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Language as Cognitive Psychological Concepts

Language Essay Example

June 29, 2022

Cognitive psychology is concerned with the inner workings of the human brain. It tries to explain the processes involved in gaining knowledge and its manipulation in the human brain. The process of gaining knowledge differs across individuals but the storage of the same information is universal across all human beings. The process of gaining, storing, and using the information, is called the cognitive process. An example of it can be the process of driving a car, when one is learning how to drive a car he/she is gaining the information that he/she will store and use later while driving the car on his/her own. There are several types of cognitive processes, such as attention, memory, perception, learning, and verbal mental pictures. They all are important in the process of gaining, storing and using information. Cognitive processes can even work without our consciousness and they have a considerable impact on how a person views the world around them.

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The cognitive processes in humans that allow them to form language are complex, sophisticated processes, and they are comprised of numerous layers. Language is unique to humans only and it can be expressed in various forms, physical, verbal or even visual expression. Language is especially complex to define due to the varying linguistics across the globe. There exist several beliefs on the link between language and thought, there are several beliefs concerning language, one thinks it is dependent on thought and the notion of thoughts are dependent on language and another believe that both language and thought are independent entities and are not related to each other at all. This is evidence that a great debate surrounds the idea of the connection between language and thought, especially the impact the language has on one’s language or the impact language has on a person’s thought. Despite there being such disparities it is evident that language systems and an individual’s thoughts are connected with cognitive psychology, which can be defined as the study of mental processes such as problem solving, memory, decision-making, perception, learning, and acquisition of information (Anderson, 2010). The paper is focused on explaining the language process and better understanding how language affects a person’s cognitive processes and functions.

Attention and Language

Attention is a crucial cognitive process that plays a great role in language acquisition, processing, and functions. It is somewhat similar to the cognitive process of perception. They are related to the fact that while one perceives a list or a series of say printed words, he/she has to pay attention to the said words to make sense of them. Linguistics is the study of natural languages and it is different from psychology. In spite of the difference, linguistics has played an important role in the development of the psychology of languages by providing the information necessary for the analysis and examination of languages. Linguistics provides the rules that govern the regularity and productivity of a natural language. Linguistics has established that there are three rules that require attention in language, which are syntactic, semantic and phonological. Syntactic rules can be explained as the rules that dictate the words and the inflection, semantics provide guidelines for the required meaning of sentences whereas phonological deals with sound and auditory rules. In the study of attention, scholars have continually asked the questions of whether a person processes objects one at a time or a large number simultaneously. They also are concerned with the question of how much visual information can a person takes in at one instance and what can a person does with the acquired information. These questions arose from the analysis of divided attention in human beings.

With attention being a subject of study for over twenty-five years, there exists numerous studies, explanations, and theories that surround the cognitive process. Attention is almost synonymous to consciousness. It is clearly displayed when a child is born and he/she is conscious. Even if he/she is not aware of it, he/she immediately starts to pay attention to sounds and their general surroundings. It is also evident that humans throughout their lifetime cannot do more than a task without being conscious about it. Attention, therefore, like consciousness can be referred to as a unitary function (Swain, 1995). Attention has been classified as multifaceted, citing examples to the unconscious movement of the eyes, which has been found to be satisfactory.

Visual and auditory kinds of attention differ in the way that the information is received in the cognitive state and it determines the response to the data received by the brain. There can be an overload of information in the case when there are too many tasks are processing, thus creating a bottleneck in the attention of the individual. In this case, it is important that the individual concentrates on his/her activity at a time. Visual and auditory kinds of attention require time and it can be tiring at the beginning to fully incorporate them into one’s cognitive domain. The process of incorporation requires time and discipline to learn how to allocate the necessary resources appropriately. Attention is also important in the process of learning a new language and advancing the knowledge of an already known language.

Perception and Language

Perception is the ability to be heart, see or become aware of a particular situation. It can also be defined as the ability of the brain to process and recognize stimulus of the sensory organs. Perception skill in an individual can, therefore, be defined as the organization and interpretation of sensation by an individual. Therefore when a person uses his/her auditory senses, he/she are basically hearing the sounds around interpreting it and storing the information in their short-term or their long-term memory. A person also interprets the various components of the language used such as the semantics and the syntax of the language. The interpretation is made using previously learnt the newly acquired knowledge of the language. Language and perception act is an incentive to the thinking patterns of humans. It is particularly evidenced by the tendency to interpret a sentence that has been said even if it is semantically wrong and is in the wrong syntax using pre-learnt rules of the language regarding the sounds and the sentence structure. An example can be made with a sentence that is grammatically wrong like “kicked the ball boy “. A person who has knowledge in the English language will understand the intended message in a sentence like “the boy kicked the ball”.

