ECTS credits


Number of hours: Lectures + Seminars + Exercises

15 / 30 / 0

Course objectives

The course Language and neuroscience deals with language as the mirror-image of neuro-biological processes in the human brain responsible for the creation of meaning in the broadest sense. Language is studied as a system whose main component is meaning.

The course takes semantic relations (antonymy, synonymy, polysemy) as a starting point for understanding meaning as the product of the entire language system, and also as a reflection of thought. With this in mind, the course is based on the cognitive linguistic theoretical framework which relies on neuroscientific research that includes a linguistic component, whose aim is to better understand the connection between language and thought. Starting from semantically based meaning relations, the course examines linguistic signs and structures as parts of an interconnected network of concepts that arise from the neuro-biological activity of the human brain.

With this aim, the course considers various linguistic and neuroscientific research methods and tools (questionnaires, EEG, MEG, fMRI, etc.) which can offer some answers to the widely posed research questions on the functioning of language in the human brain, and what these answers could reveal about what it means to be human.

Enrolment requirements and/or entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes at the level of the programme to which the course contributes

  • Apply theoretical knowledge of the fundamentals of the six core disciplines and their relationship within cognitive science.
  • Apply specific knowledge and skills from selected disciplines constituting cognitive science.
  • Apply interdisciplinary approach in examining phenomena pertaining to cognition.
  • Employ diverse disciplinary tools in exploring and describing the nature of cognitive processes.

Course content (syllabus)

  • Course introduction.
  • Language and meaning.
  • Language and the human brain.
  • How does the human brain compute language: polysemy and embodiment.
  • How does the human brain compute language: metaphor and metonymy.
  • Language as a cognitive process: categorization.
  • Language as a cognitive process: antonymy.
  • Midterm exam.
  • Methods and tools for language research 1.
  • Methods and tools for language research 2.
  • Student project: poster presentation design - choosing topics.
  • Neuroscientific tools for language research 1.
  • Neuroscientific tools for language research 2.
  • Poster presentations.
  • Final exam.

Student responsibilities

Attend class, read course materials, pass two exams, design a poster presentation.

Required literature

  • Croft, William, Alan D. Cruse. 2004. Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge University Press
  • Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things: what categories reveal about the mind. The University of Chicago Pressof Chicago Press
  • Cruse, Alan D. 2000. Meaning in language: an introduction to semantics and pragmatics. Oxford University Press
  • Lakoff, George, Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. The University of Chicago Press
  • Jones, Steven, M. Lynn Murphy, Carita Paradis, Caroline Willners. 2012. Antonyms in English: construals, constructions, and canonicity. Cambridge University Press

Optional literature

  • Withaker, Harry. 2010. Concise encyclopedia of brain and language. Elsevier Ltd.
  • Bookheimer, Susan. "Functional MRI of language: new approaches to understanding the cortical organization of semantic processing". In: Annual Review of Neuroscience 2002.25:151-188