Premotor Cortex, Action Control, and Language

Event Sponsor: 
Computation Institute Disciplinary Deep Dive Series (3-D) Language and Computation
Start Date: 
May 6 2008 (All day)
Research Institute, Room 480, 5640 S. Ellis Avenue
University of Chicago
Arthur Glenberg
Speaker(s) Title: 
Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University

To effectively control action, the brain has evolved to solve a number of thorny problems: Learning complex action sequences with hierarchical structure, exquisite timing of movements (e.g., in tennis, piano playing, walking) when sensory feedback may be too slow to help, and determining just what information in the sensory array might be useful. Interestingly, similar problems arise in learning and using language. Might the brain use mechanisms of action control to learn, produce, and comprehend language? Recent findings of mirror neurons tuned for action and speech recognition in premotor cortex (Broca's area in particular) suggest a positive answer. In this talk, I will illustrate how a formal theory of action control, Wolpert's HMOSAIC model, can be modified to account for basic facts in language. Then, I will discuss the results of several projects testing theoretically derived claims regarding language acquisition, how manipulating the motor system affects language comprehension, and how manipulating language comprehension affects the motor system.

Miscellaneous Information: 

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