Weiskrantz, Lawrence, editor
Thought Without Language
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988
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Cover Presentation   Contents
Does thought depend crucially on language, as some philosophers maintain, or can abstract reasoning and related capacities exist in the absence of language? This volume, based on a Fyssen Foundation symposium held in Versailles in April 1987, addresses this question in a new way, bringing together for the first time three different groups of experts who usually view it from different angles. From studies of the cognitive capacities of pre-linguistic human infants, of the 'silent' right cerebral hemisphere in human adults, and of animals, including birds, rodents, dogs, and primates, there emerges an impressive body of material that sheds new light on the question. Topics covered include the ability of young pre-linguistic infants to perceived causation and to make inferences concerning the structure of the perceived world, the reasoning ability of patients with severe language problems caused by brain damage to the left hemisphere, the skills that animals and infants show in combining separate items of spatial knowledge into an integrated spatial map, the capacity of chimpanzees to add unequal arithmetic fractions, the forming of perceptual categories by infants and what might be a contrasting approach by pigeons, evidence for a variety of types of cognition without conscious awareness in human patients, and what may be homologous processes in animals.
Contents  top

List of participants

Introduction: Three sides of a coin

Section A: Emergence and instruction

Section B: Categorical perception Section C: The ontogeny of perceptual and causal knowledge Section D: Implicit processing and intentionality Section E: Shapes, space, and memory Section F: Verbal/non-verbal interaction and independence Section G: Dyslexia and a mathematician's experience Afterthoughts

Author index
Subject index

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Chapter Abstracts

Butterworth, George and Lesley Grover. The origins of referential communication in human infancy. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 5-24.

Abstract: (from the chapter) classical theories of the relation between language and thought in human development: Piaget and Vygotsky... joint visual attention and referential communication... joint visual attention and manual pointing.

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Mounoud, Pierre. The ontogenesis of different types of thought: Language and motor behaviours as non-specific manifestations. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 25-45.

Abstract: (from the chapter) attempt to show that the first stages of language development are not different from those of the development of thought, contrary to Vygotsky's opinion... demonstrate that the same is true for later stages of development... examples from infancy; development of reaching behaviour; early speech production... examples from childhood; word segmentation and learning to read; the construction of tools.

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Premack, David. Minds with and without language. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 46-65.

Abstract: (from the chapter) in this chapter, I will concentrate on two of the possible comparisons that one can make between creatures with and without language... I shall compare chimpanzees and young children, and also chimpanzees that have and have not been taught artificial language... overlapping vs concentric circles... effect of language training.

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Young, Andrew W. Functional organization of visual recognition. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 78-107.

Abstract: (from the chapter) discuss some of the things we have learnt about the functional organization of visual recognition from studies of brain-injured patients and studies of normal subjects... concentrate mostly on face recognition, and make comparisons between face, word, and object recognition... dissociable impairments of visual recognition... cerebral hemisphere differences... automatic aspects of recognition... recognition and awareness.

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Sergent, Justine. Face perception and the right hemisphere. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 108-131.

Abstract: (from the chapter) processes underlying face perception... spatial frequency composition of facial representations... experimental factors contributing to the emergence of a right-hemisphere-dominant involvement in processing faces in lateral tachistoscopic studies with normal subjects... contribution of the right hemisphere to the processing of faces; research on normal subjects; research on brain-damaged patients.

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Pearce, John M. Stimulus generalization and the acquisition of categories by pigeons. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 132-155.

Abstract: (from the chapter) the behaviour of animals ...can be controlled not just by a specific stimulus but by a collection of stimuli that belong to a category; main purpose ...is to examine the processes responsible for this control... do animals acquire prototypes... a stimulus generalization model for category learning... two experimental tests of the model... configural basis of category learning; relational basis of category learning.

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Spelke, Elizabeth S. The origins of physical knowledge. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 168-184.

Abstract: (from the chapter) our evidence suggests ...that infants do not perceive the unity, boundaries, and persistence of objects under all the conditions that are effective for adults; this chapter will review some of the research that has led to this suggestion, and then it will attempt to characterize the infant's physical theory and its role in apprehending objects... consider some of the ways in which the infant's theory might be changed by the acquisition of further physical knowledge, with and without benefit of language... the information for object unity... apprehending objects by touch... inferring the behaviour of hidden objects... object perception and the object concept... language and conceptual development.

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Leslie, Alan M. The necessity of illusion: Perception and thought in infancy. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 185-210.

