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Neurolinguistics the study of how the brain

processes linguistic information

*the brain is the only primary organ concerned with

the processing of linguistic information

Nervous System
2 systems that monitor the bodys state and sends
messages to and from the bodys senses and organs

CNS includes brain and spinal cord

PNS includes any neural tissue outside the
- Conducts impulses either toward or
away from the CNS
Basic Brain Function
- responsible for alertness or energy level
of the brain
- Brain must be alert to
communicate/process information
- Aids the performance of the other two
- Controls information so it can be
analyzed, coded and stored
- If the information is not organized, cant
retrieve it when needed
- Responsible for the formation of
intentions and programs for behavior
- Activates the brain for regulation of
attention and concentration
Hemispheric Assymetry (Function)

Right Hemisphere
- Visual Memory
- Complex linguistic and ideational
material (concepts and ideas)
- Environmental and nonspeech sounds
- Comprehension of speech prosody
- Understanding of metaphors and
- Looks at information as a whole picture
- In general, abilities are limited to
receptive aspects of language
Left Hemisphere
- Dominant for language
- All modalities found hereoral, written,

Arithmetic (abstract symbols that

represent abstract ideas)
Logic and reasoning
Speech movements control of speech
and nonspeech movements
Looks at information in bits and pieces
and puts it together

Interesting brain facts

Approx. 98% of population is left brain

Left Handed People
- Approx. 60% are left brain dominant for
- Approx. 40% are right brain dominant
for language

Brain Weight

Gross brain weight is an index of neural

Head circumference is an important physical
measurement that should be taken regularly
in young infants and children. It provides
information about the growth of the brain
Both genetic factors and experience are
significant brain growth and development
Changes rapidly occur in the first 2 years:
- Weight triples
- Chemical changes occur
- Internal pathways become organized and
connect the various portions of the brain
Brain reaches mature weight by age 12

Linguistic Processing

Brain function holistically

Both receptive and expressive language
processing takes place primarily in the left
hemisphere of the brain in most adults
Information Processing
- Strategies used by individuals for
voluntary problem solving
2 language processes
- Comprehension (receptive)
- Production (expressive)
Difficult to assign specific cortical locations
in the brain for these processes
- Processes not localized in a particular
- Processes often overlap

Models of Linguistic Processing

Models are only attempts to explain brain

- Information processing
o Top/Down and Bottom/Up
o Passive/Active
o Serial/ Parallel
o Metalinguistic

Information Processing Model

Four Processes

-listener aware of a situation and actively
processes information
-3 aspects of attending:
o Orientation ability to sustain
attention over a period of time;
prerequisite skill
o Reaction the amount of time
required to respond to a stimulus
o Discrimination ability to identify
the characteristics of incoming
information and compare it to what
you already know
- better memory is a result of better
- Information is chunked by category
- 2 organizational strategies:
o Mediational symbol forms a
link to some information or 2
different symbols are linked
o Associative one symbol is
linked to another of the same
- Ability to recall previously learned
- 3 types of memory
o Sensory Information Storage
separates incoming information
and stored information by
sensory modality
o Short Term Memory most
adults can retain 10 items at the

same time; information is held

here while encoded and
rehearsed before going to the
o Long Term Memory
information retained here by
rehearsal/repetition AND
- Aka generalization
- The ability to apply information known
to a new setting

Overview of Development

Development is a continuous process from

conception to maturity
Definitions related to development:
- Growth specific physical changes and
increases in a childs actual size; the
growth process occurs through much of
the life span the rate of growth varies
according to age
- Development increase in complexity- a
change from a relatively simple to the
more complicated and detailed
- Typical growth and development
indicates acquisition of certain skills and
behaviors according to a predictable rate
and sequence
- Atypical growth and development
growth or development that is
inconsistent with expectations of what is
viewed as normal or typical

Growth Patterns

Generalizations related to growth patterns

- Predictability of development
development patterns are predictable
however it is important to remember that
development in any domains is largely
dependent on the children having
appropriate stimulations and supported
opportunities to learn
- Milestones of development children
usually attain certain skills or abilities
within a predictable age ranges; the
opportunity for learning must be there in
order for the child to develop
- Phases/ Periods of development during
predictable phases, certain areas of
development are emphasized; each are

of development has its own

developmental cycles
Individual Differences no individual
child should be expected to conform to
all the averages or milestones; individual
development depends on many factors:
genetics, heredity, nutrition, gender, IQ,

