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Gary Lupyan, 4:00pm Tuesday February 4th


Gary Lupyan

 University of Wisconsin, Madison

    Tuesday, February 4th
    Swift 107
    4:00pm (Reception to follow)

What are we learning from language?

Like other animals, humans learn from interacting with the natural world. Unlike other animals, humans also learn from language — a source of information that is grounded in, but quite distinct from the natural world. What might we be learning from language, and how is the information embedded in language different from what is embedded in nonlinguistic experiences? I will present a range of evidence from behavioral experiments that show how language impacts human performance on a variety of "nonverbal" tasks, from low-level perception to higher-level reasoning.

Taken together, the results suggest that some of the unique aspects of human cognition may stem from our exposure to language and from the way verbal labels transform mental representations into more categorical states. These findings help us to better understand the cognitive consequences of language impairments, and the language-cognition interface more generally.