Language Cognition and Neuropsychology
Language cognition refers to the relationship between language and the brain. It is a growing field of research that attempts to describe how language directs the brain’s processes.
The brain must, of course, have something to do with language if it can comprehend it. Does the language have a role in understanding, too?
Researchers now most commonly approach language cognition from a neurological perspective. Cognitive neuroscientists study the relationship between language and the brain using neuropsychological methods such as neuropsychological testing, behavioral experiments, and neurofunctional analyses.
These approaches provide essential insights into how language activates brain regions responsible for our sense of language, memory, attention, visual processing, syntactic organization, and emotion.
The outcomes of these studies can help researchers to understand more about how language influences brain functioning.
Neuroanatomy is part of the neurological structure of the brain. It consists of the speech center (locus cerebellum), language center (locus linguistic), and sensorimotor areas.
It is thought that the language part of this network may mediate the relationship between language and cognition. In addition, the relationship between language and other cognition such as memory, judgment,
and reasoning also may have a relationship to the anatomical structure of the brain. The primary function of the language center is probably the one mentioned above: determining the meaning of messages.
But language may also play a more central role in the development of our cognitive abilities. As we learn language early in life, we acquire representations that will shape our neural architecture over the long term.
One way to think about this is in terms of language path permanence. Language learning acts by acquiring representations that will shape our neural structures into different states (phases) later on.
Instance Language Learning
For instance, in language learning, a child who has taken an object representation (such as the words ‘be’, ‘eat,’ ‘sleep,’ ‘hurry’ and so on) and interacted with a caregiver can already be experiencing the effect of the representation on his brain at the time that he is spoken.
It is not clear what role communication plays in adult cognition and memory or the emergence of novel concepts. A popular view in these matters is that language is a retrieval system. What this means is that it retrieves information from the environment that determines the meaning of a statement.
So the question is: how does language affect the brain? Does it change the brain’s structure, and how? One possibility is that it changes understanding; however, there is no research to support this idea.
It is also not clear how language cognition relates to other areas of brain function, especially intelligence. Language likely plays a role in cognitive processing in the short as well as the long term.
However, it is unclear whether language cognition is uniquely shaped by the genetic factors of our genetics and remains universal to humans. It is also not manifest how it compares to other domains of cognitive function such as learning and memory.
For instance, although language cognition has been shown to mediate linguistic understanding and problem-solving, the underlying relationship remains unclear.
On the one hand, language cognition has been shown to relate to an individual’s ability to reason correctly and understand what is being said.
Relationship Between Language Cognition
But researchers have also found that the relationship between language cognition and neural mechanisms is more complex and less transparent than was once thought.
Some brain areas are directly activated when a person speaks or reads a sentence or a text. But language cognition also affects other domains of cognition and in many ways influences how the brain processes information.
Some areas of the brain have a specialization in language understanding. This makes intuitive sense since language is a complex system of grammar, word meaning, sentence organization, phrase construction, verbal cues, gestures, tonality, intonation, and many other aspects of spoken communication. If these brain parts were somehow “trained” to function in a certain way, it would make logical sense to play a role in language cognition and neuropsychology research.
But this is not the case. Although the specific functions of these different parts of the language brain have been studied, they seem to be doing different jobs and not just operating in isolation.