This article addresses the issue of compositionality of mental representations from the perspective of a foundational framework for cognitive science. The dynamical cognition framework (DC framework) is inspired partially by connectionism and partially by the persistence of the problem of relevance within classical computational cognitive science. It treats cognition in terms of the mathematics of dynamical systems: total occurrent cognitive states are mathematically/structurally realized as points in a high-dimensional dynamical system, and these mathematical points are physically realized by total-activation states of a neural network with specific connection weights. The framework repudiates the classicist assumption that cognitive-state transitions conform to a tractably computable transition function over cognitive states. Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) states that the causal role of a mental representation is syntactically determined, but this idea of syntactic determination of causal role is ambiguous.
This chapter provides a selective overview of recent research on the phonetics and phonology of bilingualism. The central idea put forth in the chapter is that, in bilingualism and second-language learning, cross-language categories are involved in complex interactions that can take many forms, including assimilations and dissimilations. The sound categories of the two languages of a bilingual seem to coexist in a common representational network and appear to be activated simultaneously in the processing of speech in real time, but some degree of specificity is attested. The chapter then goes on to explore some of the characteristics of cross-language sound interactions, including the fact that these interactions are pliable and appear to be mediated by the structure of the lexicon.
Richard P. Meier
This essay considers the acquisition of sign languages as first languages. Most deaf children are born to hearing parents, but a minority have deaf parents. Deaf children of deaf parents receive early access to a conventional sign language. The time course of acquisition in these children is compared to the developmental milestones in children learning spoken languages. The two language modalities—the oral-aural modality of speech and the visual-gestural modality of sign—place differing constraints on languages and offer differing resources to languages. Possible modality effects on first-language acquisition are considered. Historically, many deaf infants born to hearing parents have had little access to a conventional language. However, these children sometimes elaborate “home sign” systems. Lastly, the role of early experience in language acquisition is considered. Deaf children of hearing parents are immersed in a first language at varying ages, enabling a test of the critical-period hypothesis.
Neil M. McLachlan
The perception of a sound’s timbre and pitch may be related to the more basic auditory function of sound recognition. Timbre may be related to the sensory experience (or memory) by which we recognize the source or meaning of a sound, while pitch may involve the recognition and mapping of timbres along a cognitive spatial dimension. Musical dissonance may then result from failure of sound recognition mechanisms, resulting in poor integration of pitch information and heightened arousal in musicians. Neurobiological models of auditory processing that include cortico-ponto-cerebellar and limbic pathways provide an account of the neural plasticity that underpins sound recognition and more complex human musical behaviors.