Nativism and neuroconstructivism in the explanation of Williams syndrome

Biology and Philosophy 18 (1):41-52 (2003)
Abstract
  Nativists about syntactic processing have argued that linguisticprocessing, understood as the implementation of a rule-basedcomputational architecture, is spared in Williams syndrome, (WMS)subjects – and hence that it provides evidence for a geneticallyspecified language module. This argument is bolstered by treatingSpecific Language Impairments (SLI) and WMS as a developmental doubledissociation which identifies a syntax module. Neuroconstructivists haveargued that the cognitive deficits of a developmental disorder cannot beadequately distinguished using the standard gross behavioural tests ofneuropsychology and that the linguistic abilities of the WMS subject canbe equally well explained by a constructivist strategy of neurallearning in the individual, with linguisitic functions implemented in anassociationist architecture. The neuroconstructivist interpretation ofWMS undermines the hypothesis of a double dissociation between SLI andWMS, leaving unresolved the question of nativism about syntax. Theapparent linguistic virtuosity of WMS subjects is an artefact ofenhanced phonological processing, a fact which is easier to demonstratevia the associationist computational model embraced byneuroconstructivism
Keywords Brain  Constructivism  Language  Nativism  Neuroscience  Science
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Claudia Lorena García (2007). Cognitive Modularity, Biological Modularity and Evolvability. Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution and Cognition (KLI) 2 (1):62-73.
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