The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Communication

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Communication

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Communication

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Communication

Synopsis

This is a book about speech and language. It is primarily intended for those interested in speech and its neurophysiological bases: phoneticians, linguists, educators, speech therapists, psychologists, and neuroscientists. Although speech and language are its central topic, it provides information about related topics as well (e.g. structure and functioning of the central nervous system, research methods in neuroscience, theories and models of speech production and perception, learning, and memory). Data on clinical populations are given in parallel with studies of healthy subjects because such comparisons can give a better understanding of intact and disordered speech and language functions.

There is a review of literature (more than 600 sources) and research results covering areas such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, development of the nervous system, sex differences, history of neurolinguistics, behavioral, neuroimaging and other research methods in neuroscience, linguistics and psychology, theories and models of the nervous system function including speech and language processing, kinds of memory and learning and their neural substrates, critical periods, various aspects of normal speech and language processes (e.g. phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, reading), bilingualism, speech and language disorders, and many others.

Newcomers to the field of neurolinguistics will find it as readable as professionals will because it is organized in a way that gives the readers flexibility and an individual approach to the text. The language is simple but all the technical terms are provided, explained, and illustrated. A comprehensive glossary provides additional information.

Excerpt

Raymond D. Kent

As humans try to understand themselves, one of the greatest fascinations—and most challenging problems—is to know how our brains create and use language. After decades of earnest study in a variety of disciplines (e.g., neurology, psychology, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, to name a few), the problem of the brain and language is now addressed especially by the vigorous interdisciplinary specialty of cognitive neuroscience. This specialty seeks to understand the neural systems that underlie cognitive processes, thereby taking into its intellectual grasp the dual complexities of neuroscience and cognition. in her extraordinary book, Vesna Mildner gives the reader a panoramic view of the progress that cognitive neuroscience has made in solving the brain-language problem.

Mildner covers her topic in eight chapters that can be read in any order. Each chapter is a tightly organized universe of knowledge; taken together, the chapters are complementary in their contribution to the overall goal of the book. the first chapter addresses basic aspects of the development, structure, and functioning of the human central nervous system (CNS), arguably the most complexly organized system humans have ever tried to fathom. the author systematically identifies and describes the tissues and connections of the cns, thereby laying the foundation for the succeeding chapters that consider the topics of sex differences, the history of neurolinguistics, research methods, models and theories of the central nervous system, lateralization and localization of functions, learning and memory, and—the culminating chapter—speech and language. the sweep of information is vast, but Mildner succeeds in locking the pieces together to give a unified view of the brain mechanisms of language.

Science is a procession of technology, experiment, and theory. Mildner’s comprehensive review shows how these three facets of scientific progress have shaped the way we comprehend the neurological and cognitive bases of language. From early work that relied on “accidents of nature” (brain damage resulting in language disorders) to modern investigations using sophisticated imaging methods, the path to knowledge has been diligently pursued. the unveiling of the brain through methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography has satisfied a scientific quest to depict the neural activity associated with specific types of language processing. Today we stand at a remarkable confluence of information, including behavioral experiments on normal language functioning, clinical descriptions of neurogenic speech and language disorders, and neuroimaging of language processes in the intact living brain. But the profound potential of this synthesis is difficult to realize because the knowledge is spread across a huge number of journals and books. Vesna Mildner offers us a precious gift of scholarship, as she distills the information from more than 600 references to capture the science of brain and language.

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