Cognition and Linguistics, L645

TR 9-10:30 in Memorial 331 (Phonetics Lab)
Spring 1999, (Sec #2802). Draft April 8.

Robert Port, Instructor
330 Memorial Hall, 855-9217
Office Hours: MT 1:30-2:30


The issue is Representation. How is it that language achieves it? And what exactly HAS been achieved when language is used to `represent' something about the world? Words in natural language have both a phonological form and a semantic content. And the semantic content seems to come pretty much categorized into discrete symbol-sized chunks. Linguistic theories normally presume symbolic and formal structure for language. But results from other domains of cognition research frequently suggest quite different frameworks. Thus, (1) dynamical models of cognitive events are proving insightful, rather than discrete and static symbolic models, (2) human categorization behavior is best modeled by assuming large sets of stored exemplars rather than on abstract structures defined on a small number of degrees of freedom, (3) developments in neuroscience give us a glimpse of the distributed representation of words depending on many semantic properties, (4) language acquisition continues to surprise us, and so on. We shall try to consider what language-related behavior can tell us about what a human language might actually be.


Deacon, Terrance (1997) `The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain' (Norton)

Clark, Andy (1997) `Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again' (Bradford/MIT).



Seminar format. Students will present papers for discussion each week. Grade will be based on their presentation, a late semester (but prefinals) takehome exam and an essay or experiment proposal (topic developed with the instructor).

First couple weeks:


WEEK 1. Jan 11-14.

MON - Introduction/Overview.
THURS, As Background. (Port will lead discussion.) Read:
Haugeland, John (1997) `What is mind design?' in Mind Design II: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence. J. Haugeland (ed) (Bradford/MITP)

WEEK 2. Jan 19-21.

TUES, Jan 18. Chomskyism. (Presented by Deborah Burleson)
Chomsky, Noam (1967) The formal nature of language. Appendix to E. Lenneberg `Biological Foundations of Language' (J. Wiley), pp. 397-422.
THURS, Jan 20. (Presented by Sean McLennan.)
Chomsky, N. `Review of Skinner`s Verbal Behavior'

WEEK 3. Jan 26-28.

THURS. Jan 28 (rescheduled) (Presented by Graham Troop.)
B. F. Skinner `Behaviorism at 50' Science 140 (1963), 951-958.

WEEK 4. Feb 2-4.

TUES. (Presented by Winston Goh.)
Haugeland, John (1992) `Representational Genera' In J. Haugeland (ed) `Having Thought: Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind.' (Harvard Univ Press.) pp. 171-206.
THURS. (Port)
Kosslyn, Stephen (1995) `Mental imagery', in S. Kosslyn and Daniel Osherson (eds) Invitation to Cognitive Science: Volume 2 Visual Cognition, 2d ed. MITP, pp. 267-296.


WEEK 5. Feb 9-11.

TUES. (Jarosz)
Brooks, Rodney A. Intelligence without representation (1991) in J. Haugeland (ed) Mind Design II (MITP). pp 395-420.
THURS. (Koh)
Clark, Andy (1997) Being There. Read: Intro, Chapts 1, 2 (pp. 1-50)
Recommended reading:
Brian Smith's `Situatedness/Embeddedness encyclopedia article' (4 pages)

WEEK 6. Feb 16-18.

TUES (Nagao)
Thelen, Esther (1995) Time-scale dynamics and the development of an embodied cognition. In Port and van Gelder (eds) Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition. (Bradford Books, MITP), pp. 69-100.
THURS (McClennan )
Clark-1997, Chapt 4. `Collective wisdom, slime-mold-style'.

WEEK 7. Feb 23-25

TUES (Port )
Rumelhart, David (1989) The architecture of mind: A connectionist approach. In Michael I. Posner (ed) Foundations of Cognitive Science (Bradford/MITP, Cambridge MA), pp. 133-159. Reprinted in J. Haugeland (ed) Mind Design II: Philosophy, Psychology and Artificial Intelligence (Bradford/MITP, Cambridge MA), pp. 205-250.


THURS (Burleson )
Fodor, Jerry and Zenon Pylyshyn (1988) Connectionism and cognitive architecture.: A critical analysis. Cognition 28, 3-71. An abbreviated version in Haugeland Mind Design II, pp. 309-350. But I recommend reading the original version in Cognition since Haugeland chopped mostly discussion of language and linguistic issues.