In addition to sentence structure, the individuals can perceive other nuances of speech such as tones, facial and body expressions that are used to relay the message they intend with their words. For example, if a person says “Great!” with a frown on their face, arms folded, rolling his/her eyes, and a sarcastic tone, it will be interpreted as being discontent and unhappy with the current situation. It is opposed to saying the same word with a smile on his/her face and a happy tone which will rightly be interpreted as being happy, excited and content with the current situation. There are those that oppose the relationship between language and perception by saying that there is absolutely no relationship. Despite their views on the issue, it is undoubtedly clear that perception, just like all the other cognitive processes, has a major role in the listening, interpretation and the comprehension of language in human beings.

Thinking and Language

Thinking can be defined as the process of responding to sensory perception to creat with response by the use of rational judgment or using ones thinking procedures and thoughts. There are different types of thinking, but we will focus on two, which are introverted and extroverted thinking. Introverted thinking is a kind of thinking involved in finding the right word to express an idea in a way that is clearly understood and having the distinctions that involve internal reasoning. Extroverted thinking, on the other hand, involves the planning and scheduling of the process of extraverted thinking. It is also involved in helping a person to organize his/her ideas using graphs and charts while simultaneously monitoring individuals and encouraging to work more efficiently by providing reasonable explanations for the decisions made. Thinking helps a person to follow logical steps, sequences, and organizations aimed at making a person be aware of missing things and they gives ones the ability to categorize aspects of human lives and enable to do whatever is necessary towards achieving his/her objectives (MacIntyre, 1994).

There are two aspects of thinking that should be taken into consideration within the process of thinking, which are verbal thinking and visual thinking. Verbal thinking involves the process of using speech, words, and symbols to transfer meaningful concepts that establish long-term semantic knowledge (Shah, 1996). Visual thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to perceive visual objects that are in ether three or two-dimensional constraints that extract and filter information. The information that is obtained by the eyes is then related to special positions that are then used to group the objects in their positions and their properties of shapes, colors, and texture. One must first separate sounds and letters from backgrounds of higher processing that allow high-level processing that in its turn allows the processing of the meaning of words with the aim of understanding so as to understand visual processing.

Verbal Mental Representations and Language

Language has been known to interact with both visual and spatial processes. Studies have been conducted to analyze the extent of the effects of language on the way the speakers conceptualize the world, in spite of the limitations of various languages in the description of certain things in the world. It is obvious that language has an impact on the cognizes’ view of the world and consequently affecting what the speech is mostly focused on and subsequently the linguistic categories that exert the force during the process of thought transformation into language. As a result of it, there are differences in language patterns across the world resulting in language-specific patters. To support this theory, there has been a study conducted to analyze the encoding of motion among English and Russian speakers. It showed that the speakers allocated their attention differently as they prepared to describe the events and the differences arose from the different ways as the two languages encode motion (Gernsbacher, 1991). Moreover, such differences were even evident among children as young as 3 to 4 years old.

Across all domains, it has been agreed that in spite of the fact that language does not lead to long-term changes in long-term mental representations, it has a powerful impact on the way momentarily computations of the brain by either modulating or exaggerating the representational power of the brain.

Conclusion

Language is processed in the Wernicke’s and Broca’s regions of the brain that are located in the left hemisphere of the brain. The Broca’s region is majorly responsible for the learning of language, while the Wernicke’s that is found in the Rear Left-Hemisphere of the brain is majorly responsible for the processing of language. Language is a complex process that involves, and is not limited to speech, body language and sign language for those with speech impairments. Almost all aspects of cognitive psychology such as problem-solving, decision-making, learning and others are all applicable where languages and language processing are involved. It makes possible for language and all the processes involved in languages to be explainable and studied using scientific psychological methods of cognitive psychology.

It then leads to the arising of questions related to the connection between language and thought and the level of dependency between them. The mind has the power to perceive even the smallest details without the consciousness or even the consent of the individual. It makes it possible for small children to observe and learn these details and incorporate them into their learning of language and how to speak. The process is still evident in adults, although at a less aggressive rate, since the groundwork of the language has already been laid in their formative years of life. Occasionally, details that are of interest to the brain may appear and are used by individuals for the advancement and enhancement of their minds. Language is provided for the avenue for learning and socialization with friends, family, and humanity at large. It also gave humanity an ability to express feeling of love, and dislike, the possibility of sharing and making of memories, and teaching of important and sometimes unimportant details of life. Without language, the world would be a void filled with stillness and eternal silence.

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