PSYCH189 Honors Seminar (for 120A): Language & Thought

Academic Year 2016/2017

Seminar description
This course will consist of in-class discussion of primary literature, specifically research articles, tackling the question of whether (natural) language influences the way we think. As part of this survey, we will read studies addressing the question in healthy volunteers, developmental populations, brain injury, cross-cultural comparisons, as well as non-human animal models.

Reading list:
Topic #1: Ontological categories
1.    Soja, N. N., Carey, S., & Spelke, E. S. (1991). Ontological categories guide young children’s inductions of word meaning: Object terms and substance terms. Cognition, 38(2), 179-211.
2.    Imai, M., & Gentner, D. (1997). A cross-linguistic study of early word meaning: Universal ontology and linguistic influence. Cognition, 62(2), 169-200.
3.    Li, P., Dunham, Y., & Carey, S. (2009). Of substance: The nature of language effects on entity construal. Cognitive psychology, 58(4), 487-524.

Topic #2: Number Cognition
1.    Pica, P., Lemer, C., Izard, V., & Dehaene, S. (2004). Exact and approximate arithmetic in an Amazonian indigene group. Science, 306(5695), 499-503.
2.    Varley, R. A., Klessinger, N. J., Romanowski, C. A., & Siegal, M. (2005). Agrammatic but numerate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(9), 3519-3524.
3.    Brannon, E. M., & Terrace, H. S. (1998). Ordering of the numerosities 1 to 9 by monkeys. Science, 282(5389), 746-749.

Topic #3:  Theory of Mind
1.    Hale, C. M., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2003). The influence of language on theory of mind: A training study. Developmental science, 6(3), 346-359.
2.    Apperly, I. A., Samson, D., Carroll, N., Hussain, S., & Humphreys, G. (2006). Intact first-and second-order false belief reasoning in a patient with severely impaired grammar. Social Neuroscience, 1(3-4), 334-348.
3.    Dally, J. M., Emery, N. J., & Clayton, N. S. (2006). Food-caching western scrub-jays keep track of who was watching when. Science, 312(5780), 1662-1665.

Grading Structure
Grade will be determined on the basis of 3 components:
(i)    In-class discussion and participation (40%)
(ii)    Paper presentation (on a rotation schedule) (20%)
(iii)    Term paper (40%)