WEEK 8, Mar 1-3

TUES (Troop)
Lakoff, George (1987 ) Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. (Univ Chicago P, Chicago) Chapters 1, 5, 6, (pp. 5-11, 77-114)
Website about the metaphors of the self in the Lakoff-Johnson tradition.
THURS (Jarosch)
Lakoff, G. (1987) Chapters 10, 11 (pp. 153-184) ``Objectivity and Natural Kinds'


WEEK 9, Mar 8-10

TUES (Kyoko Nagao))
Deacon, Terrence (1997) The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. Skim Preface and early Chap 1, then read pp. 39-46, and Chapt 2 (47-68).
To explore the history of the `sign' check this web index site about semiotics.
Recommended: Article on laughter by Robert Provine.
Article supporting gestural source of human language by M. Corballis.
THURS (Winston Goh)
Deacon, Terrence (1997) Chapt 3 (69-101). On Icons, Indices and Symbols, ala Peirce.

WEEK 10, Mar 23-25. (After Spring Break)

TUES (Michael Koh)
Deacon, Terrence (1997) Read Chap 4, pp 102-127, 141-142 (language as a social and biological institution) and skim the rest. Skim Chapters 5, 6, 7. Read Chapt 8. on neural control over speech musculature: both visceral and skeletal.
THURS (Steve Jarosch)
Deacon, T, Chapter 9. Role of prefrontal cortex, Williams syndrome.

WEEK 11, Mar 30-April 1

TUES (Port) Chap 10. Aphasia, localization, lateralization,
THURS (Port) Chap 11. Language adaptations
Recommended: Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, 1991, Principles of Neural Science. Chap 1 `Overview' (pp. 5-17), 54 `Disorders of Language: The Aphasias'(839-851).
Note on Deacon and Seidenberg (R. Port, April 3)


WEEK 12, April 6-8.

TUES (Port) Seidenberg, Mark (1997) Language acquisition and use: Learning and applying probabilistic constraints. Science 275, 1599-1603.
Recommended: Allen, Joseph and Mark Seidenberg (1999) The emergence of grammaticality in connectionist networks. To appear in B. MacWhinney (ed) Emergentist Approaches to Language (L Erlbaum), in press, I found postscript copy at the USC Language and Cognitive Science Lab.


THURS (Port) Grossberg, Stephen (1995) The attentive brain. American Scientist 83, 438-449.
Recommended: Haskins Labs sinewave speech demo.
Hertz, John, Anders Krogh and Richard G. Palmer (1991) Introduction to the Theory of Neural Computation. Chap 1 (intro), 8 (unsupervised Hebbian learning), Chap 9 (unsupervised competitive learning).
Grossberg, Stephen, Ian Boardman and Michael Cohen (1995) Neural dynamics of variable-rate speech categorization. J. Exptl Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

WEEK 13, April 13-15. (Final Questions distributed)

TUES (Port) Grossberg S. (1995) Neural dynamics of motion perception, recognition learning, and spatial attention. In R. Port and T. van Gelder (eds) Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition. (Bradford/MITP), Pp. 449-489.
THURS (Port) van Gelder, T. & R. Port `It's about time' in Port and van Gelder (eds) Mind as Motion:Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition (Bradford, MIT), pp. 1-44.
Comment by RP on Grossberg and van Gelder-Port.

WEEK 14, April 20-22

TUES (Port) van Gelder, Tim (1996) Dynamics and cognition. In J. Haugeland (ed.) Mind Design II. (Bradford/MITP) pp. 421-450. (Similar to but more succinct than ``What might cognition be if not computation.'')
Recommended: van Gelder, Tim (1995)`What might cognition be if not computation?' J. Philosophy 92, 345-381.
Bechtel, W. (1999) Representations and cognitive explanations: Assessing the dynamicist's challenge in cognitive science. Cognitive Science 22, 295-318.
THURS Clark, Andy (1997) Chap 5-6 On dynamical systems and emergence.

WEEK 15, April 27-29. Paper due, Wednesday. Final exams, Mon of exam week

TUES Clark (1997) Chap 7-8. On neuroscience, representation and `Reciprocal Continuous Causation'.
THURS Port's concluding lecture.