Experience-dependent brain development as a key to understanding the language system

Westermann, Gert (2016) Experience-dependent brain development as a key to understanding the language system. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8 (2). pp. 446-458. ISSN 1756-8757

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An influential view of the nature of the language system is that of an evolved biological system in which a set of rules is combined with a lexicon that contains the words of the language together with a representation of their context. Alternative views, usually based on connectionist modeling, attempt to explain the structure of language on the basis of complex associative processes. Here I put forward a third view that stresses experience-dependent structural development of the brain circuits supporting language as a core principle of the organization of the language system. On this view, embodied in a recent neuroconstructivist neural network of past tense development and processing, initial domain-general predispositions enable the development of functionally specialized brain structures through interactions between experience-dependent brain development and statistical learning in a structured environment. Together, these processes shape a biological adult language system that appears to separate into distinct mechanism for processing rules and exceptions, whereas in reality those subsystems co-develop and interact closely. This view puts experience-dependent brain development in response to a specific language environment at the heart of understanding not only language development but adult language processing as well.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Topics in Cognitive Science
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Westermann, G. (2016), Experience-Dependent Brain Development as a Key to Understanding the Language System. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8: 446–458. doi: 10.1111/tops.12194 which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tops.12194/abstract This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? experience-dependent brain developmentneuroconstructivismenglish past tenseconnectionist modelingemergent modularitymassive modularitycognitive neurosciencelinguistics and languagehuman-computer interactionexperimental and cognitive psychologyartificial i ??
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Deposited On:
11 Dec 2015 15:34
Last Modified:
27 Jan 2024 00:28