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Amberg, J. S. and Vause, J.D. (2009). American
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As we can see from
the evidence collected from the cases of Denyse, who was a skilled speaker,
despite the fact that she couldn’t even grasp reality we can conclude that the
brain indeed contains a specific module for each function. But the cases of the
aphasia sufferers, Mr. Gorgan, who was suffering from Werncike’s aphasia and
had difficulty using vocabulary items while he could use grammatical structures
and Mr. Ford, who was suffering from Broca’s aphasia could use vocabulary items
and but he had difficulty in using grammatical structures clearly showcase that
a specific sub-module of the module of the brain that controls language is
damaged, there is difficulty in different linguistic functions, while other
linguistic functions remain intact, so the brain is massively modular including
not only a module for functions such as language but also contains different
modules for each function. If this wasn’t the case the linguistic capacity on
sufferers of aphasia would be completely lost no matter what area of the brain
was left intact or was damaged. Finally, we can conclude that the study of the
language capacity and linguistic impairments mind is massively modular and a
specific module for language exists in the brain as an evolutionary trait.
Also, there is conduction aphasia that occurs
after damage in the nerves called arcuate fasciculus those connect Wenricke’s
area with Brocca’s area and the person uses distorted intonations and
mispronounced words, as George Yule writes in his book The Study of Language ‘with
forms such as vaysse and fosh being reported as attempted repetitions of the
words “base” and “wash.” What the speaker hears and understands can’t be
transferred very successfully to the speech production area.’ (Yule, 2010).
. There is also Brocca’s aphasia, where while the person has
the capability to understand and put in use vocabulary items, they are
incapable of using grammatic structure. A sufferer of Broca’s aphasia was
interviewed by Howard Gardner. He was a former Coast Guard radio operator who
suffered a stroke that aparrently damaged his Broca’s area of the brain causing
him Broca’s aphasia. ‘I am a sig…no…man…uh, well, …again.’ These words were
emitted slowly, and with great effort. The sounds were not clearly articulated;
each syllable as uttered harshly, explosively, in a throaty voice. With
practice, it was possible to understand him, but at first I encountered
considerable difficulty in this. ‘Let me help you,’ I interjected. ‘You were a
signal…’ ‘A sig-nal man…right,’ Ford completed my phrase triumphantly. ‘Were
you in the Coast Guard?’ ‘No, er, yes, yes, …ship…Massachu…chusetts…Coastguard
…years.’ He raised his hands twice, indicating the number nineteen. ‘Oh, you
were in the Coast Guard for nineteen years.’ ‘Oh…boy…right…right,’ he replied.
‘Why are you in the hospital, Mr. Ford?’ Ford looked at me strangely, as if to
say, Isn’t it patently obvious? He pointed to his paralyzed arm and said, ‘Arm
no good,’ then to his mouth and said, ‘Speech…can’t say…talk, you see.’ (Gardner,
1974). As it can be seen in the passage above, the patient had difficulty in
using grammatical structures but showed no difficulty in naming and identifying
objects and performing functions unrelated to language such as blowing a candle.
The cases of linguistic impairments prove the
theory of massive modularity of mind, which suggests that the mind contains
modules for every human function and submodules contained in each of the
module. Specific Linguistic Impairments (SLI) are difficulties in the use and
perception of language. Aphasia is a linguistic impairment, where after a
damage in the left hemisphere of the brain, usually a stroke, there is
difficulty in the perception and use of particular linguistic aspects, according
to specific locations of the left side of the brain those were damaged.
Wenricke’s Aphasia occurs when the Wenricke’s area of the brain is damaged and
while the ability to understand and use grammar remains the person is deemed
incapable of comprehending and using vocabulary items, resulting to the person,
producing correct grammatical sentences with words those most of the times
don’t make sense. The neuropsychologist Howard Gardner had an interview with a
72 years old retired butcher Mr. Gorgan who had suffered damage in the
Wernicke’s area of the brain. The patient was using correct grammatical structures
using words those didn’t make any sense ‘Boy, I’m sweating, I’m awful nervous,
you know, once in a while I get caught up, I can’t get caught up, I can’t
mention the tarripoi, a month ago, quite a little, I’ve done a lot well, I
impose a lot, while, on the other hand, you know what I mean, I have to run
around, look it over, trebbin and all that sort of stuff. Oh sure, go ahead,
any old think you want. If I could I would. Oh, I’m taking the word the wrong
way to say, all of the barbers here whenever they stop you it’s going around
and around, if you know what I mean, that is tying and tying for repucer,
repuceration, well, we were trying the best that we could while another time it
was with the beds over there the same thing…’ (Gardner, 1974).
