The brain is the organ of knowledge and organizer of our abilities, our means of recognizing a face in a crowd, of conversing about anything we experience or imagine, of forming thoughts and developing ideas, of instantly understanding words coming rapidly in conversation. How does it manage all this? Does it represent information in symbols or in the connectivity of a vast network?Pathways of the Brain builds a theory to answer such questions. Using a top-down modeling strategy, it charts relationships among words and other products of the brain's linguistic system to reveal properties of that system. Going beyond earlier linguistics, it sets three plausibility requirements for a valid neurocognitive theory: operational, developmental, and neurological: It must show how the linguistic system can operate for speaking and understanding, how it can be learned by children, and how it is implemented in neural structures. Unlike theories that leave linguistics isolated from science, it builds a bridge to biology.
Of interest to anthropologists, linguists, neurologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists, and any thoughtful person interested in language or the brain.
The author is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences.