“Listening to the Brain’s Voice When Speech Is Lost.” – Dr. John F. Connolly


LANGUAGE MATTERS – Dr. John F. Connolly

Professor & Chair, Department of Linguistics, McMaster University

Senator Wm. McMaster Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language

Language is viewed as an ability that separates Homo Sapiens from other species. Language is also considered the cornerstone of conscious reflection – another phenomenon thought to be uniquely human. Finally, language is seen as the foundation of many cognitive processes such as thinking and controlling action. Fundamentally, language is central to many abilities and characteristics that define our species as unique and are essential for daily functioning. What happens if we lose our ability to communicate – if we suffer a stroke or a traumatic brain injury? We may be judged to be “low functioning” by medical experts and fail to receive the clinical interventions that might otherwise be offered. We may also be treated as intellectually disabled by both healthcare professionals and our closest family and friends. This talk will start by reviewing neurolinguistic research using brain recording/imaging tools to understand how the brain processes language. The talk will segue into the medical applications of this work that have significantly affected patients’ lives, offered new insights into consciousness, and shown that communicating with the “non-communicative” is best done using advances in neurolinguistics.

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