Cog-C. Language, mind, and modularity (*Advanced!)(John E. Drury, Stony Brook University)
This seminar is advanced. some backgropund in cognitive psyhcology and/or linguistics is required.
What makes our species special in the biological world? Our ability to reason? Language? Music? Our sense of precise number and mathematics? Our ability to tell stories with sequences of images? Our awareness of self? These constitute a plausible shortlist of features of the mind/brain that we might claim are uniquely human. In this course, we will examine in detail theoretical and experimental work seeking to address Big Picture questions about the human mind starting with modern scientific investigations of the language faculty, and then broadening our inquiry to the relationship between language and thought and the extent to which the mechanisms subserving human language processing may overlap with other cognitive systems (music, number/mathematics). Along the way, we will encounter modern tools/methods for studying the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the human mind (neuroimaging & neuropsychology), trace our Big Picture questions back to their origins in the history of ideas (in some cases to antiquity), and handle a range of case studies illustrating how modern cognitive science connects theories and models of the mind/brain with empirical evidence. Students will engage in critical evaluation of primary research literature across a range of academic disciplines including linguistics, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, all in service of examining candidate answers to the question: What makes us Human?