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David Poeppel, Ph.D.

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David Poeppel, Ph.D.

David Poeppel, Ph.D.

May 29 @ 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.


The Department of Cognitive Sciences will host guest speaker Dr. David Poeppel, a Professor in the Department of Psychology from the Ernst Struengmann Institute for Neuroscience & New York University.

Speech is special and language is structured

I discuss two (older but fun and straightforward) experiments that focus on general questions about the cognitive science and neural implementation of speech and language. I come to (currently) unpopular conclusions about both domains. Based on a first set of experiments, using fMRI and exploiting the temporal statistics of speech, I argue for the existence of a speech-specific processing stage that implicates a particularneuronal substrate that has the appropriate sensitivity and selectivity for speech. Based on a second set of experiments, using MEG, I outline neural mechanisms that can form the basis for more abstract, structural processing. The results demonstrate that, during listening to connected speech, cortical activity at different time scales is entrained concurrently to track the time course of linguistic structures at different hierarchical levels. The results demonstrate constituent-driven, internal construction of hierarchical linguistic structure via entrainment of hierarchical cortical dynamics. The conclusions — that speech is special and language structure-driven — provide (by now old) neurobiological provocations to the prevailing view that speech perception is ‘mere’ hearing and that language comprehension is ‘mere’ statistics.


May 29
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm