Explorations about language and mind
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The relevance that cognitive linguistics has reached in the last decades has triggered our interest in the field mainly due to its pioneering approach to the study of language. This theory is commonly contrasted with the previous dominant tendency, namely, generativism as it overlooks notions concerning the human brain. It has been asserted that the brain has unique areas related to language, which work separately from other functions of the brain. Cognitive theory, on the other hand, argues for general processes that make language development possible. Besides, it also places special emphasis on the individuals’ environment since it regards language knowledge as dependent on its use. Worth mentioning here is the contribution of the development of new techniques for studying brain functioning. Thus, new insights on the processing and production of language are now available to us with the use of brain scans, performed with the Positron Emission Tomography, better known as PET scans, and the functional magnetic resonance, also known as fMRI, which are techniques that allow us in certain cases to observe brain activity at the very same time that the subject is realizing a linguistic or any other task. This was the main motivation our group had to investigate the relationship between mind and language, in general, and brain – being the substrate on which mental representations and operations lie – and foreign language acquisition, in particular, based on the different data that cognitive science, psycholinguistic, neurolinguistic, and neuroscience studies have provided us until today. We are convinced that this area can make enormous contributions to the study of language as it considers environmental constraints as a critical aspect of language acquisition.