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Psycholinguistics

The study of human language is conducted through Psychology and Linguistics. In combining these two fields, we find that detailed study focusing on the origin and logic behind language is possible. Psycholinguistics is the in-depth psychological study of language. It focuses on the origin and function of language in regards to the human brain. The psycholinguistic study includes finding the way and logic behind the acquisition and comprehension of words in any language.

There are different sectors and approaches of scientific linguistic study. Psycholinguistics courses cover the Applied and Experimental Linguistic section that focus on the cognitive processes of manipulating sentences for human communication. Many researchers and students from other backgrounds, like cognitive science, speech pathology, biology, neuroscience, information theory, language pathology, psychology, or linguistics study this subject to gain detailed knowledge of language acquisition and the reasons behind it.

Psycholinguistic study is offered in both Undergraduate and Graduate programs. In undergraduate courses of Psycholinguistics, basic topics of Linguistics are covered under the Brain and Cognitive Science Department. These topics include language structure, morphological processing, speech processing, ambiguity solution, thought resolution, and so on. For easier representation, the Introduction to Psycholinguistics is divided into several Linguistics related segments like morphology, syntax, phonetics or phonology, semantics, etc. Morphology covers the structure and relationships of words, syntax focuses on letter and word pattern, phonetics focuses on the sounds of speech, and semantics spot the meaning of the words and sentences in the language.

In graduate programs of Psycholinguistics, a more sophisticated study and experimental approach is introduced. The psycholinguist takes a more quantitative approach at this level, using different computational models and experiment statistics. Different methodologies for experimenting in psycholinguistic study are introduced and conducted by the psycholinguist. These methods include behavioral reading of lexical decisions, eye movement tracking, computational modeling setup, and so on.

Recent technical development has opened a new horizon using medical techniques for psycholinguistics. In order to inspect the inner brain and nervous function for language comprehension, different Neuro-Imaging technologies, like PET, fMRI, MEG, and/or EEG is applied. The psycholinguist has to learn these methodologies to understand the language processing of the brain effectively and many helpful psycholinguistics notes are available online for further studies.

There are many textbooks and resources used in psycholinguistics classes depending on course level. ‘Psychology of Language’ by Carroll and David W. is the most recommended book for this subject. ‘Psycholinguistics’ by Jean Berko Gleason and Nan Bernstein Ratner; ‘The Articulate Mammal’ and ‘Words in The Mind’ by Aitchinson Jean are other recommended books for mainly undergrad students. For the higher division student or graduates, ‘The Psychology of Language’ by A. Trevor Harley and ‘Psycholinguistic Study’ by Michael Garman are more suitable and widely accepted.

The study of psycholinguistics enables future psycholinguists to understand and describe the way in which the human brain interprets the elements of language effectively.

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