Panelists: Steve Small, Angela Friederici
Chair: Nina Dronkers

Friday, August 29, 2:30 – 4:00 pm, Effectenbeurszaal

Steve Small  Angela Friederici

What counts as neurobiology of language – a debate

Obviously the study of the neurobiology of language is about the brain and about language. What is less clear, however, is how these two areas intersect. What do we mean when we say that our goal is to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie speaking and understanding language? Does it suffice to know where the processes of comprehension and production happen in the brain (fMRI) or when they happen (ERPs)? How exactly do we envision that the crucial aspects of language, such as sound, meaning, and syntax, will map onto the neural architecture of the human brain? Will the ultimate answer to these questions come from analyzing the firing patterns of individual neurons, measuring the joint contributions of neuronal populations, or perhaps from understanding the organization of large scale brain-wide networks? Do we need cognitive models of language in order to ask the relevant questions about the underlying neurobiology, or will our understanding of the cognitive organization emerge from our understanding of the brain? These and related issues form the core of the debate on what counts as the ‘true’ neurobiology of language.