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Language and thought are not the same thing: evidence from neuroimaging and neurological patients

Fedorenko, E; Varley, R; (2016) Language and thought are not the same thing: evidence from neuroimaging and neurological patients. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences , 1369 pp. 132-153. 10.1111/nyas.13046. Green open access

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Abstract

Is thought possible without language? Individuals with global aphasia, who have almost no ability to understand or produce language, provide a powerful opportunity to find out. Surprisingly, despite their near-total loss of language, these individuals are nonetheless able to add and subtract, solve logic problems, think about another person's thoughts, appreciate music, and successfully navigate their environments. Further, neuroimaging studies show that healthy adults strongly engage the brain's language areas when they understand a sentence, but not when they perform other nonlinguistic tasks such as arithmetic, storing information in working memory, inhibiting prepotent responses, or listening to music. Together, these two complementary lines of evidence provide a clear answer: many aspects of thought engage distinct brain regions from, and do not depend on, language.

Type: Article
Title: Language and thought are not the same thing: evidence from neuroimaging and neurological patients
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13046
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13046
Language: English
Additional information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fedorenko, E; Varley, R; (2016) Language and thought are not the same thing: evidence from neuroimaging and neurological patients. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1369 pp. 132-153, which has been published in final form at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13046. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-828039.html#terms).
Keywords: aphasia, cognitive control, executive functions, fMRI, functional specificity, language, music, navigation, neuropsychology, numerical cognition, semantics, syntax, theory of mind
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1489434
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