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> blog post Reverse engineering the brain

Reverse engineering the brain
Sat, 07 Oct 2006 13:31:52

Departing Max Planck-director Pim Levelt was interviewed by the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad...

...about the process of language production: "We know that it takes 325 milliseconds before you have activated the concept, 100 milliseconds before the lemma, the syntactic word, is being activated. Then it costs another 100 milliseconds to retrieve the phonetics - the abstract sound structure - and then it also costs 150 milliseconds to calculate the the phonetic structure, so the concrete way of speaking. In total 675 milliseconds." The article is a bit vague about what process he's talking about here, but still.

the article
the article

About learning a second language: "first a second langauge takes up quite a big area [of the brain]. But slowly it becomes smaller, hence more efficient, and it is displaced to the area where also the first language is being run."

He also talks about patients that suffer from Broca's aphasia, a linguistic impairment characterized by a telegraphic way of speaking. His team connected these patients to research they did on a brainfacility called the elliptical registry, which we all use for example to compose a telegram: "They always said that they couldn't do otherwise, that their language ability was so damaged that they only spoke in short sentences. We discovered.. [that] the elliptical registry was a handy way to get around another problem. We now know that the activation of the lexical elements, when they [the patients] retrieve them, doesn't take long enough to make a complex syntactic tree ... When you use a register with which you only use little trees, the activation is just long enough to get it done."

I love the way in which these scientists nowadays talk about how the brain functions.

EDIT: click photo for the original article


on Sat, 07 Oct 2006 15:03:28 nyef said:

Would you mind posting a link to the interview itself?


on Sat, 07 Oct 2006 16:36:16 tieze said:

i wish i could but it's not online (yet). But their internet division is quite slow so maybe... on top of that they also hardly have content available online for non-members (which i am -- not a member). But if you want i can photocopy it. Just tell me and i'll take it to a place where i've got access to a camera.

on Sat, 07 Oct 2006 20:31:57 nyef said:

No, that's all right. I'm not so curious as to ask you to go to that much trouble.

(It turns out that I am curious enough to google a few terms, leading to finding a web site for the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, which seems relevant.)

on Mon, 20 Nov 2006 15:39:20 tieze said:

Sorry but i couldn't resist to comply. A bit late though. Click the picture.

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