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Hayden Walles, Department of Computer Science


Forked Tongue: Pathways to Language in the Brain


Archway 2 - 1:00 pm, Friday 28 July


There is nothing new about the idea that certain parts of the human brain are essential to language. Yet there is little consensus on how the brain deals with language. Theories of language have conventionally bypassed the brain entirely, while neuroscientists and psychologists have often lacked the linguistic knowledge needed to map language functions in the brain.

Over the past twenty years the relationship between the study of language and the study of mind has thawed, though, and there is a growing awareness that these disciplines can assist each other. Cognitive linguists seek to explain the structure of human language as side-effects of our psychology. In the brain, this means going off the beaten path and exploring apparently non-linguistic regions rather than looking for a single, dedicated language module.

I will be justifying this approach, based on the evolution of languages and brains.  I will also present some theories in this mould, including the hypothesis I am working on at the moment which posits a link between visual attention and classification in the brain and aspects of noun phrases in language.

Last modified: Monday, 24-Jul-2006 17:05:41 NZST

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