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FSU PSB 2000 - Language

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LanguageWhat kind of “language” do other species have? What do we learn from studying how other species communicate or from their potential for language?• Primateso Chimps: attempted to teach chimps ASL or other visual systems Chimps didn’t use symbols in new original combinations Used symbols to request, not describe Produced requests more then they understood Some understanding (could answer who, what and where questions w. correct type of answer, if not correct answer itself)o Bonobos: very human-like; what Kanzi learned: 250 human words; language of 2-2 ½ yr old Understand more than they can produce Use symbols to name/describe Request items they don’t see Use symbols to describe past events Original, creative requests• Non-primateso Elephants imitate the sounds they hear, including vocalizations of other elephantso Dolphins learn to respond to gestures and sounds Ex.] SeaWorld!o Alex, the African gray parrot learned to give spoken answers to spoken questions  Ex.]What color is the key? What object is gray? How many blue keys are there?• What do we learn from this?o How to teach language to people who do not easily learn ito Our concept of language is ambiguousWhat is the hypothesis on how humans evolved language?• Hypothesis 1: a by-product of overall brain development/intelligenceo Problems with this But some people w/ normal sized brain don’t have normal language; language requires specialization, not just expansion Family w/ normal intelligence and normal activity in language centers but poor language skills (dominant gene) Williams syndrome: Deletion of many genes on chromosome 7; decreased gray matter• Mental impairment, but skillful use of language• Hypothesis 2: an extra brain module, aka, a new specializationo Evidence Ease w/ which children learn language even if no one teaches them, they invent their own (Applies to deaf and hearing children) Gene that is mutated in a family w/ pronunciation & grammar problems This gene is found in both humans and chimps, but differs b/t the species at 2 sites Has effects on brain development and structures of jaw and throat important for languageo Problems with this There are areas for language, but language isn’t always their only jobIs there a critical period for learning language? If so, when is it? Is there a critical period for learning a second language?• The younger the better…probably a “critical period” but no sharp cut-off age• No exposure to any language in infancy and young childhood  never develop much skill at any language• Learn foreign language before puberty to speak w/o an accentWhere is language? Generally (L hemisphere, with a role for the right as well) and specifically…? Are a person’s first and second languages in the same location?• Left hemisphereo 95% of strongly right handed people have language on L sideo 60% of left-handed and ambidextrous have language on L• Child w/ L hemispherectomy before puberty  can acquire language on R• R hemisphere is important for some aspects of language, like prosodyWhat is “aphasia”? What causes it and who does it affect?• Aphasia- impairment of languageo Due to brain injury (traumatic, stroke, tumor, etc)o Can be very mild to very severeo Around 1 million people in USo Can happen to anyoneo Can be transient• Purpose of speech therapy is to help the patient to fully utilize remaining skills and to learn compensatory means of communicationWhat are Broca’s aphasia and Wernike’s aphasia? What are the symptoms of each and what brain regions are involved?• Broca’s aphasia- a non-fluent aphasia; caused by damage to Broca’s area & surrounding areao Part of frontal lobe of L cortex near motor cortexo Difficulty with motor production of words and speak slowly and inarticulately Omit prepositions and conjunctions, and have difficulty understanding them Trouble saying “no ifs ands or buts”o Trouble reading “to be or not to be” but can read “two bee oar knot two bee” So problem w/ language, not just vocal muscles Trouble with writing and gestureso Comprehension deficits w/ complicated sentence structure• Wernicke’s aphasia- fluent aphasia; impaired ability to remember names of objectso Impaired language comprehensiono Articulate speech (speak smoothly) but nonsenseo Difficulty finding the right wordAre Broca’s area and Wernike’s area the only brain areas important for language?• Need connection b/t Wernikes area and motor cortex for understanding and forming words. • Get activation of motor cortex w/ any action word (kick activates foot part of motor


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