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The brain dynamics of linguistic computation

Murphy, E; (2015) The brain dynamics of linguistic computation. Frontiers in Psychology , 6 , Article 01515. 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01515. Green open access


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Neural oscillations at distinct frequencies are increasingly being related to a number of basic and higher cognitive faculties. Oscillations enable the construction of coherently organized neuronal assemblies through establishing transitory temporal correlations. By exploring the elementary operations of the language faculty—labeling, concatenation, cyclic transfer—alongside neural dynamics, a new model of linguistic computation is proposed. It is argued that the universality of language, and the true biological source of Universal Grammar, is not to be found purely in the genome as has long been suggested, but more specifically within the extraordinarily preserved nature of mammalian brain rhythms employed in the computation of linguistic structures. Computational-representational theories are used as a guide in investigating the neurobiological foundations of the human “cognome”—the set of computations performed by the nervous system—and new directions are suggested for how the dynamics of the brain (the “dynome”) operate and execute linguistic operations. The extent to which brain rhythms are the suitable neuronal processes which can capture the computational properties of the human language faculty is considered against a backdrop of existing cartographic research into the localization of linguistic interpretation. Particular focus is placed on labeling, the operation elsewhere argued to be species-specific. A Basic Label model of the human cognome-dynome is proposed, leading to clear, causally-addressable empirical predictions, to be investigated by a suggested research program, Dynamic Cognomics. In addition, a distinction between minimal and maximal degrees of explanation is introduced to differentiate between the depth of analysis provided by cartographic, rhythmic, neurochemical, and other approaches to computation.

Type: Article
Title: The brain dynamics of linguistic computation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01515
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01515
Additional information: Copyright © 2015 Murphy. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473510
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