Areas of Development

Physical development and growth

- This governs the major tasks of infancy
and childhood
- Physical growth related to progress in
other developmental areas
- Motor development the major focus of
this domain relates to the ability of a
child to move about and control various
body parts
- Principles that govern motor
o Cephalocaudal
o Proximodistal
o Gross to fine
- Related concepts of motor development:
o Mass to specific large muscle
movements are those of the head,
torso and limbs
o Gross Motor large muscle
movements such as locomotive
and nonlocomotive movements
o Fine or small motor
manipulative skills and involves
the eyes, hands, finger, etc.
Perceptual development
- Increasingly complex way a child makes
use of the information received through
- Perceptual process enables to focus on
the relevant at a particular moment an
screen out the irrelevant
- Aspects of perceptual development:
o Multisensory information is
generally received through more
than one sense organ at a time
o Habituation ability to ignore
everything except what is most
important to the immediate

o Sensory integration involves

translation of sensory
information into functional
*early learning is a sensorimotor experience
Cognitive Development
- Relates to the expansion of the childs
intellect or mental abilities
- Relates to how you store, organize,
retrieve information for problem solving
and generalization
- Basically, cognition involves
recognizing, processing, and organizing
information and then using it
- Cognitive processing is an ongoing
process of interaction between child and
perceptual view of objects or events in
the environment
- Cognitive skills will always overlap with
both perceptual development and motor
involvement and starting early in the
second year, comes another overlay,
emergence of speech and language
Communicative Development
- Language is defined as a system of
symbols, spoken, written, and gestural
that allow us to communicate with
- The first year of life is called
prelinguistic phase - the child is totally
dependent on body movements and
sounds to convey needs and feelings
- During the second year of life, linguist
or language stage follows
Socioemotional development
- Relates to how a child perceives himself
and his/her relationship to another

Developmental Stages

Must understand growth and development to

help us appreciate behavioral changes
associated with language development
Language is used to describe, explain about
the worlds around us
Birth 6 months
- Newborn aka neonate
- Motor behaviors are automatic at first
- Voluntary motor control evolves slowly
but steadily

Reflexes are the basis of all voluntary

- Two kinds of reflexes:
o Mass involves whole body
responds to stimulation
o Specific involves specific
muscle group of the body
- Most reflexes gone by 3-6 months
- Reflexes help assess neurological
- Basic cries
- Noncrying sounds
o Quasi resonationg nuclei
o Babbling (4 months)
o Fully Resonating Nuclei
7 12 Months
- Experiments with speech and problem
- By 12 months, begins to walk, speak and
use tools
- Reduplicated babbling (6-7 months)
- Echolalia (8-12 months) hearing
ability important for imitative play
- Variegated Babbling (8 months) use of
successive syllables that are different
- Jargon (7-10 months) long stream of
syllables/ may have a real word; syllable
combinations and adult like prosody
- Phonetically consistent form (9-11
months) sound combinations used to
refer to a specific
12 -24 months
- Much energy directed to walking
- Can walk, carry and pick up objects
- By 18 months, can walk backwards
- Play is solitary and nonsocial but likes to
be in spotlight
- About 18 months, imitates family chores
- About 12 months, single words-nouns
- At least an approx. of adult model
- Toddlers definition may not agree with

- Used in presence of real object

- Words used to name or attain something
- About 18 months, combines words
- Rate of vocabulary increases
2 year olds
- Talking
- Expressive vocabulary 900 1000
3 year olds
- More talking
- Have mastered vowel sounds and
consonants p,m,h,n,w,b,k,g,d
- Imitates adult intonation and swearing
4 year olds
- Even more talking
- Expressive vocabulary 1500 1600
- More complex sentence forms
- Declarative, interrogative, negative, and
imperative forms
- Sentence averages 4/5 words
- Masters additional consonants t,ing,f,j,y
5 years olds
- Uses 80% of adult syntactic structure
- Starts comprehending temporal concepts
i.e. yesterday, today, etc
- Expressive vocabulary 2200 words
- Masters additional consonants
- Uses regular and irregular verb tenses
- Tell stories and retell events
School Age
- Mental abilities mature form concrete to
problem solving requiring sensory input
and abstract thought
- Realizes language can influence and
- 1st grade expressive vocab 2600 words
- By 6, masters th and treasure
- By 8, consonant clusters str, sl, dr