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Saturday, April 17, 2010


Neurolinguistics: Language and The brain

Research Proposal undertaken by:
Adnen Mansouri
Topic of the research1:
Nowadays, Science of the human brain has progressed to the extend that it studied many important issues which have been for a long time a mystery and something absurd.
Scientists and Experts in the field allocated many years of research for the exploration of the relationship between the human brain and language processing.
Neurolinguistics is a science which is concerned with the brain functions as they pertain to language behaviour, and the neural mechanisms underlying the comprehension, production and abstract knowledge of the language and the way language is spoken and written.
Topic of the research2:
Some people suffer from problems either due to an accident that affected their mental and cognitive ability to process language, or due to an innate syndrome affecting the anatomical composition of their brain.
Those people suffering from brain damage or deficit are called APHASICS i.e. they suffer from total or partial damage of the brain capacities. Despite the fact that their ability to process information is not perfect, this faculty is really interesting and need to be explored.
This field is an intersection of different and varied disciplines such as Neurology, Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Educational Psychology and other disciplines.
Fall of the research1:

There is much relevant literature that expresses the need for focused and deep research on this domain.
“An important challenge for coming years will be to find whether the brain areas that are implicated in language studies turn out to have distinctive properties at the neuronal level that allow them to explain the special properties of human language.” Language and the brain, Philips & Sakai (2005), pp.169
Many TV documentaries treat the subject of mental aphasics frequently. They investigate the problems which affect the human brain engendering a language disorder.
Fall of the research2:
The appearance of new types of Neuro-problems related to language processing affecting a great number of people in the world.
Many Experimental and Educational Psycholinguists and Neurologists undertook varied researches and experiments on the domain of Neurolinguistics and brain-mind relationship and claimed that deficits at the level of the brain-language connection can be due to varied reasons, therefore, they explain the growing need for exploration on this field.
Statement of the Problem:
Does language acquisition depend heavily on the wellformedness of the human brain?
Statement of the Sub-Problems:
How brain damage can be responsible for human disorder?
How aphasics process language?
What problems do they face when they come to deal with language input and output?
Are aphasic patients able to reach a developed stage in learning a language?
Statement of the hypotheses:
Hypothesis: Language acquisition depends on a good functioning of the human brain.
Language acquisition increases by a good functioning of the brain.
Language acquisition decreases even by a good functioning of the brain.
Language acquisition is not affected by the functioning of the brain.
Delimitation of the research:
This research will be limited to the problems of aphasics when they come to process their mother tongue, whereas second or foreign languages fall outside the realm of this study.
Significance of the research:
Brain-language relationship is so complicated and research on this field started 150 years ago, so it is worth studying this domain deeply due to the constant need for reliable explanations.
This study will just attempt to give an idea about the internal parts of the human brain which disable aphasics from well processing information, and it will focus on how language disorder manifests itself morphologically and phonologically.
This research may add an idea about the neural, psychological and language relationship of complementarities.
There is a possibility of finding a path for a remedy for Tunisian Arabic Aphasics.

Literature overview:
This part is based on many chapters taken from various books of Psychology and Cognitive Neurology.
Psycholinguists and Neuroscientists relied on many techniques to collect reliable data about the brain and the internal parts related to language functions.
The collection of information about the location of language faculties in the brain is just the beginning of the investigation uncovering the specific properties of the brain regions responsible for language processing.
Classic and Modern Aphasiology are two different views describing the anatomy of damaged brains and their relation with language.
Here are some commentaries:
The first thing, I will begin essentially by the collection of data from different sources; our library, some books and articles borrowed from our teachers and friends, and of course the internet.
I will rely on one or two doctors specialising in the domain of Neurology.
I contacted a Technician specialised in the same field who accepted to grant me access to make observations on a real case of brain damaged patients during their treatment. I should emphasise that this will be in a private clinic with the agreement of all parties. These observations will offer me a bulk of quantitative data which I will carefully analyse it later on to discover the intricacies of brain-language relationship.
I think the reliance on specialists is very beneficial for my research as I can formulate a concrete and reliable idea about the domain and its implications.
Unfortunately, I can’t rely on a scientific laboratory for more reliable and proved findings because this is not possible in our country due to the lack of equipments and available laboratories.
I have previous scientific background as I got a Baccalaureate in Experimental Sciences, and since that time I feel interested in this field of research.
I formulated a good idea about this domain and I feel that I have the capacity and ability to understand it and present something quite good and interesting.
I know good techniques which may help me to undertake an online search for valuable and reliable data.
My parent works in a private clinic and he can manage to grant me access to some aphasic patients. (with the permission of the administrators and the patients themselves.)
Schedule for completion:
From 1st September 2009 to 30 September 2010.
First 3 months: collection of the necessary data.
Next 3 months: I will prepare the chapter of “literature review”.
By the end of February, I start dealing with the case study for about 3 months, and I would be writing its commentary part.
Now I have 4 months left, 3 of which would be for the completion of the whole research thesis whereas the remaining month would be for the verification, correction, preparation of the final draft, and organising my presentation and speech.
Finally, we should not forget the crucial role of the supervisor in the accomplishment of the research; his or her coordination would be of great importance. So, I will be in touch with my supervisor on a regular basis to get the necessary hints and guidance.
Language Acquisition, Online books, journals for academic research, plus bibliography tools.
Language Disorders, Answers to your questions on ADHD, Learning & Communication Disorders.
Language and the brain, McGraw-Hill Yearbook, Philips & Sakai (2005), pp. 166-169.
Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey, Language: Psychological and Biological Aspects Frederick J.Newmeyer (1988), Cambridge University Press; Chapter8: Neurolinguistics: an overview of language-brain relations in aphasia, Sheila E. Blumstein, pp. 210-236, Chapter9: The biological basis for language, David Copland, pp. 237-255.
Psycholinguistics, Michael Garman (1990), Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics.
Language change: Progress or Decay? Jean Atchison (1991), 2nd edition, Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics, Part4: Beginnings and endings; Chapter12: Development and breakdown, pp. 165-179.
The internet.

Please if you have any comments, recommendations or questions, I am ready to hear you..!!!!

Adnen Mansouri

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