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Language and Cognition: Joint Acquisition and Role in Thinking (pp. 155-176) $100.00
Authors:  (Leonid Perlovsky, Harvard University and Air Force Research Laboratory)
Abstract:
What is the role of language and cognition in thinking? Is language just a
communication device, or is it fundamental in developing thoughts? Chomsky suggested
that language is separate from cognition. Cognitive linguistics emphasizes a single
mechanism of both. Neither led to a computational theory. Here we develop a hypothesis
that language and cognition are two separate but closely interconnected mechanisms; the
role of each is identified. Language stores cultural wisdom; cognition develops mental
representations modeling surrounding world and adapts cultural knowledge to concrete
circumstances of life. Language is acquired from surrounding language ‘ready-made’ and
therefore can be acquired early in life. This early acquisition of language by five years of
age encompasses the entire hierarchy from sounds to words, to phrases, to highest
concepts existing in culture. Cognition requires experience. The paper presents arguments
why cognition can not be acquired directly from experience; language is a necessary
intermediary, a “teacher.” A mathematical model is developed that overcomes previous
difficulties towards a computational theory. This model implies a specific neural
mechanism consistent with Arbib’s “language prewired brain;” it also models recent
neuroimaging data about cognition, remaining unnoticed by other theories. The suggested
theory explains a number of properties of language and cognition, which previously
seemed mysterious. 


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Language and Cognition: Joint Acquisition and Role in Thinking (pp. 155-176)