From Neuron to Language International Symposium
Methodological innovations provide a wealth of data and insight into the living brain. The uniquely human faculty of language is now subject to investigation at molecular, anatomical, developmental, and behavioural levels in a radically shifting research landscape.
The brain's path in computing the meaning of a heard utterance can now be mapped millisecond per millisecond, and a picture emerges on which subcomponents of language enter into this process, in which order, and where they are localized in the brain. The findings question many philosophical preconceptions of language and human nature. In particular, it is now clear that substantive parts of the human anatomy, genetics, and neural circuitry underlying language processing in the brain are not unique to humans and have evolutionary histories reaching far beyond the primate lineage. At the same time, linguistic knowledge encompassing abstract systems of representations such as syntax and semantics still remains elusive, as does the exact involvement of memory in the linguistic process, and in fact the connection between brain matter and mind at large.
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