Course Title: CE 11. How Neurons Enable Language and Cognition


Credit Hours: 1.5


Instructor(s) Stephen E. Nadeau, MD


How Neurons Enable Language and Cognition

Abstract & Learning Objectives

One of our foremost challenges in understanding cognition is to relate it to the function of neural tissue: neurons, cortical micro-columns, synapses, and electrochemical physiology. Key to meeting this challenge is the recognition that neural representations corresponding to cognitive entities are population encoded: they reflect the pattern of activity of millions of neurons firing simultaneously. Parallel distributed processing (PDP) research (the science of population encoding) has been extensively validated empirically in studies of both normal and damaged brains and it has informed us of the constraints that the neurobiology of neural networks places upon cognitive function and its breakdown. In this seminar, language, the single cognitive function about which we know the most, is considered from a PDP perspective, supplemented by knowledge of neuroanatomy, neural systems, neurophysiology, and data from the fields of cognitive psychology, cognitive neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, and multilingual aphasia studies. The neural basis for phonology, noun and verb semantics, lexical semantics, grammatic morphology, phrase structure rules, and syntax are reviewed from this perspective.

Stephen E. Nadeau, MD

Stephen E. Nadeau, MD

Associate Chief of Staff for Research
Medical Director, Brain Rehabilitation Research Center
Malcom  Randall VA Medical Center
Professor of Neurology
University of Florida College of Medicine

Workshop participants will be able to:
1) describe how neurons, through population-encoded representations, can support cognition;
2) describe the neural network basis for the major components of language processing

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Speaker Biography

Stephen Nadeau was an undergraduate at MIT, completed medical school and residency in neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and trained in behavioral neurology with Kenneth Heilman. His major research interests include the neural basis of language function, with a particular focus on connectionist models; systems underlying attention and intention; neural mechanisms of depression; neuroplasticity; and neurorehabilitation of aphasia and paresis following stroke. He is the author of The Neural Architecture of Grammar (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012).