AuthorDonahoo, Stanley Alexander
AdvisorBever, Thomas G.
Lai, Vicky T.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 03/02/2024
AbstractA major goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand the neural basis of behaviours that are fundamental to human intelligence. To this aim, aspects of neurolinguistic research specifically probe one of these essential behaviours: The ability to integrate conceptual knowledge from semantic memory, allowing humans to construct an infinite number of complex concepts during behaviour from a limited set of relatively basic constituents in memory (e.g., the concepts black and dog can be combined to form a more complex representation, black dog). Here, I use a novel approach to studying integrative processing in semantic memory: applying electrophysiological methods to an understudied facet of language—expressives. The findings of this approach demonstrate that expressives cannot be represented by a bidimensional emotion framework of valence and arousal alone. Instead, they involve a social nature of tabooness, which affects their representation and processing. Further, expressives are not easily represented by a single semantic dimension of meaning, which has ramifications for how their representation is integrated within a larger linguistic context. This research has implications for semantic theory, language processing, brain organisation, and acquisition: it also may lead to novel therapeutic applications in people with lexical-semantic deficits.Overall, this research provides additional perspectives on the mental representations of language and organisation of the mental lexicon, with particular focus on understanding the role of human neurobiology in shaping the various components of our capacities that are involved in swearing. More broadly, these studies touch on our understanding of the influence of social meaning on the semantic-pragmatic boundary. Integrating both formal and social analysis into one cohesive model of communication represents a new frontier in language research, one which offers new insights on what meaning is, as complexly encoded in the human mind. Finally, given current evidence from clinical populations, a better understanding of this model in neuro-typical populations may one day facilitate new interventions in language rehabilitation. These results thus contribute a new data set for probing our understanding of the central properties of how language is processed in the brain.
Degree ProgramGraduate College