is a social behaviour o Conclusion emerged from studies of primates - Language plays crucial role in day-to-day communication  as a tool for remembering and thinking - Language enables us to think about very complex and abstract issues by encoding them as words - Speaking, listening, writing, reading are behaviours we can study - Psycholinguistics: A branch of psychology devoted to the study of verbal behaviour o Concerned with human cognition o Interested in how children acquire language – how verbal behaviour develops and how children learn to speak from interaction with adults o Study how adults use language & how verbal abilities interact with other cognitive abilities Speech and Comprehension - Through listening and reading we can share our experiences - We can from other people specific behaviours and helpful information Perception of Speech - We produce series of sounds in continuous stream o Punctuated by pauses, stress and changes in pitch - We maintain regular rhythmic pattern of stress - Speech does not come to us as series of individual words – we must extract the words from stream of speech Recognition of Speech Sounds - Auditory system performs complex task enabling us to recognize speech sounds - We can filter out non-speech sounds (cough or chuckles) - Human vocalization contain enough information – clearly distinguishable - Auditory system recognizes the PATTERNS underlying speech - Using fMRI Belin, Zatorre and Ahad found that some regions responded more when people heard human vocalizations (than hearing natural sounds) o Regions with large difference  TEMPEROL LOBE – Auditory cortex o Also found that left hemisphere plays larger role in analyzing detailed information of speech - Phoneme: The minimum unit of sound that conveys meaning in a particular language. o Elements of speech o Smallest units of sound that allow us to distinguish meaning of spoken word o Ex: word pin = /p/ +/i/+/n/. - Voice-onset time: The delay between the initial sound of a consonant (such as the puffing sound of the phoneme /p/) and the onset of vibration of the vocal cords o One distinction we can detect o Distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants  Ex: between /p/ and /b/  for ‘pa’ you build up little pressure in your mouth & when you open your mouth, puff of air comes out. The ‘ah’ sound doesn’t occur immediately. Vocal cords do not vibrate for ‘ba’, you do not build up pressure. Vocal cords start vibrating as soon lips open. Difference is very subtle - Discrimination begin with auditory processing of the sensory differences – this occurs in both hemisphere - Regions of the left auditory cortex seem to specialize in recognizing the special aspects of speech - Morphemes: The smallest unit of meaning in language o Phonemes are combined to form morphemes - Syntax of particular language determines how phonemes can be combined to form morphemes o Ex: word ‘fastest’ contains two morphemes   /fast/  a free morpheme because it can stand on its own & still have meaning  /ist/  a bound morpheme because it cannot stand on its own & must be attached to other morpheme to provide meaning Recognition of Words in Continuous Speech: The Important of Learning and Context - Larger units of speech are established by learning and experience - We also learn its content - We are able to recognize the sounds because of the context (even with hesitations, muffled sounds, sloppy pronunciations) - Context affects perception of words through TOP DOWN PROCESSING Understanding the Meaning of Speech - Meaning of a sentence is conveyed by words chosen, order which they are combined, affixes attached, pattern of rhythm and emphasis o Meaning also comes from knowledge about world shared by speaker & listener Syntax - For listener to understand speech, we must follow ‘rules’ of language o Use words which listener is familiar and combine them in specific way - All languages have ‘syntax’ or GRAMMAR - Syntactical Rule: A grammatical rule of a particular language for combining words to form phrases, clauses and sentences - Syntax provides important information o It is unconscious, we are not conscious of the process - fMRI shows as syntax becomes more complex, brains become more active - Syntactical rules are learned implicitly (some memories cannot be described verbally) o Later we can be taught to talk about rules & recognize application o Ability is not needed to speak and understand speech - Patients with anterograde amnesia able to learn artificial grammar o Patients were unable to learn meanings of new words o Learning syntax and word meanings involve different types of memory and different brain mechanisms - Syntactical rules of English very complicated o Syntactical cues are signaled by word order, word class, function, content words, affixes, word meanings and prosody o Word order is important in English - Word class refers to grammatical categories  noun, pronoun, verb, adjective - Function words: A preposition, article, or other word that conveys little of the meaning of a sentence but is important in specifying its