GARCIA adolfo Martin
congresos y reuniones científicas
Interdisciplinary Directionality in Neurolinguistic Modeling
GARCÍA, ADOLFO MARTÍN Y GIL, JOSÉ MARÍA
Conferencia; XVIII Annual Conference of the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States; 2011
Lingiustic Association of Canda and the United States
One of the main problems facing contemporary neurolinguistics is cross-sterilization, as no explanatorily significant progress is being made in the dominant research program (Poeppel and Embick 2005). A crucial reason behind this problem lies in the lack of epistemological reflection regarding the ontological assumptions and methodological procedures whereby linguistic constructs are correlated with neurological notions. Neurolinguistics is, of course, an interdiscipline, involving not just linguistics and neuroscience, but also the various fields which nurture each of those key domains e.g., cognitive science and cytology, respectively. In this sense, a crucial point to consider is that every exercise of neurolinguistic modeling involves not just interdisciplinarity, but also interdisciplinary directionality. Given a specific linguistic theory L (e.g., Systemic-Functional Grammar) and a specific neuroscientific model N (e.g., Wernicke-Geschwind connectionism), there are actually three modeling directions that can be followed. The neurolinguist can (i) take L as a plausible starting point and then assess, or simply assert, its compatibility with N (going from L to N); (ii) take N as a plausible starting point and then use it to explain L (going from N to L); or (iii) notice some structural and/or functional similarities between L and N and create a new theory by justifying and refining those initial apparent correspondences (so that aspects of L and N are claimed to converge). We shall call these three directional approaches ab lingua modeling, a cerebro modeling, and convergent modeling, respectively. The purpose of this presentation is to characterize and critically analyze these three approaches by reference to a contemporary example of each of them. In particular, we shall consider Chomskyan Biolinguistics (e.g., Chomsky 1986, 2005), as the epitome of ab lingua modeling; Pulvermüllers theory of Functional Webs (Pulvermüller 2002), as a case of a cerebro modeling; and Lambian Neurocognitive Linguistics (Lamb 1999, 2004), as an example of convergent modeling. It is expected that this classificatory exercise will contribute to neurolinguistics in two ways: for the purposes of criticism, it could provide a systematic basis to identify the methodological maneuvers underlying the merits and flaws of a given theory; and, as an aid in theory-construction, it could help the neurolinguist make more informed decisions as he develops his own model. Chomsky, Noam. 1986. Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin and Use. New York: Praeger. Chomsky, Noam. 2005. Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry 36(1): 1-22. Lamb, Sydney. 1999. Pathways of the Brain: The Neurocognitive Basis of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Lamb, Sydney. 2004. Language and Reality. Selected Writings of Sydney Lamb, ed. Jonathan Webster. London: Continuum. Poeppel, David and Embick, David. 2005. Defining the relation between linguistics and neuroscience, in Twenty-First Century Psycholinguistics: Four Cornerstones, ed. Anne Cutler. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum: 103-118. Pulvermüller, Friedemann. 2002. The Neuroscience of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.