RO高频:Language and the Brain

RO高频:Language and the Brain

Language and the Brain

The Domain of Study

Many linguistics departments offer a course entitled ‘Language and Brain’ or ‘Language and Mind.’ Such a course examines the relationship between linguistic theories and actual language use by children and adults. Findings are presented from research on a variety of topics, including the course of language development, language production and understanding, and the nature of language breakdown due to brain injury. These topics provide examples of what is currently known about language and the mind, and they offer insights into the central issues in this area of linguistic research.

Language is a significant part of what makes us human, along with other cognitive skills such as mathematical and spatial reasoning, musical and drawing ability, the capacity to form social relationships, and the like. As with these other cognitive skills, linguistic behavior is open to investigation using the familiar tools of observation and experimentation.


It is wrong, however, to exaggerate the similarity between language and other cognitive skills, because language stands apart in several ways. For one thing, the use of language is universal—all normally developing children learn to speak at least one language, and many learn more than one. By contrast, not everyone becomes proficient at complex mathematical reasoning, few people learn to paint well, and many people cannot carry a tune. Because everyone is capable of learning to speak and understand language, it may seem to be simple. But just the opposite is true—language is one of the most complex of all human cognitive abilities.



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