grammatical structure o Include determiners, quantifiers, prepositions and worlds in similar categories  A, the, t, some, and, but, when etc o Express relations between content words - Content words: A noun, verb, adjective, or adverb that conveys meaning o Express meaning - People with particular brain damage lose ability to comprehend syntax - Affixes: A sound or group of letters that is added to the beginning of the word (prefix) or to its end (suffix) o Ex: ‘ed’ indicates past tense - Semantics: The meanings and the study of the meanings represented by words - Function words help determine the syntax of a sentence, content words help us determine its meaning - Prosody: The use of changes in intonation and emphasis to convey meaning in speech besides that specified by the particular words; an important means of communication of emotion o Use of stress, rhythm, and changes in pitch o Can emphasize the syntax of a word or group of words o Extremely important in language comprehension – much of our communication relies on spoken forms Relation between Semantics and Syntax - More than one way to say something, sometimes can mean more than one thing - Noam Chomsky  Suggested newly formed sentences are represented in the brain in terms of meaning (deep structure) - Deep Structure: The essential meaning of a sentence, without regard to the grammatical features (surface structure) of the sentence that are needed to express it in words o Represents what the person intended to say - In order to say the sentence, brain must transform deep structure into appropriate surface structure - Surface Structure: The grammatical features of a sentence o The particular form the sentence takes - Word order affects meaning - People with language disorder ‘conduction aphasia’ have difficulty repeating words and phrases but can understand them o They can retain deep structure, not surface structure Knowledge of the World - Comprehension of speech involves knowledge about world and situations that we may encounter - This knowledge is organized into  SCRIPTS - Scripts: The characteristics (events, rules etc) that are typical of a particular situation, assists the comprehension of verbal discourse o Specifies various kinds of events and interactions that people have witnessed or have learned about from others o Once speaker established which script is being referred, listener can fill in details Brain Mechanisms of Verbal Behaviour - Mechanisms involved in perceiving, comprehending and producing speech are located in different areas of cerebral cortex Speech Production: Evidence from Broca’s Aphasia - To produce meaningful speech, we must convert perceptions, memories and thoughts into speech - Neural mechanisms that control speech production appear located in frontal lobes - Damage to region of motor association cortex in left frontal lobe disrupts ability to speak  Broca’s area - Broca’s aphasia: Severe difficulty in articulating words, especially function words, caused by damage that includes Broca’s area, a region of the frontal cortex on the left side of the brain o Characterized by slow, laborious, non-fluent speech o Broca made this discovery while studying patient “Tan” - Lesions that produce Broca’s aphasia must be centered in the vicinity of Broca’s area o HOWEVER, damage restricted to cortex of Broca’s area does not appear to produce Broca’s area  damage must extend to surrounding regions of the frontal lobe and to the underlying sub-cortical white matter - Wernicke suggested that Broca’s area contains motor memories – memories of the sequences of muscle movements that are needed to articulate words - Talking involves rapid movements of tongue, lips, jaw o Movements must be coordinating with each other and vocal cords o Talking requires some sophisticated motor control mechanisms - Damage to Broca’s area often produces  AGRAMMANTISM - Agrammatism: A language disturbance; difficulty in the production and comprehension of grammatical features, such as proper use of function words, word endings and word order. (often seen in Broca’s aphasia) o Loss ability to produce or comprehend speech with complex syntactical rule o Rarely use ‘have’ (I have gone) or –ed - Broca’s aphasics seem to understand everything that is said to them o Often make gestures to supplement their speech - Damage to Broca’s area affect a hierarchy of language functions  leading to difficulty in sequencing the muscles of speech  produces articulation problems - MRI & CT scans show all patients had damage in area deep within frontal cortex  the INSULA o This region is close to the motor areas of the lips and face Speech Comprehension: Evidence from Wernicke’s Aphasia - Comprehension of speech obviously begins in auditory system – analyze seqeuences of sounds to recognize them as words - RECOGNITION first step to comprehension o Recognizing spoken word is complex perceptual task that relies on memories of sequences of sounds - This task is accomplished by neural circuits in upper left temporal lobe  WERNICKE’S AREA - Wernicke’s Area: A region of the auditory association cortex located in the upper part of the left temporal lobe; involved in the recognition of spoken words - Brain damage in the LEFT HEMISPHERE that invades WENICKE’S AREA (as well as surrounding region of temporal and parietal lobes)  Wernicke’s Aphasia - Wernicke’s Aphasia: A disorder caused by damage to the LEFT TEMPORAL AND PARIETAL cortex, including Wernicke’s area; characterized by deficits in the perception of speech and by the production of fluent but rather meaningless speech. o Symptoms are poor speech comprehension and meaningless speech - Unlike Broca’s aphasia, the speech is associated with Wernicke’s aphasia is fluent and unlaboured  o person does not strain to articulate words and does not appear to be searching for them o Patient maintains a melodic line, voice is rising and falling naturally o Person uses function words and complex verb tenses and subordinate clauses o Person uses few content words o Words that he/she strings together do not make sense! - When we try to asses their ability to COMPREHEND speech – we ask them to use non- verbal responses o Commonly used test  ask to point to objects in front of them o People with severe Wernicke’s aphasia show poor comprehension - This disorder has been characterized as a RECEPTIVE aphasia - Wernicke suggested this area is the location of memories of the sequences of sounds that constitute words o This suggests that the auditory association cortex recognizes sounds of words - Damage to Wernicke’s area produces a deficit in RECOGNITION (a perceptual task) o Damage to surrounding temporal and parietal cortex produces a deficit in production of meaningful speech and comprehension of speech - Brain damage that is RESTRICTED to Wernicke’s area produces a syndrome  PURE WORD DEAFNESS - Pure Word Deafness: The ability to hear, to speak, and (usually) to write, without being able to comprehend the meaning of speech o Caused by bilateral temporal lobe damage o A disorder of auditory word recognition o They are not deaf, they cannot understand speech o Can recognize non speech sounds (barking dog, doorbell) o They can recognize the emotion expressed by speech o Their own speech is excellent o They often understand speech by reading their lips o Can read and write – ask people to communicate via writing o Pure word deafness is not an inability to comprehend meaning of words - Damage to the region SURROUNDING Wernicke’s area (aka posterior language area) produces disorder  ISOLATION APHASIA - Isolation Aphasia: A language disturbance that includes an inability to comprehend speech or to produce meaningful speech, caused by bilateral temporal lobe damage o Inability to comprehend speech or to produce meaningful speech accompanied by the ability to repeat speech and learn new sequences of words - Difference between isolation aphasia and Wernicke’s aphasia  o Patients with isolation aphasia can repeat what other people say to them – they can recognize words o HOWEVER, they cannot comprehend the meaning of what they hear and repeat, nor can they produce meaningful speech on their own o Sounds of words are recognized by neural circuits in Wernicke’s area, and this information is transmitted to Broca’s area so they can be repeated o But because posterior language area is destroyed, meaning of the words cannot be comprehended Word Recognition and Production: PET and fMRI Studies - Patients with Broca’s aphasia show abnormally low activity in lower frontal lobe - Patients with Wernicke’s aphasia show low activity in the temporal/parietal area - Listening to list of nouns  activated the primary auditory cortex & Wernicke’s - Repeating the nouns  activated primary motor cortex and Broca’s area - Thinking of the verbs to use with nouns  intense activity in Broca’s area What is Meaning? - Wernicke’s area is involved in the analysis of speech sounds & recognition of words - Brain damage to the posterior language area that surrounds Wernicke’s area does not disrupt people’s ability to recognize words o Disrupts their ability to understand them or to produce meaningful speech - The meaning of a word (its semantics) is defined by particular memories associated with it o Ex: Knowing the meaning of tree means being able to imagine the physical characteristics of trees o It also means knowing facts about trees - These memories are NOT stored in the primary speech areas o Stored in other parts of the brain – especially regions of the association cortex - Different categories of memories may be stored in particular regions of the brain (they are somehow tied together) - In the brain there are two types of entries  auditory and visual - We hear a familiar word and understand its meaning  HOW? - First  we must recognize the sequence of sounds that constitute the words o We find the auditory entry for the word in our brain o This entry appears to be located in Wernicke’s area - Next  The memories that constitute the meaning of the word must be activated o Wernicke’s area is connected with neural circuits that contain these m
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