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  • PSYCHOLOGY 190    Section:


    Winter Quarter 2010

    Units: 4
    Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, major in Psychology or consent of instructor.

    Course Description and Goals

    In this course we will consider a range of topics relevant to the neural underpinnings of the representation and processes involved in the comprehension of human languages. The goal of the course is to critically review and compare main current theories of the cognitive neuroscience of language.  We will specifically zoom in on the role of Brocas area in language comprehension. Topics include the anatomy and connections of Brocas area to other regions of the brain, the representation of the (meaning) of words, and sentence and discourse processing. This course aims to give students (1) knowledge of how different techniques in cognitive neuroscience have been used to address important theoretical issues, (2) practice with critically reading and evaluating research reports and reviews in the area, and (3) experience developing research questions, designing an experiment to test those questions, and writing a research proposal.


    On completion of this course, students should be able to:


    • Identify and explain how cognitive neuroscience models have contributed to our current understanding of various aspects of language comprehension.
    • Analyze and evaluate primary research reports in the area
    • Write a 6-8 page review on an approved topic


    Course Requirements

    1) Review paper: 1st preliminary 2-page paper; 2nd preliminary 2-page paper; Final 6-8 page review paper.

    2) Participation in class discussions about the reading materials

    Sample Course Readings:


    Amunts, K., Schleicher, A. Buergel, U, Mohlberg, H., Uylings, H.B.M., Zilles, K. (1999). Brocas Region Revisited: Cytoarchitecture and Intersubject Variability. The journal of comparative neurology, 412, 319341.

    Friederici, A.D. (2002).Towards a neural basis of auditory sentence processing. Trends In Cognitive Sciences, 78-84

    Friederici, A. D., Bahlmann, J., Heim, S., Schubotz, R. I., & Anwander, A. (2006). The brain differentiates human and non-human grammars: Functional localization and structural connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 103(7), 2458-2463.

    Hagoort, P. (2005). On Broca, brain, and binding: a new framework. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 416-423

    Hagoort, P., Baggio, G. and Willems, R. M. in press. Semantic unification. In: The New Cognitive Neurosciences M. S. Gazzaniga (Eds.),  MIT Press.

    Kaan, E. & Swaab, T.Y. (2002). The brain circuitry of syntactic comprehension.
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 350356

    Moss, H. E., Tyler, L. K., & Taylor, K. I. (2007). Conceptual structure. In G. Gaskell (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Moss, H. E., Abdallah, S., Fletcher, P., Bright. P., Pilgrim, L., Acres, K., & Tyler, L. K. (2005). Selecting among competing alternatives: Selection and retrieval in the left inferior frontal gyrus. Cerebral Cortex, 15(11), 1723-1735.

    Snijders, T. M., Vosse, T., Kempen, G., van Berkum, J. J. A., Petersson, K. M. and Hagoort, P. (2009). Retrieval and unification of syntactic structure in sentence comprehension: an fMRI study using word-category ambiguity. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 1493-1503.

    Fedor, A., Pléh, C., Brauer, J., Caplan, D., Friederici, A. D., Gulyás, B., Hagoort, P., Nazir, T. and Singer, W. (2009). What are the brain mechanisms underlying syntactic operations? In: Biological foundations and origin of syntax, D. Bickerton and E. Szathmáry (Eds.), pp. 299-325. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Tyler, L.K., & Marslen-Wilson, W.D. (2008). Fronto-temporal brain systems supporting spoken language comprehension. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, Theme Issue The perception of speech: from sound to meaning, 363, 1037-1054.

    Willems, R., Ozyurek, A. and Hagoort, P. (2009).Differential contributions of left inferior frontal and superior temporal cortex during integration of language and action. Neuroimage, 47, 1992-2004







    Textbook Information not Available Yet
    Classroom Class Schedule Course Website
    TBA W   1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
    Instructor Instructor Email Office Office Hours
    Tamara Swaab , Ph.D. 268J Young Hall