It has recently been argued that public linguistic norms are implicated in the epistemology of testimony by way of underwriting the reliability of languagecomprehension. This paper argues that linguistic normativity, as such, makes no explanatory contribution to the epistemology of testimony, but instead emerges naturally out of a collective effort to maintain language as a reliable medium for the dissemination of knowledge. Consequently, the epistemologies of testimony and languagecomprehension are deeply intertwined from the (...) start, and there is no room for grounding the one in terms of the other. (shrink)
It has been shown that when participants are asked to make sensibility judgments on sentences that describe a transfer of an object toward or away from their body, they are faster to respond when the response requires a movement in the same direction as the transfer described in the sentence. This phenomenon is known as the action compatibility effect. This study investigates whether the ACE exists for volunteers with Alzheimer's disease, whether the ACE can facilitate languagecomprehension, and (...) also whether the ACE can still be produced if the order of the two events is inverted, that is, whether overt movement can prime comprehension of transfer sentences. In Study 1, participants with AD, younger, and older adults were tested on an adaptation of the ACE Paradigm. In Study 2, the same paradigm was modified to include an arm movement that participants had to perform prior to sentence exposure on screen. In Study 1, young, older adults, and individuals with AD were faster to respond when the direction of the response movement matched the directionality implied by the sentence. In Study 2, no traditional ACE was found; participants were faster when the direction of the movement immediately preceding the sentence matched the directionality of the sentence. It was found that compatibility effects generated a relative advantage, that transfer schemata are easier to process, and that an ACE-like effect can be the result of mutual priming between language and movement. Results suggested preservation in AD of the neural systems for action engaged during languagecomprehension, and conditions under which comprehension in AD can be facilitated in real life may be identified. (shrink)
Perceptual symbol systems form a theoretically plausible alternative to amodal symbol systems. At this point it is unclear whether there is any truly diagnostic empirical evidence to decide between these systems. We outline some possible avenues of research in the domain of languagecomprehension that might yield such evidence. Languagecomprehension will be an important arena for tests of the two types of symbol systems.
It is often suggested that we are equipped with a set of cognitive tools that help us to filter out unreliable testimony. But are these tools effective? I answer this question in two steps. Firstly, I argue that they are not real-time effective. The process of filtering, which takes place simultaneously with or right after languagecomprehension, does not prevent a particular hearer on a particular occasion from forming beliefs based on false testimony. Secondly, I argue that they (...) are long-term effective. Some hearers sometimes detect false testimony, which increases speakers’ incentives for honesty and stabilizes the practice of human communication in which deception is risky and costly. In short, filtering prevents us from forming a large number of beliefs based on false testimony, not by turning each of us into a high-functioning polygraph but by turning the social environment of human communication into one in which such polygraphs are not required. Finally, I argue that these considerations support strong anti-reductionism about testimonial entitlement. (shrink)
Typical spatial descriptions, such as “The car is in front of the house,” describe the position of a located object (LO; e.g., the car) in space relative to a reference object (RO) whose location is known (e.g., the house). The orientation of the RO affects spatial languagecomprehension via the reference frame selection process. However, the effects of the LO's orientation on spatial language have not received great attention. This study explores whether the pure geometric information of (...) the LO (e.g., its orientation) affects spatial languagecomprehension using placing and production tasks. Our results suggest that the orientation of the LO influences spatial languagecomprehension even in the absence of functional relationships. (shrink)
Barsalou proposes (sect. 4.1.6) that perceptual symbols play a role in language processing. Data from our laboratory document this role and suggest the sorts of constraints used by simulators during languagecomprehension.
Natural language processing involves a tight coupling between action (the production of language) and perception (the comprehension of language). We argue that similar theoretical principles apply to language processing as to action/perception in general. Language production is not driven solely by the speaker's intentions; languagecomprehension is not only input-driven; production and perception use common representations. We will relate recent findings from our language production lab to the Theory of Event Coding (...) (TEC)'s principle of feature binding. (shrink)
We recorded Event-Related Potentials to investigate differences in the use of gender information during the processing of reflexive pronouns. Pronouns either matched the gender provided by role nouns (such as “king” or “engineer”) or did not. We compared two types of gender information, definitional information, which is semantic in nature (a mother is female), or stereotypical (a nurse is likely to be female). When they followed definitional role-nouns, gender-mismatching pronouns elicited a P600 effect reflecting a failure in the agreement process. (...) When instead the gender violation occurred after stereotypical role-nouns the Event Related Potential response was biphasic, being positive in parietal electrodes and negative in anterior left electrodes. The use of a correlational approach showed that those participants with more “feminine” or “expressive” self sex-role descriptions showed a P600 response for stereotype violations, suggesting that they experienced the mismatch as an agreement violation; whereas less “expressive” participants showed an Nref effect, indicating more effort spent in linking the pronouns with the possible, although less likely, counter-stereotypical referent. (shrink)
Our main considerations take as a starting point the educational policy demand for a model of competence of text comprehension, which should make it possible to measure and systematically increase comprehension accomplishments and competences. The approach of classical cognitive psychology appears particularly suitable for this purpose, which determines comprehension as a rule-guided transfer of a sign complex into a mental representation. However, such representationalism tends to be aporetic in character. A way out of this problem is offered (...) by recent concepts of understanding from the area ofEmbodied Cognition, according to which all mental operations are embedded in physical interaction processes. Comprehension means, in this sense, letting physical primary experiences be reproduced in a trial-action fashion. This approach is, in this paper, reconsidered in relation to the role of subjectivity and affect: Physical experiences are meaning-generating because they exhibit a subjectively perceived affective valence between pleasure and suffering. The beginning of all understanding therefore is to be located within the emotional sphere.Such a conception of understanding is supposed to have a considerable impact upon language- and literature teaching in schools. For example, training of reading skills should always be embedded in body-bound experiences. Moreover, learning and understanding both mean cultivating an alert ear for affective undertones, needs and irritations, which might even lead to drawing the curricular benchmarks and competency targets into question. Finally, as art and literature establish areas of freedom and play, literature teaching, especially, needs to be founded on affective awareness, discursive openness and proceeding voluntariness. (shrink)
