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ex machina

i wonder why didn't i see the headlines - "canadians score big win for chomsky's "language module!"? hmmm.

sidestepping the fact that i haven't bothered to read the original paper, i'll still point to a blurb entitled, brain scans reveal the basis of language [requires "free" registration to view the entire article] that makes some big claims:
"These studies showed that two areas of the brain, the superior temporal gyrus and part of the inferior frontal cortex, are active in each group. Those regions were thought to be involved in processing sound, but it is now clear that they are dedicated to processing highly specific parts of natural language - the abstract symbols that make up both signed and spoken language."

""We wanted to know, 'is there any aspect of our mental world that is biologically programmed into specific neural tissue before birth?' The alternative view was that the brain is a great bowl of grey Jello in which environment factors shape the neural pathways during early development," noted Pettito."

""The answer to the question is, 'yes - there is part of the brain tissue that is dedicated to processing aspects of natural language.'"
i'll bet noam is pretty happy:
"The way to make the general assumptions less obscure is to discover the nature of the various specialized "learning mechanisms" -- the systems LT(O,D), in my terminology -- among them the "language organ" FL, the states it can in principle attain, the "neural circuits" involved, etc. That is also the way to arrive at one or another " the domain-generality vs. domain-specificity debate," a very tentative position I would think, given the limits of current understanding. I concede that I don't really understand what this debate is about in the way it is usually waged (without my participation). There are very interesting questions about just what might be specific to human language (part of LT(Human, Language), the dedicated "learning mechanism" that is the "language organ"). These are the topics of inquiry in all study of language and other cognitive systems that I know of. But I do not understand the more general "debate" that seems to arouse much passion."
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7/03/2001 08:38:00 AM 0 comments


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