The mind is modular because we can see that
even children with severe mental conditions such as hydrocephalism were still
able to acquire their mother tongue, while they weren’t able to perform other
basic functions, which means that other modules of the brain were damaged, while
the linguistic module of the brain was left intact. An excellent example is the
case of a fourteen years old girl called Denyse, who was suffering from spina
bifita, a condition which leaves the spinal cord exposed and most of the times
results in increase in pressure in the celebrospinal fluid that fills the
vetricles of the brain and results in hydrocephalus. Denyse was interviewed by
the psycholinguist Richard Cromer, who identified her as a fluent English
speaker with a refined British accent, but she was discussing about a bank
account she was sharing with her boyfriend and narrated in great detail a trip
with a boy named Danny in Scotland and the reunion with her long-lost father.
None of these was true though, Denyse never had a boyfriend or bank account nor
she had ever been in Scotland with a boy named Danny and her father had never
actually left (Pinker, 2007). Apparently, Denyse couldn’t grasp reality but she
could make an optimal use of language to describe those made up stories, this
evidence indicates that the module of the brain responsible for grasping
reality was damaged by the celebrospinal fluid while the Wernicke’s area,
Brocca’s area and Fasiculus arcue of her brain, where the module for language
is presumably located, were left intact by the fluid. If the brain wasn’t modular, Denyse wouldn’t
possess such sophisticated linguistic skills or maybe she wouldn’t be able to
acquire language at all.
The module of the
brain responsible for language is composed of the Wernicke’s area, which is
responsible for grammar, the Brocca’s area, which is responsible for vocabulary
and the Fasiculus arcue, which are nerves connecting Brocca’s area with
Wernicke’s area allowing the conduction of sentences. This is proven by the
fact that all human children acquire the language by the age of 6, despite
their IQ level, mental health or talents and without needing much input or
effort. Another proof for the innateness of the human linguistic capacity is
that the organs for vital functions. Also, according to the theory of the
massive modularity of mind, every capacity and function humans has a module
with multiple submodules in the brain and so does the language capacity and
behavioristic doctrines suggested that humans are born tabula rasa, meaning
that they have no innate knowledge like an empty blackboard and knowledge is
inscribed in their brain as they interact with the world and inscribe knowledge
on the brain, meaning to learn and they
also suggested that the brain consists only of a domain general processor and
there is no architecture on the brain. This view however was challenged in the
early 1950 by Noam Chomsky, who suggested that the capacity of the acquisition
of native language is an innate capacity in the form of a universal grammar,
meaning an innate capacity to extract the set of rules and constraints of the
mother tongue from the environment. Chomsky also argued that children learn
their mother tongue correctly, despite receiving incorrect and incomplete input
from their environment (Chomsky in Pinker,2007) To prove his hypothesis early
1980 by the cognitive psychologist Jerry Fodor and proposed that the mind has
an internal architecture as a domain-general processor including modules for the IQ, a module for senses,
a linguistic module and a module for face recognision. Jerry Fodor also
characterized modules as domain specific, meaning to respond to a specific
input, encapsulate information, meaning
that they operate independently from other psychological systems, obligatory
firing, meaning that they work in an obligatory manner, each of them produces
shallow outputs, meaning that their outputs are very simple, the access to the
modules I very limited, they have a characteristic ontogeny, meaning that there
is regularity in their development and the modules have a fixed neural architecture.
The theory closer to the truth though, is the massive modularity theory that
surfaced in the mid ’90 by Carruthers and suggested that the mind is composed of
modules those include a number of submodules.
The human language is a system of codified sound messages used
among humans for the purpose of communication, meaning to convey thoughts,
emotions and ideas, with structured and convetional rules and regulations
(Amberg and Vause,2010). The capacity to learn and use the native language is
an innate evolutionary trait that is actually encapsulated as a module, meaning
an innate neural structure in the brain responsible for a particular action,
and in the case of language , the language module . For many years there has
been a debate on wether the mind is modular or not and the study of the nature of
human language and impairments of the language has proved multiple times that
the mind is modular and contains a module for language.