Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives

By George A. Miller | Go to book overview

5 BIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE

Eric H. Lenneberg

The biological study of language is primarily concerned with the human brain. How does our brain make it possible for us to learn a language such as Turkish, English, or Russian? Is there something new or unique in man's brain? What is lacking in the brains of dogs or monkeys that keeps them from understanding any sentences in these natural languages? Research to answer these questions might take either of two directions: we might begin by surveying what is known about the human brain and then try to apply this knowledge to the study of language; or we might first study language thoroughly and then see whether the findings help us in understanding how the brain works. Both approaches have been found to be useful, often simultaneously. For instance, we might study patients who have something wrong with their brains and then see what effects disease has on language performance. In this example we start with a guess (usually supported by clinical evidence) of where the injury (lesion) is located. The next step in the logic of our argument might be to propose a mechanism of cerebral processes and to say how these processes have been disrupted by the disease. Thus, one might tentatively say of a given case: "The injury destroyed fibers between the reception stations for vision and for audition (that is, for sight and sound); therefore auditory information (words) can no longer be associated with visual information (objects), and this, in turn, should make it impossible for the patient to learn any new words." This, then, would become our working hypothesis, and our research would be concerned with obtaining data that either support or disprove the hypothe

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Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • The Authors v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • 1: Psychology and Communication 3
  • 2: Psychology and the Theory of Language 13
  • 3: The Realm of Syntax 23
  • 4: The Realm of Meaning 36
  • 5: Biological Aspects of Language 49
  • 6: The Brain and Language 61
  • 7: Speech Development and Bird Song: Are There Any Parallels? 73
  • 8: Primate Communication 84
  • 9: Teaching Apes to Communicate 95
  • 10: The Development of Language in Children 107
  • 11 - Learning to Read 117
  • 12: The Speech Code 128
  • 13: Artificial Speech 141
  • 14: Language and Perception 149
  • 15: Language and Memory 159
  • 16: Language and Thought 172
  • 17: Language and Probability 185
  • 18: Communication and Computers 196
  • 19: Communication in Small Groups 208
  • 20: Mass Communication 219
  • 21: Nonverbal Communication 231
  • 22: Persuasion 242
  • 23: Language and Psychopathology 256
  • 24: The Sociology of Language 268
  • 25: Translation and Bilingualism 280
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 291
  • Index 299
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