[SydPhil] Fwd: Cognitive Science/PARC Public Lecture, 6 Nov - Daniel Bub on action & language

John Sutton john.sutton at mq.edu.au
Thu Jul 31 17:48:38 AEST 2014

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robin Blumfield <robin.blumfield at mq.edu.au>
Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:05 AM

*CCD/Cognitive Science/PARC Public Lecture Thursday 6 November 2014,
2.00-.3.30 pm with light refreshments from 3.30 pm Level 1 Lecture Theatre,
Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie UniversityProfessor Daniel BubDepartment
of Psychology, University of Victoria*

*Title: *
Our intelligent hands: The role of action in language comprehension

In the 19th century, an influential claim about language was that the
meaning of words referring to objects - an example used by Wernicke
(1848-1905) and Charcot (1825-1893) was the word “bell” -  is entirely
based on stored traces of our sensory and motor experience.  According to
this view, we understand the meaning of “bell” by contacting memories of
what the object looked like, the sound of a bell, how it felt (if we have
had a chance to touch or use one), how much a typical bell weighs when we
lift it, and so on.  The combined sensory and motor memories of all our
experiences with the physical object constitute the meaning of the word.
 Although modern linguistic theories have moved well beyond this early
view, new evidence has emerged that appears consistent with the classical
approach to word meaning.  I will discuss and critique this rebirth of an
old theoretical claim, with particular emphasis on the possible role of
hand actions in understanding words and sentences that refer to graspable
objects like cellphone, pencil or spray-can.  Such words, alone or in a
sentence like “John lifted the cellphone to clear a space on the shelf”
do indeed automatically evoke interesting patterns of activity in the motor
system.  Does this evidence necessarily imply, though, that object concepts
are grounded in sensory-motor experience?  I will provide an alternative
explanation, based on a theory of how planned actions are organized in the
brain, and how language communicates with components of the motor system.

For further information please see the attached flyer or go to:

To register, please see:

Kind regards
Robin Blumfield
Executive Assistant
to the Director of the ARC CoE in Cognition and its Disorders

Ph: +61 (0)2 9850 4127
Fax: +61 (0)2 9850 6067
robin.blumfield at mq.edu.au
CRICOS Provider No 00002J

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Professor John Sutton
Deputy Head, Department of Cognitive Science
Macquarie University, Sydney,
NSW 2109, Australia
Phone: +61 (0)2 9850 4132
Email: john.sutton at mq.edu.au
URL: http://www.johnsutton.net/
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