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Chapter 10

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 10 Language - languages: flexible systems that use symbols to express many meanings - species communicate; yes. they have a language; no. - primates have shown that true verbal ability is a social behaviour Speech and Comprehension Perception of Speech - speech does not come to us as a series of individual words we must extract the words from a stream of speech Recognition of Speech Sounds - auditory system = enables us to recognize sounds o recognizes patterns underlying speech rather than just the sounds themselves - some regions of brain respond more when heard from human vocalizations versus natural sounds - analyzing detailed information of speech? left hemisphere plays a larger role than the right one - phonemes: the smallest units of sound that allow us to distinguish the meaning of a spoken word o ex/ pin consists of /p/ + /i/ + /n/ 3 phonemes in one word - voice-onset time: delay between the initial sound of a consonant and the onset of vibration of the vocal cords o ex/ pa versus ba with pa you build up little pressure between your lips the -ah sound doesnt occur immediately due to the air pressure in your mouth keeps air from leaving the lungs for a brief time THEREFORE ah is delayed o ex/ ba has no buildup of air pressure in mouth THEREFORE vocal cords start vibrating as soon as lips open - vocal cords dont vibrate until air from the lungs passes through them o pa must come first then the ah follows o air from lungs then the vibration of vocal cords - Ganong; perception of a phoneme is affected by sounds that follow it - morphemes: smallest units of meaning in language o free morpheme: a morpheme that can stand on its own and still have meaning ex/ fastest = fast free morpheme o bound morpheme: cannot stand on their own, must be attached to other morphemes to have a meaning Recognition of Words in Continuous Speech: The Importance of Learning and Context - person hears onset of a word? N100 electrical signal appears - short syllabic sounds spliced together NO N100 signal - short syllabic sounds spliced together broken from the continuous stream and designated as nonsense words N100 signal appeared - context affects word perception o standing at beach bar someone says I Scream we hear it as ice cream Understanding the Meaning of Speech Syntax / Grammar - a) the two boys looked at the heavy box a) can be understood not b) - b) boys the two looking heavily the box at - all languages have grammar/syntax - syntactical rules: grammatical rule for combining words to form phrases, clauses, and sentences - understanding of syntax is automatic o child learns how to ride the bike they arent aware of the laws of physics that goes into riding bike, its just automatic that they learn - more complex syntax? fMRI shows that brain becomes more active - word order tells us what is happening o ex/ the boy hit the ball and the ball hit the boy word order tells us WHO does WHAT to WHOM - word class = grammatical categories o ex/ nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc. - function words: a, to, the, some, and, but, when words that make no sense alone - content words: nouns, verbs, adjectives words that have a definition/that express meaning o ex/ fast, run - affixes = prefix/suffix = added words before/after = alters grammatical function o ex/ drop + ed = dropped indicating past tense - semantics: word meanings - NO FUNCTION WORDS ONLY CONTENT: o man placed wooden ladder tree climbed picked apples still understandable - prosody: use of stress, rhythm, and changes in pitch that accompany speech o important in conveying emotion based on which word is stressed Relation Between Semantics and Syntax - deep structure: newly formed sentences are represented in the brain in terms of their meaning o without regard to grammatical features - surface structure the particular form the sentence takes - deep structure (meaning) is transformed into the surface structure (words + syntax)Knowledge of the World - scripts: specify events/interactions that people have witness/learned from others o events, rules etc. that are typical of a particular situation once witnesses that and learns it Brain Mechanisms of Verbal Behaviour Speech Production: Evidence from Brocas Aphasia - perceptions + memories + thoughts INTO speech - Brocas aphasia: language disorder characterized by SLOW, LABORIOUS, NON-FLUENT SPEECH o cause? lesions centered in the vicinity of Brocas area o damage must extend to surroundings of frontal lobe to cause Brocas aphasia, not JUST damage to cortex of Brocas area o barely use function words only content words o comprehend fine but cant produce speech smoothly/effortlessly - damage to the frontal lobe makes it difficult for people to express thoughts of speech- production o unable to even think of what to say - Wernicke; Brocas area contains motor memories o memories of what muscle movements to do to articulate words o ex/ talking = movement of jaw, tongue, lips requ
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