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What makes written words so special to the brain

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889193790 Year: Pages: 267 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-379-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-03 13:02:24
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Reading is an integral part of life in today's information-driven societies. Since the pioneering work of Dejerine on "word blindness" in brain-lesioned patients, the literature has increased exponentially, from neuropsychological case reports to mechanistic accounts of word processing at the behavioural, neurofunctional and computational levels, tapping into diverse aspects of visual word processing. These studies have revealed some exciting findings about visual word processing, including how the brain learns to read, how changes in literacy impact upon word processing strategies, and whether word processing mechanisms vary across different alphabetic, logographic or artificial writing systems. Other studies have attempted to characterise typical and atypical word processes in special populations in order to explain why dyslexic brains struggle with words, how multilingualism changes the way our brains see words, and what the exact developmental signatures are that would shape the acquisition of reading skills. Exciting new insights have also emerged from recent studies that have investigated word stimuli at the system/network level, by looking for instance, at how the reading system interacts with other cognitive systems in a context-dependent fashion, how visual language stimuli are integrated into the speech processing streams, how both left and right hemispheres cooperate and interact during word processing, and what the exact contributions of subcortical and cerebellar regions to reading are. The contributions to this Research Topic highlight the latest findings regarding the different issues mentioned above, particularly how these findings can explain or model the different processes, mechanisms, pathways or cognitive strategies by which the human brain sees words. The introductory editorial, summarising the contributions included here, highlights how varieties of behavioural tests and neuroimaging techniques can be used to investigate word processing mechanisms across different alphabetic and logographic writing systems.

The Grammar of Multilingualism

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889450121 Year: Pages: 195 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-012-1 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2018-02-27 16:16:44
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This volume investigates the nature of grammatical representations in speakers who master multiple languages. Since the early days of modern formal approaches to grammar, most work has been based on the language of monolingual humans. Less work has been conducted based on data from speakers who possess more than one language. Although important insights have been gained from a monolingual focus, there is every reason to believe that bi- and multilingual data can inform linguistic theory. A lot of ongoing work demonstrates that this is indeed the case, and the current volume contributes to this growing literature. Thus, the research topic addresses a number of questions relating to grammatical structures in multilingual speakers as well as the methodological issues that arise in the context of studying such speakers. A better understanding of the grammatical sides of multilingualism is crucial for understanding the human language capacity and in turn for offering better advice to the public concerning issues of language choice for multilingual children and adults, education, and language deficits in multilingual individuals.

Learning a non-native language in a naturalistic environment: Insights from behavioural and neuroimaging research

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889196395 Year: Pages: 150 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-639-5 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2016-08-16 10:34:25
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It is largely accepted in the relevant literature that successful learning of one or more non-native languages is affected by a number of factors that are independent of the target language(s) per se; these factors include the age of acquisition (AoA) of the target language(s), the type and amount of formal instruction the learners have received, as well as the amount of language use that the learners demonstrate. Recent experimental evidence suggests that one crucial factor for efficient native-like performance in the non-native language is the amount of naturalistic exposure, or immersion, that the learners receive to that language. This can be broadly defined as the degree to which language learners use their non-native language outside the classroom and for their day-to-day activities, and usually presupposes that the learners live in an environment where their non-native language is exclusively or mostly used. Existing literature has suggested that linguistic immersion can be beneficial for lexical and semantic acquisition in a non-native language, as well as for non-native morphological and syntactic processing. More recent evidence has also suggested that naturalistic learning of a non-native language can also have an impact on the patterns of brain activity underlying language processing, as well as on the structure of brain regions that are involved, expressed as changes in the grey matter structure. This Research Topic brings together studies on the effects of learning and speaking a non-native language in a naturalistic environment. These include more efficient or “native-like” processing in behavioural tasks tapping on language (lexicon, morphology, syntax), as well as changes in the brain structure and function, as revealed by neuroimaging studies.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889195183 Year: Pages: 89 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-518-3 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-10 11:59:06
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This research topic stems from the "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism" conference, which was hosted by the Language Research Centre at the University of Calgary. It was the first conference of its kind, which brought together the work of researchers, educators, and policy makers in the areas of first and second language acquisition from psycholinguistic and pedagogical perspectives. The goal was to provide an opportunity for participants to engage with the implications of multilingualism from a range of perspectives, including the effects of being bilingual from infancy to adulthood, the process and benefits of learning multiple languages, and the impact of multilingualism on society.

The Janus-Face of Language: Where Are the Emotions in Words and the Words in Emotions?

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889455508 Year: Pages: 316 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-550-8 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 14:53:42
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Language has long been considered independent from emotions. In the last few years however research has accumulated empirical evidence against this theoretical belief of a purely cognitive-based foundation of language. In particular, through research on emotional word processing it has been shown, that processing of emotional words activates emotional brain structures, elicits emotional facial expressions and modulates action tendencies of approach and avoidance, probably in a similar manner as processing of non-verbal emotional stimuli does. In addition, it has been shown that emotional content is already processed in the visual cortex in a facilitated manner which suggests that processing of emotional language content is able to circumvent in-depth semantic analysis.


Yet, this is only one side of the coin. Very recent research putting words into context suggests that language may also construe emotions and that by studying word processing one can provide a window to one’s own feelings. All in all, the empirical observations support the thesis of a close relationship between language and emotions at the level of word meaning as a specific evolutionary achievement of the human species. As such, this relationship seems to be different from the one between emotions and speech, where emotional meaning is conveyed by nonverbal features of the voice. But what does this relationship between written words and emotions theoretically imply for the processing of emotional information?


The present Research Topic and its related articles aim to provide answers to this question. This book comprises several experimental studies investigating the brain structures and the time course of emotional word processing. Included are studies examining the affective core dimensions underlying affective word processing and studies that show how these basic affective dimensions influence word processing in general as well as the interaction between words, feelings and (expressive) behavior. In addition, new impetus comes from studies that on the one hand investigate how task-, sublexical and intrapersonal factors influence emotional word processing and on the other hand extend emotional word processing to the domains of social context and self-related processing. Finally, future perspectives are outlined including research on emotion and language acquisition, culture and multilingualism.


In summary, this textbook offers scientists from different disciplines insight into the neurophysiological, behavioral and subjective mechanisms underlying emotion and language interactions. It gives new impulses to existing theories on the embodiment of language and emotion and provides new ways of looking at emotion-cognition interactions.

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