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Language Notes

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To what extent is the brain lateralised for language? Illustrate your answer with reference to patients with brain damage. What is the evidence supporting the view that: (i) the language we speak influences our thoughts and perceptions; (ii) the age at which we acquire a language influences our language ability?
What is the evidence supporting the view that there are critical periods for language acquisition?
Provide definitions for language, phonology, semantics and grammar (or syntax). Describe the grammatical abilities of patients with (i) Broca's aphasia and (ii) Wernicke's aphasia. Definitions





Language Phonology: Semantics: broadly defined as the meaning of linguistic expression Grammar/ syntax- the rules/grammar that specify how words can be combined into sentences in a given language

Auditory paths
-There are two routes for perceiving and producing speech

Lexical semantic processing; "what route" o Ventral to the Left primary cortex - this route makes contact with structures important for semantic memory auditory motor correspondence "how route" o Auditory , motor, visual aspects of speech converge o Region is linked to motor theory of speech perception as region is active when silently articulating a phrase/ thinking about a phrase

Functional imaging studies have shown that primary auditory cortex of both left and right hemispheres responds equally to speech and other types of auditory stimuli This suggests divergence at a lateral cortical stage- beyond the auditory cortex, humans begin to show a greater left hemisphere responsiveness for speech relative to non-speech along the what route of temporal lobes o

Scott et al 2000- showed increased activity in left temporal region in intelligible relative to intelligible speech

Pure word deafness: found following damage to the left hemisphere-these patients are able to identify environmental sounds and music but not speechthese patients are able to produce speech but heard speech appears to be too fast/ distorted Broca's area

Broca's patient Leborgne only utterance was word 'Tan' - despite this language deficit Lebornge was capable of comprehending spoken and written language Broca did an autopsy on Leborgne and discovered large lesion of left inferior prefrontal cortex- which is now known as Broca's area Deficit: o Expressive difficulties
 language is slow and laboured
 lacking in grammatical structure
 speech also lacks intonation and inflection of normal language o Comprehension difficulties
 Comprehension of spoken language normal
 Problem in understanding grammatically complex language

This shows broca's area is important for expression of language and understanding of grammar Wernicke's area

Brodmann area 22- superior temperol gyrus 1874 Wernicke discovered that damage to region of left temporal lobeposterior to auditory cortex was associated with deficit in language comprehension and speech that is meaningless or devoid of intelligible content/meaning So damage to Wernicke area is associated with receptive difficulties 
speech that is fluent and grammatically content but is utterly nonsense - fluent aphasia

Wernicke-Gerschwind model of language

Geschwind proposed that when we hear spoken language sounds are first processed by auditory cortex which then passes its input to Wernicke's area where sounds are decoded and comprehended. Then if a response is necessary Wernicke's area further translates thought processes into verbal responses which are transmitted to Broca's area via the left articulate fasciculus. In Broca's area the necessary neurons for articulation and complex muscle co-ordination so that appropriate spoken language reply can be voiced
-Wernicke is connected to Broca's area via the arcuate fasciculus and loss of this results in conduction aphasia - this refers to difficulties repeating words just heard

Spoken word recognition- Wernicke's

matching some aspect of an acoustic form to a stored set of spoken words that comprise the set of known word's speaker's vocabulary- this store of words is known as phonological lexicon and the matching process is called lexical access

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