Language and the Brain

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Language and the brain Many people assume the physical basis of language lies in the lips, the tongue, or the ear. But deaf and mute people can also possess language fully. People who have no capacity to use their vocal cords may still be able to comprehend language and use its written forms. And human sign language, which is based on visible gesture rather than the creation of sound waves, is an infinitely creative system just like spoken forms of language. But the basis of sign language is not in the hand, just as spoken language is not based in the lips or tongue. There are many examples of aphasics who lose both the ability to write as well as to express themselves using sign-language, yet they never lose manual dexterity in…show more content…
We have also seen that certain disorders involving the subcortex--the seat of involuntary emotional response--may have linguistic side effects, such as in some cases of Tourette's syndrome. But what happens when the areas of the brain which control language are affected directly, and the individual's abstract command of language is affected? We will see that language disorders can shed a great deal of light on the enigma of the human language instinct. SLI. One rare language disorder seems to be inborn rather than the result of damage to a previously normal brain. I have said that children are born with a natural instinct to acquire language, the so-called LAD; however, a tiny minority of babies are born with an apparent defect in this LAD. Certain families appear to have a hereditary language acquisition disorder, labeled specific language impairment, or SLI. Children born with this disorder usually have normal intelligence, perhaps even high intelligence, but as children they are never able to acquire language naturally and effortlessly. They are born with their window of opportunity already closed to natural language acquisition. These children grow up without succeeding in acquiring any consistent grammatical patterns. Thus, they
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