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Chapter 9

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Psychology
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Psychology 1000
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Dr.Mike

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Psychology Midterm 1 Chapter 9: Language and Thinking Mental representations: Cognitive representations of the world, including images, ideas, concepts, and principles, that are the foundations of thinking 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 Some evolutionary theorists believe that the use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social units Four properties essential to language are symbols, structure, meaning, generativity and a fifth, displacement 1. Language is symbolic and structured  Language uses sounds, written characters, or some other system of symbols to represent objects, events, ideas, feeling, and actions  No matter how a word came to being, it has an agreed upon meaning to those who speak the language  Grammar is a set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to creating meaningful units of communication  Syntax are the rules that govern the order of words 2. Language conveys meaning  Semantics is the meaning of words and sentences o Using expressions and phrases can be understood by people familiar with the language and its meanings but may be misinterpreted by people who are not (“nailed it” example) 3. Language is generative and permits displacement  Generativity means that the symbols of language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning (there are 26 letters in the English language that can be combined into words which can be combined into sentences)  Displacement refers to the fact that language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present (we can discuss the past and future, people objects and events that are elsewhere as well as imaginary things) Psychology Midterm 2 Surface structure and deep structure of language  Surface structure consists of the symbols that are used and their order. The syntax is the rules for ordering  Deep structure refers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols, which involves semantics  Ambiguous sentences are when a single surface structure can give rise to two deep structures (the police must stop drinking after midnight) The hierarchical structure of language  Phoneme: the smallest unit of speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning (examples: th and sh). Have no meaning but alter meaning when combined with other elements  Morphemes: the smallest units of meaning in a language (ex. Dog, log, ball and prefixes and suffixes). Morphemes are not always syllables (ex. Fans has 2 morphemes but only 1 syllable)  Discourse: in which sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations, and so forth  Phonemesmorphemeswordsphrasessentencediscourse The role of bottom-up processing  Individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception  Analyzing hierarchical structure of spoken language as a set of building blocks that involved the use of phonemes to create morphemes and the combinations of morphemes to create words reflects a bottom-up approach  Cell groups analyze the basic elements of the visual patterns that are right before your eyes and feed this info to other cell groups that lead you to perceive these patterns as letters The role of top-down processing  Sensory information is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, ideas, and expectations  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  Filling in missing letters is an example (Bill g_ve…)  Speech segmentation: perceiving where each words within a spoken sentence begins and ends  We use several cues to tell when one spoken word ends and another begins. For example, through experience we learn that certain sequences of phonemes are unlikely to occur within the same words so we can better tell where words end and begin  Psychology Midterm 3  Context provided by other words in a sentence can help find the meaning of an individual word. Experiments by Irwin Pollack and J.M. Pickett showed that single words when played from conversations are rarely identified Pragmatics  A knowledge of the practical aspects of using language  It takes more than vocabulary and arranging words grammatically to understand language and communicate effectively with others, you need pragmatics (understanding, “do you have the time?”)  One rule of pragmatics is that messages should be as clear as possible. Depending on who you’re speaking with you would adjust your language to suit them (talking to an English speaker vs. talking to a foreigner)  Another rule depends on other aspects of the social context. You would write a text message in a different way than you would write an essay The brain  Broca’s area, located in the left hemisphere’s frontal lobe, is most centrally involved in word production and articulation  Wernicke’s area, in the rear portion of the temporal lobe, is more centrally involved in speech comprehension  Aphasia: impairment in speech comprehension and/or production that can be permanent or temporary  Visual area of the cortex is also involved in recognizing written words  Men who suffer left-hemisphere strokes are more likely than women to show severe aphasic symptoms. This suggests women’s language function is shared with their right hemisphere (experiments by Susan Rossell supports this) Acquiring language  Humans are born linguists, inheriting a biological readiness to recognize and eventually produce the sounds and structure of whatever language they are exposed to (biologically primed process)  Young infants can perceive the entire range of phonemes found in the world’s languages  Between 6-12 months of age, infants begin to discriminate only those sounds specific to their native tongue (example: Japanese lose the ability to distinguish between R and L sounds whereas English speakers don’t)  Language Acquisition Device (LAD): Noam Chomsky proposes humans are born with an innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical (universal grammar) rules common to all languages. Language contains such things as noun phrases and verb phrases that are arranged in particular ways (a switch in the brain that indicates whether to insert a pronoun before a verb when learning English is switched to on, whereas it is switched to off for a Spanish speaker)  Child-directed speech: a high-pitched intonation used all over the world Psychology Midterm 4  B.F. Skinner developed an operant conditioning explanation for language acquisition stating that children’s language development is strongly governed by adults’ positive reinforcement or correction if inappropriate verbilizations o Observational studies have shown that parents do not typically correct their children’s grammar as language skills are developing. Parent’s corrections focus primarily on the “truth value” (deep structure). For example, they wont correct a child who says “I have two foots” but will correct one who says “I have four feet”  Language Acquisition Support System (LASS): Jermone Burner uses this to represent factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language o When LAD and LASS interact in a mutually supportive fashion, normal language develops (both social and biological factors are important) Developmental timetable and sensitive periods  Children progress from crying to cooing, babbling, and one-word utterances  By 2 years of age, children utter sentences called telegraphic speech that at first consist of a noun and a verb, with nonessential words left out  By 5 years of age, a nonverbal creature has come to understand and produce complex language  Language-deprived children who are not taught before puberty seem unable to acquire normal language skills despite extensive training  Deaf children must also be taught sign language before puberty to have normal language skills Bilingualism  A second language is learned best and spoken most fluently when it is learned during the sensitive period of childhood  Language can be learned at any age but mastery of the syntax, or grammar depends on early acquisition  After age 7, mastery of English grammar becomes progressively more difficult  Fred Genesee has sown that children begin to differentiate their two languages by 2 years of age and that they will not confuse the multiple languages they are learning  French immersion programs?? Maybe look over it… that Wally Lambert guy had something to do with it  Bilingual children show superior cognitive processing compared to monolingual peers and better understand the symbolic nature of print, even before they can read  Bilingual children better perform on perceptual tasks that require them to inhibit attention to an irrelevant feature of an object and pay attention to another feature (experiment with the computer and the boxes)  Bilingual people have greater flexibility in thinking and better performance on standardized intelligence tests Psychology Midterm 5  The earlier one learns a language the better—learning before puberty is best (critical period hypothesis)  Some studies say there is no difference between the abilities of people who tried to learn a language from their late teens to adulthood (for Korean and Chinese) but other studies say there is a difference between teens to adults (Spanish)  Overall, at present, the data suggests there may at least be a sensitive (rather than critical) period for learning a second language that extends though mid-adolescence  In general, it appears that when people acquire a second language early in life or learn it to a high degree of proficiency later in life, both language share a common neural network (Daniela Perani at Uni of Milan) THINKING  Lundemo is a patient with epilepsy who participates in a study at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. He plays a videogame with his mind by thinking which direction he wants a paddle to go in, to hit a ball (like pong). Electric mind over electronic matter  Thought exists as patterns of neural activity  Thinking includes several mental activities o Propositional thought: thinking that takes the form of verbal sentences that
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