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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Postgraduate Course: Neuroscience of Language (PSYL11108)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will focus on the neural basis of language processing, including how language processing leverages mechanisms of perception, action, memory, and executive functions. Indicative topics include: word meaning and conceptual knowledge, speech perception and articulation, sentence processing, bilingualism, written language, and sign language. Throughout, the course will examine both typical adult language processing as well as neurogenic language disorders. The course material will be conveyed through lectures, assigned readings, and discussion of current debates.
Course description This course will provide a contemporary, focused survey of the neural basis of human language processing. The course will guide students through the methods, the key findings, and their implications for understanding the mechanisms of language processing and language impairments. It will begin with an overview of fundamental aspects of brain structure and function, then cover core areas of language processing, such as word meaning, speech perception and articulation, comprehension and production of complex expressions including grammatical structure and narrative speech, dialogue, processing language in written and signed modalities, and bilingualism. The course material will draw on structural and functional neuroimaging as well as studies of individuals with language deficits. It will also emphasise how understanding the neural basis of language sheds light on the cognitive mechanisms of language processing and how it can inform treatment of language impairments. The course material will be delivered through lectures and assigned readings, as well as class discussion to foster critical thinking and evaluation of the methods and theoretical claims. Critical thinking, independent research, and written communication will be further cultivated in the students¿ written assignments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation 30% (Weeks 5 to 7)
Essay 70% (1600 words) (Weeks 9 to 11)
Feedback Formative feedback is given by both the lecturer and fellow students throughout the course, in particular in relation to students presentations and essays. For both, students are encouraged to discuss the topic and draft/outline with the instructor ahead of the deadline (weeks 3-5 for presentations, weeks 7-9 for the essays) and to implement their feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Compare and contrast the neural systems that support human language processing.
  2. Critically evaluate theories linking the neural systems and cognitive/computational mechanisms of human language processing.
  3. Apply models or theories of language processes to other topics within the psychology of language, for example, language impairments like dyslexia and aphasia.
  4. Communicate and critique contemporary research on the neurobiology of language.
Reading List
To be confirmed

Possible readings/resources:

Kemmerer, D. (2015). Cognitive Neuroscience of Language: An Introduction. New York: Psychology Press

Patterson, K., Nestor, P.J., & Rogers, T.T. (2007). Where do you know what you know? The representation of semantic knowledge in the human brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8(12), 976-987,

Hickok, G. S., & Poeppel, D. (2007). The cortical organization of speech processing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8(5), 393¿402.

Hickok, G. S. (2012). Computational neuroanatomy of speech production. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 13(2), 135¿145.

Matchin, W., & Hickok, G. (2020). The cortical organization of syntax. Cerebral Cortex, 30(3), 1481¿1498.

Mirman, D., & Thye, M. (2018). Uncovering the neuroanatomy of core language systems using lesion-symptom mapping. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(6), 455¿461.

Dehaene, S., Cohen, L., Morais, J., & Kolinsky, R. (2015). Illiterate to literate: behavioural and cerebral changes induced by reading acquisition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 234-244.

Xu, M., Baldauf, D., Chang, C. Q., Desimone, R., & Tan, L. H. (2017). Distinct distributed patterns of neural activity are associated with two languages in the bilingual brain. Science Advances, 3(7), e1603309.

Blanco-Elorrieta, E., Kastner, I., Emmorey, K. & Pylkkänen, L. (2018). Shared neural correlates for building phrases in signed and spoken language. Scientific Reports, 8, 5492.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Analytical thinking: analyse, synthesise, critically and methodically appraise thoughts to break down complex problems into manageable components.

Critical thinking: capability to evaluate information thoroughly; identifying assumptions, detecting false logic or reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement.

Independent research: conduct research and enquiry into relevant issues through research design

Written communications: communicate complex ideas and arguments in writing,
produce clear structured written work
Course organiserDr Thomas Bak
Tel: (0131 6)50 9861
Course secretaryMs Pilar Rodriguez Couceiro
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
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