Measuring Language in the Brain

Prof. dr. Douglas Saddy

Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, University of Reading, UK

Abstract

Attempts to understand the relationship between language and the brain have a long history. Recent theoretical, technological, methodological and analytic developments have provided us with the opportunity to look a little closer at the workings of the intact and damaged brain. In this talk I will give an overview of recent attempts to measure brain activity related to Language processes. One important aspect of this endeavour is that it is truly multi-disciplinary, involving cooperation between linguists, psychologists, mathematicians, geneticists, physicists and others. This level of scientific integration is challenging. It requires flexibility and a willingness to reconceptualise problems and to recognize common interests, but it returns synergistic results. Current best practice in neuro-linguistic research not only uses the available methods, analytic approaches and technologies to reveal the neural architecture and processes underpinning language but also use language as a vehicle to probe and extend the limits of the methods, analytic approaches and technologies. I will try to survey this multi-disciplinary landscape by addressing three basic questions:

  • where – what parts of the brain are associated with language use?
  • when – what is the time course of language processing?
  • how – what mechanisms support the processing of language?

and maybe even a little why.