The paper aims to show how and to what extent social and cultural cues influence figurative language understanding. In the first part of the paper, we argue that social-contextual knowledge is organized in “schemas” or stereotypes, which act as strong bias in speaker’s meaning comprehension. Research in Experimental Pragmatics has shown that age, gender, race and occupation stereotypes are important contextual sources of information to interpret others’ speech and provide an explanation of their behavior. In the second part (...) of the paper, we focus on gender stereotypes and their influence on the comprehension of figurative language, to show how the social functions of figurative language are modulated by gender stereotypes. We provide then an explanation of gender stereotypical bias on figurative language in terms of possible outcomes in the social context. (shrink)
Languagecomprehension requires a simulation that uses neural systems involved in perception, action, and emotion. A review of recent literature as well as new experiments support five predictions derived from this framework. 1. Being in an emotional state congruent with sentence content facilitates sentence comprehension. 2. Because women are more reactive to sad events and men are more reactive to angry events, women understand sentences about sad events with greater facility than men, and men understand sentences about (...) angry events with greater facility than women. 3. Because it takes time to shift from one emotion to another, reading a sad sentence slows the reading of a happy sentence more for women than men, whereas reading an angry sentence slows the reading of a happy sentence more for men than for women. 4. Because sad states motivate affiliative actions and angry states motivate aggressive action, gender and emotional content of sentences interact with the response mode. 5. Because emotion simulation requires particular action systems, adapting those action systems will affect comprehension of sentences with emotional content congruent with the adapted action system. These results have implications for the study of language, emotion, and gender differences. (shrink)
Mechanisms that contribute to perceptual processing dysfunction in schizophrenia were examined by Phillips & Silverstein, and formulated as involving disruptions in both local and higher-level coordination of signals. We agree that dysfunction in the coordination of cognitive functions (disconnection) is also indicated for many of the linguistic processing deficits documented for schizophrenia. We suggest, however, that it may be necessary to add a timing mechanism to the theoretical account.
Sabdabrahma Siddhanta, popularized by Patanjali and Bhartruhari will be scientifically analyzed. Sphota Vada, proposed and nurtured by the Sanskrit grammarians will be interpreted from modern physics and communication engineering points of view. Insight about the theory of language and modes of language acquisition and communication available in the Brahma Kanda of Vakyapadeeyam will be translated into modern computational terms. A flowchart of language processing in humans will be given. A gross model of human language acquisition, (...) class='Hi'>comprehension and communication process forming the basis to develop software for relevant mind-machine modeling will be presented. The implications of such a model to artificial intelligence and cognitive sciences will be discussed. The essentiality and necessity of a physics, communication engineering , biophysical and biochemical insight as both complementary and supplementary to using mathematical and computational methods in delineating the theory of Sanskrit language is put forward. Natural languagecomprehension as distinct and different from natural language processing is pointed out. (shrink)
Expectation-based theories of languagecomprehension, in particular Surprisal Theory, go a long way in accounting for the behavioral correlates of word-by-word processing difficulty, such as reading times. An open question, however, is in which component of the Event-Related brain Potential signal Surprisal is reflected, and how these electrophysiological correlates relate to behavioral processing indices. Here, we address this question by instantiating an explicit neurocomputational model of incremental, word-by-word languagecomprehension that produces estimates of the N400 and (...) the P600—the two most salient ERP components for language processing—as well as estimates of “comprehension-centric” Surprisal for each word in a sentence. We derive model predictions for a recent experimental design that directly investigates “world-knowledge”-induced Surprisal. By relating these predictions to both empirical electrophysiological and behavioral results, we establish a close link between Surprisal, as indexed by reading times, and the P600 component of the ERP signal. The resultant model thus offers an integrated neurobehavioral account of processing difficulty in languagecomprehension. (shrink)
The famous advaitic expressions -/- Brahma sat jagat mithya jivo brahma eva na apraha and Asti bhaati priyam namam roopamcheti amsa panchakam AAdya trayam brahma roopam tato dwayam jagat roopam -/- will be analyzed through physics and electronics and interpreted. -/- Four phases of mind, four modes of language acquisition and communication and seven cognitive states of mind participating in human cognitive and language acquisition and communication processes will be identified and discussed. -/- Implications and application of such (...) an identification and analysis to the fields of cognitive sciences, mind-machine modeling, natural languagecomprehension field of artificial intelligence and physiological psychology will be hinted. A comprehensive modern scientific understanding of human consciousness, mind and mental functions will be presented. (shrink)
In infancy, maternal socioeconomic status is associated with real-time language processing skills, but whether or not this relationship carries into adulthood is unknown. We explored the effects of maternal SES in college-aged adults on eye-tracked, spoken sentence comprehension tasks using the visual world paradigm. When sentences ended in highly plausible, expected target nouns, higher SES was associated with a greater likelihood of considering alternative endings related to the action of the sentence. Moreover, for unexpected sentence endings, individuals from (...) higher SES backgrounds were sensitive to whether the ending was action-related or unrelated, showing a benefit for plausible endings. Individuals from lower SES backgrounds did not show this advantage. This suggests maternal SES can influence the dynamics of sentence processing even in adulthood, with consequences for processing unexpected content. These findings highlight the importance of early lexical experience for adult language skills. (shrink)