Monday, 22 September 2008

Points of Interest 22. September, 2008

1. Listeneres can only keep up with the rapid rate of speech (5 syllables/second) because they anticipate the missing possible syllables of the word. A new study conducted by scientists of the University of Rochester and Georgia Tech showed that this is not only true for the phonology but also the semantics of words: Scientists watch as listener's brain predicts speaker's words & Neural correlates of partial lexical activation

2. At age 3–4, the overwhelming majority of children behave selfishly, whereas most children at age 7–8 prefer resource allocations that remove advantageous or disadvantageous inequality: Egalitarianism in young children

3. The evolution of speech. Speech recognition part in macaques found: Monkey Brains Hint at Evolutionary Root of Language Processing

4. World largest semantic map revealed. First steps toward Semantic Web? Computers figuring out what words mean

5. The right word is in our jaw: Speaking Without Sound & Breakthrough in understanding of speech offers hope to the deaf

6. Stuttering causes bilingualism: Does bilingualism cause stuttering?

7. Neuroaesthetics? Beauty & the Brain and Beauty and the Brain

8. Save humanity. But first I want more funds for computational linguistics: Funding the Mitigation of Extinction Risks and How can we reduce the risk of human extinction?

9. Humans - The best race there is and ever was on earth? Stop kidding me, Lystrosaurus dominated more: Technologies to Watch Out For: Self-Copying

10. The geometric bucket a systematical view: A simple toy, and what it says about how we learn to mentally rotate objects

11. Oh my arse: The Evolution of Assholes

12. The seven gates to humanity: What I've Learned About Human Origins

13. I like the picture of possible paths for human evolution: Mark Stoneking’s Four Models Of Human Origins

14. About rhymes in Japanese Hip Hop and what they reveal about the language: I'll experiment like a scientist/ You wanna rhyme, you gotta sign my list

15. “Thinking about Not-Thinking”: Neural Correlates of Conceptual Processing during Zen Meditation

16. Suicidal Individuals: Evaluation, Therapies, and Ethics – Part 1 & Part 2

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Points of Interest 17. September, 2008

I got a bit picky about the Points of Interest I choose these days; so less is more. A problem which occured while writing this and which is bothering me: What's the difference between:

a) It is not
b) It isn't
c) It's not

I think the first is the most emphasised because there is no contraction at all. The second emphasises the subject - due to the contraction of "is not" the stress shifts to "It". The third emphasises the negation because the stress lies on "not". Language Hat had a post about this in 2005.

1. [...] findings suggest that New Caledonian crows can solve complex physical problems by reasoning both causally and analogically about causal relations: Do New Caledonian crows solve physical problems through causal reasoning?

Alex Taylor explains the experiment:

2. Pro Transhumanism. It's not a matter of philosophy - It's a matter of time: Transhumanism as Universal

3. About the temperature of excluding metaphors: Social exclusion literally feels cold

4. Pulvermuller's vs. Wernicke-Lichtheim's functional anatomy of language: Pulvermuller = Wernicke-Lichtheim

Monday, 15 September 2008

Points of Interest 15. September, 2008

1. An interesting article about the neurobiology of a hallucination based on Ffytche, D. (2008). The hodology of hallucinations. Cortex 44: 1067-1083. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2008.04.005:

"In the EEG experiments, the activity recorded from two of the electrodes was found to become sychronous whilst the subjects were hallucinating. [...] Ffytche hypothesizes that the changes in connectivity could be due to changes in the firing mode of the thalamo-cortical connections [...] Overall, Fytche's findings suggest that hallucination cannot be explained by a topological or hodological explanation alone, but instead by a combination of the two. [...]"

2. Gestalt meets linguistic relativism: What Bolles have learned about language.

3. "[...] some so-far anonymous computational linguist caused United Airlines to lose more than a billion dollars of its market capitalization, over the course of about 12 minutes last Monday: Economic linguistics

4. Who carried out 9/11? Views Differ...

5. From E-Paper to Semantic Web. What kind of technologies could we expect in 2018? Nature asks: What will happen in the next 10 years?

Thursday, 4 September 2008

One word != one number

Earlier this year a study was conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and University College London - namely Brian Butterworth, Robert Reeve, Fiona Reynolds and Delyth Lloyd. Children of two indigenous communities were tested for their numeracy skills; one from Tanami Desert and the other from Groote Eylandt. Another group were indigenous preschool children from Melbourne. Here's a map of the locations:

Free Image Hosting at

The results showed clearly that the children of indegenious communities - who have no words or even gestures for numbers - have numeracy skills equal to native English speaking children. So numeracy is not based on culture or language but probably an innate facility.

  • Butterworth, B., Reeve, R. (Forthcoming). Verbal counting and spatial strategies in numerical tasks: Evidence from indigenous Australia. Philosophical Psychology
  • Butterworth, B., Reeve, R., Reynolds, F., Lloyd, D. (Forthcoming). Numerical thought with and without words: Evidence from indigenous Australian children. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the USA