Motor and Sensory Processes of Language

Motor and Sensory Processes of Language

Motor and Sensory Processes of Language

Motor and Sensory Processes of Language

Excerpt

Eric Keller Centre de recherche, Center Hospitalier Côte-des-Neiges and Université du Québec à Montréal

Myrna Gopnik McGill University

Until about 1970, neuropsychological and neurolinguistic research remained largely rooted in its medical origins and pursued a tradition of taxonomic distinction of language behaviors.

This approach to language had evolved from the diagnosis of neurological dysfunctions, and it defined classes of behaviors primarily by their degree of impairment through insults to various parts of the brain. For example, articulation behaviors were systematically distinguished from comprehension behaviors in this tradition, because one type of patient (the Broca's aphasic) regularly showed disturbed articulation in the presence of essentially intact auditory comprehension, whereas another type of patient (the Wernicke's aphasic) had a relatively greater comprehension disturbance, accompanied by a lesser articulation impairment. During a century and a half, this approach proved to be invaluable for patient classification and for distinguishing those cognitive and linguistic functions that can be selectively impaired through a neurological lesion.

However, as neuropsychological and neurolinguistic concerns expanded into a search for larger models of real-time language functions in the brain, the taxonomic tradition began to give way to the information-processing approach. In this perspective, various subsystems of human functioning are proposed on the basis of both, normal and neurally impaired behavior, and an attempt is made to understand the effects of a neurological lesion as the interaction of normal, pathological, and compensatory processes. A disorder . . .

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