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Chapter 9

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Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

Psychology Chapter 9 Mental representations: include images, ideas, concepts, and principles; humans have a remarkable ability to create mental representations of the world and to manipulate them in the forms of language, thinking, reasoning, and problem solving Language Language: consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings Psycholinguistics: the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce and acquire language Adaptive Functions of Language  Over the course of evolution, humans adopted a more socially oriented lifestyle that helped them survive and reproduce; some believe that the use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social units; language development made it easier for humans to adapt to these environmental demands  Our conscious thinking usually takes the form of self-talk, or inner speech; through language, we are able to share our thoughts, feelings, goals, intentions, desires, needs, and memories with other people and thus interact socially Properties of Language 4 properties that are essential to any language: symbols, structure, meaning, and generativity:  Language is Symbolic and Structured: language sues sounds, written characters, or some other system of symbols; moreover, the symbols used in any given language are arbitrary: there is nothing about the symbol that makes it an intrinsically correct choice for representing that symbol o Grammar: rule-governed structure; a set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication o Syntax: rules that govern the order of words  Language Conveys Meaning: once people learn certain symbols and rules, they are able to form and then transfer mental representations to the mind of another person o Semantics: the meaning of words and sentences  Language is Generative and Permits Displacement: o Generativity: the symbols of language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning o Displacement: language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present; language frees us from being restricted to focusing on events and objects that are right before us in the present The Structure of Language Surface structure: when you read, listen to, or produce a sentence; this consists of the symbols that are used and heir order; the syntax of a language provides the rules for ordering words properly Deep structure: the underlying meaning of the combined symbols; sentences can have different surface structures but he same deep structure Phoneme: the smallest unit of speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning; they have no inherent meaning, but they alter meaning when combined with other elements Morphemes: the smallest units of meaning in a language; not always syllables- English`s 40 phonemes can be combined into more than 100,000 morphemes Discourse: sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations, etc Understanding and Producing Language Bottom-up processing: individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception Top-down processing: sensory information is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, ideas, and expectations; language by its very nature involves top-down processing, because the words you write, read, speak, or hear activate and draw on your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and other linguistic rules that are stored in your long-term memory Speech segmentation: perceiving where each word within a spoken sentence begins and ends; when psycholinguists measure the sound energy produced as people utter sentences, they find that the decreases in energy output between words often are smaller than the decreases between segments within the same words  In English, about 40 percent of words consist of two or more syllables that are vocally stressed when spoken; thus, the auditory breaks that we hear in speech often do not correspond well to the physical breaks produced by the spaces in written sentences  We use several cues to tell when one spoken word ends and another begins- for example, we learn that certain sequences of phonemes are unlikely to occur within the same words; we also use the context provided by the other words in a sentence to interpret the meaning of any individual word Pragmatics: a knowledge of the practical aspects of using language; language occurs in a social context, and pragmatic knowledge not only helps you understand what other people are saying, but it also helps you make sure that other people get the point of what you`re communicating- another example of top- down processing influencing language  Broca`s area, located in the left hemisphere`s frontal lobe, is involved in word production and articulation  Wernicke`s area, in the rear portion of the temporal love, is involved in speech comprehension  People with damage in one or both areas typically suffer aphasia, an impairment in speech comprehension and/or production that can be permanent or temporary Acquiring a First Language  Language experts believe that humans are born linguists, inheriting a biological readiness to recognize and eventually produce the sounds and structure of whatever language they are exposed to  Despite their differences at the phoneme level, all adult languages throughout the world- including sign languages for the deaf that developed independently in different parts of the world- seem to have common underlying structural characteristics; Language acquisition device (LAD): Noam Chomsky proposed humans are born with this; an innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules (which he terms universal grammar) common to all languages; however, universal grammar becomes calibrated to the grammar and syntax of one`s native tongue  Social learning plays a central role in acquiring a language; child-directed speech is a high- pitched intonation  B.F. Skinner developed an operant conditioning explanation for language acquisition: children`s language development is strongly governed by adults` positive reinforcement of appropriate language and non-reinforcement or correction of inappropriate verbalizations- however, most modern psycholinguists doubt that operant learning principles alone can account for language development o Parents` corrections focus primarily on the `truth value`(deep structure) of what the child is trying to communicate Language acquisition support system (LASS): Jerome Bruner proposed this term to represent factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language; both LAD and LASS interact in a mutually supportive fashion, which helps facilitate normal language development occurs  Telegraphic speech is what children utter by 2 years of age that at first consist of a noun and a verb with non-essential words left out as in a telegraph message  Some linguists believe that there is a sensitive period from infancy to puberty during which the brain is most responsive to language input from the environment; this early exposure applies to any language, not just spoken language; deaf children who learn sign language before puberty develop normal linguistic and cognitive abilities, even though they never hear a spoken word Bilingualism: Learning a Second Language  Wally Lambert, a psychologist at McGill proved that having to learn two vocabularies and sets of grammar does not put bilingual speakers at a disadvantage; he found that when matched on background variables, bilingual speakers scored at least as well as monolinguals on performance tests  More recent research has found that bilingual children actually show superior cognitive processing when compared with their monolingual peers; they better understand the symbolic nature of print, even before they can read  When learning a new language, `age of acquisition` can easily be confounded with `years of exposure and practice.`  Data has suggested that there may at least be a sensitive period, rather than a critical period for learning a second language that extends through mid-adolescence Linguistic Influences on Thinking Linguistic relativity hypothesis: language not only influences but also determines what we are capable of thinking; most psycholinguists do not agree with Benjamin Lee Whorf`s idea , that language determines how we think- they instead would say that language can influence how we think, categorize information, and attend to our daily experiences  Language an also colour our perceptions, the decisions we make, and the conclusions we draw; it also not only influences how we think but also how well we think in certain domains Thinking Thought, Brain, and Mind  According to some neuroscientists, conscious thought arises from the unified activity of different brain areas; the many brain regions and connecting circuits that are active at any instant, a particular subset becomes joined in unified activity that is strong enough to become a conscious thought or perception Propositional thought: it expresses a proposition, or statement, such as `I`m hungry` Imaginal thought: consists of images that we can see, hear, or feel in our mind Motoric thought: relates to mental representations of motor movements, such as throwing an object  A
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