From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language / Edition 1

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Overview

In From Molecule to Metaphor, Jerome Feldman proposes a theory of language and thought that treats language not as an abstract symbol system but as a human biological ability that can be studied as a function of the brain, as vision and motor control are studied.
This theory, he writes, is a "bridging theory" that works from extensive knowledge at two ends of a causal chain to explicate the links between. Although the cognitive sciences are revealing much about how our brains produce language and thought, we do not yet know exactly how words are understood or have any methodology for finding out. Feldman develops his theory in computer simulations -- formal models that suggest ways that language and thought may be realized in the brain. Combining key findings and theories from biology, computer science, linguistics, and psychology, Feldman synthesizes a theory by exhibiting programs that demonstrate the required behavior while remaining consistent with the findings from all disciplines.

After presenting the essential results on language, learning, neural computation, the biology of neurons and neural circuits, and the mind/brain, Feldman introduces specific demonstrations and formal models of such topics as how children learn their first words, words for abstract and metaphorical concepts, understanding stories, and grammar (including "hot-button" issues surrounding the innateness of human grammar). With this accessible, comprehensive book Feldman offers readers who want to understand how our brains create thought and language a theory of language that is intuitively plausible and also consistent with existing scientific data at all levels.

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"An outstanding and exciting book on the relationship between purpose and reference,and essential reading for cognitive scientists interested in the naturalization of intentionality."—Vittorio Gallese, Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma

"In From Molecule to Metaphor, Jerome Feldman takes us on a fascinating tour through the mysteries of the human brain, revealing new and unexpected vistas. The ideas are deep, as should be expected from one of the pioneers in the field, but also lucidly presented for the nonspecialist reader." V.S. Ramachandran , Professor andDirector of the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego

"In his new book From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory ofLanguage (MIT Press, 2006), cognitive scientist Jerome Feldman constructs an objective,coherent account of language and thought in the broad context of cognitive science research and data in the 21st century. The book is a must read for those interested in interdisciplinary approaches to language and thought." Teenie Matlock , PhD, Founding Faculty & AssistantProfessor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Merced

"*Being No One* is essential reading for all scholars interested in the study of the self and of its distortions. In this thought-provoking book Metzinger presents an exciting new theory of phenomenal awareness, a theory that has the merit of being firmly grounded on a vast neuroscientific and psychopathological literature, which is here synthesized and made available to a wider audience for the first time."—Vittorio Gallese, Department of Neuroscience, University ofParma

Vittorio Gallese

An outstanding and exciting book on the relationship between purpose and reference,
and essential reading for cognitive scientists interested in the naturalization of intentionality.

V.S. Ramachandran

In From Molecule to Metaphor, Jerome Feldman takes us on a fascinating tour through the mysteries of the human brain, revealing new and unexpected vistas. The ideas are deep, as should be expected from one of the pioneers in the field, but also lucidly presented for the nonspecialist reader.

Teenie Matlock

In his new book From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of
Language
(MIT Press, 2006), cognitive scientist Jerome Feldman constructs an objective,
coherent account of language and thought in the broad context of cognitive science research and data in the 21st century. The book is a must read for those interested in interdisciplinary approaches to language and thought.

Steven L. Small

Feldman has a unique perspective on human computation at all levels, drawn from his dual lifelong experiences helping to create modern computer science and bringing deep computational ideas to the study of cognitive science. In this exciting new book, he shows why understanding the most complex computations of the human brain depends on taking account of the ontogeny and phylogeny of our species; and, by doing so, how it might be possible to build a truly embodied cognitive science.

George Lakoff

How can the brain, a highly structured biological and chemical mechanism, made up of neurons with axons, dendrites, and synapses and that functions via flowing ions and neurotransmitters -- how can the physical brain give rise to thought and language? Jerome Feldman,
my close colleague in unlocking this puzzle, has given us the first serious theory linking neurobiology to neural computation to cognitive linguistics. From Molecule to
Metaphor
is an indispensable book for anyone interested in how human beings think, act,
and communicate.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262062534
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/2/2006
  • Series: Bradford Books Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome A. Feldman is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and former Director of the Cognitive Science Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Research Scientist at the International Computer Science Institute.

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Table of Contents

1 The mystery of embodied language 3
2 The information processing perspective 15
3 Computational models 29
4 Neurons and other cells 43
5 The society of neurons 59
6 Nature and nurture 71
7 Connections in the mind 85
8 Embodied concepts and their words 95
9 The computational bridge 105
10 First words 125
11 Conceptual schemas and cultural frames 135
12 Learning spatial relation words 149
13 Embodied knowledge of actions 163
14 Learning action words 173
15 Conceptual systems 185
16 Metaphors and meaning 199
17 Understanding as simulation 213
18 The structure of action and events 227
19 Belief and inference 235
20 Understanding news stories 245
21 Combining forms - grammar 259
22 The language wars 271
23 Combining meaning - embodied construction grammar 283
24 Embodied language understanding 297
25 Learning constructions 311
26 Remaining mysteries 325
27 All together now 333
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