What is Language?
Professor Marc Hauser defines language as an internal process that involves ways of manipulating symbols. It is qualitatively different to "communication."
So the relationship between language and cognition is a tricky one, in part because people have very different views on what language actually is. So, maybe just to be clear, for me, language is a form of internal thought that involves ways of manipulating symbols. So when I create a sentence, what I have functionally done is that I have thought about some aspect of the world that I want to communicate to somebody else and I have got abstract pieces that I can manipulate - like a noun and a verb and an adjective and a determiner. So, language is an internal process that we then externalize by means of communication. And I think itâ€™s important to distinguish between language, on the one hand, and communication, on the other. All organisms have ways of communicating, whether it is by electricity in electric fish, or by song in birds, or grunts and coos in monkeys. We have ways of communicating that are also not language, so I have my body language, we refer to it as "body language", but there itâ€™s a gesture with an arm, or a wink, or whatever it is going to be. Language is a much more formal system, itâ€™s internal, and we need not express it. So, I can have all sorts of thoughts that are linguistic, and I need not express them. So, it is important to keep separate what is described as language, from a linguistic perspective, and communication, which is one way in which we can externalize the internal thoughts.
language, cognition, internal thoughts, body language
An overview of language-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.
Language: image collage of heiroglyphs, sign language, and books.
The frontal lobe is part of the cerebral cortex and is the largest of the brain's structures. It is the main site of so–called 'higher' cognitive functions.
The SHANK3 gene is associated with a number of cognitive disorders including autism.
Doctor Thomas Insel defines social cognition as the way we process information about recognition, social memory, social motivation, and language.
The temporal lobes contain a large number of substructures, whose functions include perception, face recognition, object recognition, memory, language, and emotion.
The middle and inferior temporal gyri are involved in cognitive processes, including semantic memory, language, visual perception, and sensory integration.
Professor Christian Keysers discusses the hypothesis that babbling in infants may actually be the way a child trains its mirror neuron system.
Temple Grandin, author of 'Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports From My Life With Autism' compares her brain to a visual web browser.
Wernicke's area is a functionally defined structure that is involved in language comprehension.