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LINGUIST List 17.1831

Mon Jun 19 2006

FYI: Linguists and the Journal SCIENCE

Editor for this issue: Svetlana Aksenova <svetlanalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Lise Menn, Linguists and the Journal SCIENCE

Message 1: Linguists and the Journal SCIENCE
Date: 18-Jun-2006
From: Lise Menn <Lise.menncolorado.edu>
Subject: Linguists and the Journal SCIENCE

This is partly in response to private e-mails that followed some recent
List postings. I want to point out that there have been recent substantial
articles in SCIENCE of interest to linguistic theory, in addition to
important ones that can also be counted as anthropology, archaeology
(emergence of writing, population spread), psychology, cognitive science
(including animal cognition), and neuroscience (none of which are to be
sneezed at - in fact, I think more linguists should read articles on these
topics!). On June 9, there was an amazing article by Crinion et al.,
“Language Control in the Bilingual Brain”; here’s the abstract:

How does the bilingual brain distinguish and control which language is in
use? Previous functional imaging experiments have not been able to answer
this question because proficient bilinguals activate the same brain regions
irrespective of the language being tested. Here, we reveal that neuronal
responses within the left caudate are sensitive to changes in the language
or the meaning of words. By demonstrating this effect in populations of
German-English and Japanese-English bilinguals, we suggest that the left
caudate plays a universal role in monitoring and controlling the language
in use. Science 9 June 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5779, pp. 1537 - 1540

The major paper on the emergence of signed language in Nicaragua (A.
Senghas, S. Kita, and A. Özyürek, 305: 1779, 9/17/2004) is probably the
most notable example of linguists' core interests, but I'm compiling an
Excel file of articles of interest to linguists that I'll be posting when
Section Z gets its website set up. Others that I've noted are “Language and
the Origin of Numerical Concepts”, R. Gelman and C. R. Gallistel, 306: 441,
10/15/2004; “Structural Phylogenetics and the Reconstruction of Ancient
Language History”, M. Dunn, A. Terrill, G. Reesink, R. A. Foley, and S. C.
Levinson, 309: 2072, 9/23/05. Pat Kuhl drew my attention to many classics,
and to Dehaene-Lambertz, G., Dehaene, S. & Hertz-Pannier, L. “Functional
neuroimaging of speech perception in infants”, Science 298, 2013 (2002).

There are lots of important recent items on, e.g., ape cognition, Mayan
writing, and brain modularity (primary visual cortical responses are
modifiable by reward information; primary visal cortex processing is
supposed to be the prototypical case of cognitive impenetrability and it
looks like it just imploded?).

If you want Linguistics to have more clout in SCIENCE, the first step is to
become an active member of AAAS (student membership $75). Go to
http://www.aaas.org/membership, and/or read the note about AAAS in the
forthcoming LSA Bulletin (http://www.lsadc.org) if you’re an LSA member.

Lise Menn
Secretary, AAAS Section Z – Linguistics and Language Sciences

Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable

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