Rosemary Varley’s talk on December 3rd

On November 14, 2014 by Joana Rossello

Please mark your agenda. On the first Wednesday of December at 6pm in the Sala de professors, Rosemary Varley (UCL) will give us a talk on

Global aphasia: the case for autonomy of language and thought

Here is the abstract:

There are many claims within cognitive science that language plays an essential role in other domains of intrinsically non-language cognition such as social, spatial or mathematical reasoning. The nature of these claims differ. Strong versions of the language and thought hypothesis propose that the mechanisms and representations of language are necessary for sustaining many forms of thought, while other positions adopt the weaker view that they merely support or scaffold thinking.

The performance of people with severe aphasic language impairment allows evaluation of claims of linguistic mediation in other domains of reasoning in the established/adult cognitive system. Indeed, comparisons of individuals with severe lexical versus grammatical impairment provides unique insights into the different roles these linguistic components might play in reasoning.

In this talk, I will report the performance of people with severe aphasia in a range of non-language domains, including understanding communicative intentions, reorientation and calculation. Our results reveal dissociations between severe impairment of language and residual reasoning capacity, particularly in the case of agrammatism. These findings suggest that, in the mature mind, there is considerable autonomy between language and various forms of thought.

Varley, R., Klessinger, N., Romanowski, C., & Siegal, M. 2005. Agrammatic but numerate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 102, 3519-3524.
Bek, J., Blades, M., Siegal, M. & Varley, R., 2010. Language and spatial representation: evidence from severe aphasia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 36, 3, 646-658.
Willems, RM., Benn, Y., Hagoort, P., Toni, I., & Varley RA. 2011. Communication without a functioning language system. Neuropsychologia, 49, 3130-3135.

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