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Cultural neurolinguistics

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0079-6123(09)17811-1
  • Cross-Cultural
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Language
  • Brain
  • Computer Science
  • Linguistics


Abstract As the only species that evolved to possess a language faculty, humans have been surprisingly generative in creating a diverse array of language systems. These systems vary in phonology, morphology, syntax, and written forms. Before the advent of modern brain-imaging techniques, little was known about how differences across languages are reflected in the brain. This chapter aims to provide an overview of an emerging area of research — cultural neurolinguistics — that examines systematic cross-cultural/crosslinguistic variations in the neural networks of languages. We first briefly describe general brain networks for written and spoken languages. We then discuss language-specific brain regions by highlighting differences in neural bases of different scripts (logographic vs. alphabetic scripts), orthographies (transparent vs. nontransparent orthographies), and tonality (tonal vs. atonal languages). We also discuss neural basis of second language and the role of native language experience in second-language acquisition. In the last section, we outline a general model that integrates culture and neural bases of language and discuss future directions of research in this area.

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