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Thought Beyond Language

Thought Beyond Language A central question in cognitive science is whether natural language provides combinatorial operations that are essential to diverse domains of thought. In the study reported here, we addressed this issue by examining the role of linguistic mechanisms in forging the hierarchical structures of algebra. In a 3-T functional MRI experiment, we showed that processing of the syntax-like operations of algebra does not rely on the neural mechanisms of natural language. Our findings indicate that processing the syntax of language elicits the known substrate of linguistic competence, whereas algebraic operations recruit bilateral parietal brain regions previously implicated in the representation of magnitude. This double dissociation argues against the view that language provides the structure of thought across all cognitive domains. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Science SAGE

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References (43)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2012
ISSN
0956-7976
eISSN
1467-9280
DOI
10.1177/0956797612437427
pmid
22760883
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A central question in cognitive science is whether natural language provides combinatorial operations that are essential to diverse domains of thought. In the study reported here, we addressed this issue by examining the role of linguistic mechanisms in forging the hierarchical structures of algebra. In a 3-T functional MRI experiment, we showed that processing of the syntax-like operations of algebra does not rely on the neural mechanisms of natural language. Our findings indicate that processing the syntax of language elicits the known substrate of linguistic competence, whereas algebraic operations recruit bilateral parietal brain regions previously implicated in the representation of magnitude. This double dissociation argues against the view that language provides the structure of thought across all cognitive domains.

Journal

Psychological ScienceSAGE

Published: Aug 1, 2012

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