Abstract: (from the chapter) discuss three examples of the way in which events are understood early in development... infants perceive a specifically causal property of a simple event; infants show a thoughtful reaction to a more complex causal situation; full-blown counterfactual causal reasoning is involved at the start of childhood... causal inference and metarepresentation.

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Cohen, Leslie B. An information-processing approach to infant cognitive development. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 211-228.

Abstract: (from the chapter) discover the ways ...(infants') capabilities change as infants become older and more sophisticated... illustrate that additional valuable information about infant development can be obtained from an examination of adult human and animal literatures (as well as extensive examination of human infants at several different ages).

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Schacter, Daniel, Mary Pat McAndrews, and Morris Moscovitch. Access to consciousness: Dissociations between implicit and explicit knowledge in neuropsychological syndromes. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 242-278.

Abstract: (from the chapter) the purposes of this chapter are to review evidence concerning dissociations between implicit and explicit knowledge in various neuropsychological syndromes, to discuss relevant empirical and conceptual issues, and to delineate the theoretical implications of the observed phenomena... consider more closely the nature of and relations among the various phenomena described; pay particular attention to the criteria used to assess patients' 'conscious awareness' of different types of information... consider possible theoretical accounts of the reported dissociations... outline a model of implicit/explicit dissociations... amnesia; blindsight; prosopagnosia; dyslexia; aphasia; hemineglect.

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Horn, Gabriel. What can the bird brain tell us about thought without language? Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 279-304.

Abstract: (from the chapter) address issues which have recurred in this symposium, particularly memory processes and face recognition, and will conclude by making some general remarks about 'thought' and 'consciousness'... recognition through exposure... a brain region involved in imprinting... is there a predisposition to respond to faces... language and thinking... thought and consciousness in humans and other animals.

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Dickinson, Anthony. Intentionality in animal conditioning. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 305-325.

Abstract: (from the chapter) aim is ...to re-examine some of the original evidence upon which the intentional interpretation of conditioning was first based without making any commitment to the ontological or causal status of such states... assume that an intentional account of behaviour is justified if that behaviour can be shown to be dependent on, in the sense of being a rational consequence of, a set of beliefs and desires about the world... manifest intentionality... instrumental conditioning... mechanistic processes in instrumental conditioning... changing desires.

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Diamond, Adele. Differences between adult and infant cognition: Is the crucial variable presence or absence of language? Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 337-370.

Abstract: (from the chapter) similarity of AB and delayed response... evidence linking delayed response to prefrontal cortex... results of human infants on AB; results with monkeys... results of human infants on delayed response; on object retrieval... results of monkeys on object retrieval... abilities required by AB and object retrieval: insights from the function subserved by the frontal lobe.

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Thinus-Blanc, Catherine. Animal spatial cognition. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 371-395.

Abstract: (from the chapter) consider some spatial behaviours, in animals, which cannot be explained (at least at present) without referring to cognitive maps, i.e. to an allocentrically organized representation of environmental features... how do we characterize spatial behaviours... adaptation as an index of spatial cognition... exploration: an interface between the real world and its representation... exploration and representations: reciprocal links.

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Bresard, Bernadette. Primate cognition of space and shapes. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 396-415.

Abstract: (from the chapter) objects as shapes and patterns... coloured landmarks... spatial frame for displacements and relocation... relocation and recognition after transformations in the space of places.

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Gazzaniga, Michael S. The dynamics of cerebral specialization and modular interactions. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 430-450.

Abstract: (from the chapter) pre- and post-operative evaluation of commissurotomy patients... post-operative variability for cognitive tasks... the 'what' of lateral specialization... right hemisphere capacities: windows on modularity.

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Kertesz, Andrew. Cognitive function in severe aphasia. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 451-463.

Abstract: (from the book) complementary approach to the study of cerebral specialization, whether within or between hemispheres, derives from the study of patients with focal brain lesions; Kertesz reviews a field that has long attracted attention in connexion with language and non-linguistic intelligence; from single case studies, he illustrates that in a few but significant number of individuals there is preserved non-verbal intellectual performance in the face of a severe language deficit.

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Bisiach, Edoardo. Language without thought. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 464-484.

Abstract: (from the chapter) draw some inferences about "thought without language" by showing what happens in "language without thought"... language and unilateral misrepresentation of the environment... the interplay of language and thought; language-based contributions to thought; long-term modification of thought by language.

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Jansons, Kalvis M. A personal view of dyslexia and of thought without language. Weiskrantz (1988), pp. 498-503.

Abstract: (from the cover) personal account by a gifted dyslexic mathematician of the nature of his disability and the non-verbal reasoning he uses in his work and much of his daily life.


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