Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Epigram

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Foreword

Noam Chomsky

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

Fifty years ago, Eric Lenneberg published his now-classic study that inaugurated the modern field of biology of language—by now a flourishing discipline, with remarkable richness of evidence and sophistication of experimentation, as revealed most impressively in Angela Friederici’s careful and comprehensive review of the field, on its fiftieth anniversary. ...

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xii

Language makes us human. It is an intrinsic part of us. We learn it, we use it, and we seldom think about it. But once we start thinking about it, language seems like a sheer wonder. Language is an extremely complex entity with several subcomponents responsible for the language sound, the word’s meaning, and the grammatical rules governing the relation between words. ...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xiii-xiv

Had I not met Noam Chomsky in fall 1979 at a workshop at the MIT Endicott House, I would not have written this book. His idea of language as a biological organ, and Jerry Fodor’s postulate of the modularity of mind—hotly debated at the time—left their trace in my subsequent work. I set out for the search of the neurobiological basis of language. In Language in Our Brain I present what we know today ...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-12

Humans are born to learn language. We learn our native language without any formal teaching or training, and we easily deal with language every day in all possible situations without even thinking about it. This means that—once learned—we use language automatically. This capacity is quite impressive, in particular when considering that no other creature or even machine is able to cope with language in a similar way. ...

read more

Part I

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 13-14

The miracle of language often occurs to us only when language does not function anymore, such as after brain damage, or when language acquisition becomes really tedious, such as when learning a second language. In everyday language, however, we never think about the efficiency of the language system that allows us to produce and understand complex sentences in milliseconds. ...

read more

1. Language Functions in the Brain: From Auditory Input to Sentence Comprehension

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 15-84

To comprehend an utterance means to interpret what has been said. Comprehension is achieved once linguistic meaning is successfully mapped onto and integrated into existing world knowledge. In order to reach this goal, the language processing system has to compute a number of different types of information including acoustic, ...

read more

2. Excursions

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 85-100

In the first chapter I discussed the brain basis of auditory language comprehension. According to a theoretical view (Chomsky, 1995b; Berwick, Friederici, Chomsky, and Bolhuis, 2013) language is assumed to consist of three larger components, a core language system that contains the syntactic rules and the lexicon, and two interface systems. ...

read more

Part II

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-102

Language processing does not take place in a single brain region, but in several brain regions that constitute a larger language network. Chapter 1 described the different regions within the network and their particular function. During language processing, however, these regions have to cooperate. And the question is: ...

read more

3. The Structural Language Network

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 103-120

An adequate description of the neural basis of language processing must consider the entire network both with respect to its structural white matter connections and the functional connectivities between the different brain regions as the information has to be sent between different language-related regions distributed across the temporal and frontal cortex. ...

read more

4. The Functional Language Network

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 121-142

In the previous chapters I described the neural language network of functionally relevant brain regions (gray matter) and its structural connections (white matter). It became clear that online language processing requires information transfer via the long-range white matter fiber pathways that connect the language-relevant brain regions within each hemisphere and between hemispheres. ...

read more

Part III

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 143-144

In the first two parts of the book I focused on the mature brain when describing the language network. In the third part I will put my focus on the relation between language acquisition and the brain. In the discussion of language acquisition that either takes place early in life for our native language or later in life for a foreign language, ...

read more

5. The Brain’s Critical Period for Language Acquisition

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 145-162

Whether a critical period for language learning exists (or not) is one issue that interests many people who want to learn a foreign language. Learning a foreign language, as we know, is difficult later in life. Ongoing debates question why second language learning appears to be easy early in life but much more difficult as we age. We may reasonably assume this is due to neurobiological constraints ...

read more

6. Ontogeny of the Neural Language Network

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 163-200

Language seemingly starts with a newborn’s first cry. But in fact, language actually starts before birth, since a fetus is able to perceive acoustic information in utero. The acoustic information perceivable for the fetus in the uterus is filtered by the surrounding water and tissue. The auditory information arrives at the fetus filtered by about 400 Hz, providing prosodic information but no phonetics details. ...

read more

Part IV

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 201-202

In the last part of the book I will consider evolutionary aspects of the language network by providing comparisons between species based on behavioral as well as neuroanatomical aspects. These data make a strong suggestion concerning the crucial differences between the human who easily learns and uses language ...

read more

7. Evolution of Language

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 203-220

Historically, the debate on the evolution of language goes back to Plato. In one of his dialogues he questions whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an intrinsic relation to those things to which they refer. This question has persisted over the centuries and is still discussed in the context of language evolution. If words are arbitrary, where do they come from? ...

read more

8. The Neural Basis of Language

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 221-232

Language is an integral part of our daily life. We use it effortlessly, and when doing so, we usually think about what we want to say rather than how to say it in a grammatically correct way. Thus we use language quite automatically. The intriguing question is what puts us humans in the position to learn and use language the way we do. I started out in the beginning of the book by saying that this is due to an innate language faculty. ...

Glossary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 233-240

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 241-244

References

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 245-280

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 281-284