Language and Cognition

Decent Essays
Language and Cognition
Axia College of the University of Phoenix
September 12, 2011

Language and Cognition Language is considered unique among humans. Language, as defined below, occurs only among the human species and does not exist elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Therefore, the study of how humans learn, process, and create meaning from linguistic utterances and the written word is a central feature of cognitive psychology. The many questions that arise from this line of research include whether language is a separate faculty apart from cognition or if language is a product of our general cognitive abilities (Harris, n. d.). To examine language in the context of cognition, it is necessary to arrive at a working
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Words are also interpreted in terms of context. In addition, “people recognize words through a matching process in which a spoken word is compared with a mental dictionary called a lexicon that contains representations of all the words they know (Willingham, 2007 p. 453). This important to cognitive system because once a phoneme string is found to match an entry in the lexicon, other properties including spelling and meanings can then be accessed. Lexical decisions are subject to priming. The lexicon can be primed by a word so that related words will more quickly come to mind. Disambiguation of sentences first requires that the words be placed in a logical order. Changing the order of the words can radically alter the meaning of a sentence. Psychologists refer to the psychological mechanism that recognizes phrase structure as the parser. It is the function of the sentence parser to process phrase structure. The parser may be guided by “syntactic factors (key words, minimal attachment, recency), frequency, and semantics (i.e., meaning) (Willingham 2007 p. 460). According to Willingham (2007), the two key aspects that help people to understand text are making inferences from the text and seeking coherence within the text. Making inferences is a process of filling in information not specifically stated within the text. The inferences are generally made based on the reader’s prior experiences. The search for coherence is the process comparing
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