Lecture series continues Dec. 10

Our monthly lecture series continues Wednesday Dec. 10 at 5:00 pm, in the Linguistics Department Seminar Room (SBS S-207).  We are delighted to welcome Prof. John Drury from the Stony Brook’s Linguistics Department.

Music, Language, Math, and Visual Narrative:
In Search of Shared/Distinct Neurocognitive Mechanisms

John E. Drury[1]

(with N. Calma[2], D. Finer[1], J.F. Bailyn[1], N. Cohn[3], B. Slevc[4], L. Staum-Casasanto[5])

[1] Department of Linguistics, Stony Brook University
[2] Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University
[3] Institute for Neural Computation, University of California, San Diego
[4] Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
[5] Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago


Any short-list of what makes humans special in the biological world arguably must make reference to: (i) language, (ii) music, (iii) precise number and mathematics, and (iv) visual narrative (i.e., our ability to extract a story from sequences of images). Electrophysiological research has found superficially similar brain response profiles for analogous types of stimulus manipulations across these domains. Further, studies examining language and music together have offered data consistent with overlap of at least some of the underlying processing circuitry. Such cross-domain studies have made it clear that we have much to gain by examining systems like language and music together. However, a broader look at recent work examining language, music, and number/math reveals a number of conflicting findings and unresolved puzzles, with some data pointing to overlapping mechanisms and other data suggesting there are distinct mechanisms at work across these domains. In ongoing ERP studies we examine visual processing of comics, sentences, and number sequences with simultaneous auditory presentation of music (chord progressions) to investigate patterns of processing interference across these domains. In this talk I’ll present some preliminary data which already show considerable promise for efforts to identify/individuate brain response profiles with respect to whether they may index shared (domain general) versus distinct (domain specific) underlying mechanisms


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