Neurolinguistic approaches to proper name processing
Horst M. Müller
Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft
A major topic in cognitive science concerns the way lexical and conceptual knowledge is represented in the human brain.
Knowledge on the inner structure of the cognitive lexicon is necessary for theories e.g., on language learning, language
therapy of aphasics or computer based communicators in artificial intelligence. In this talk, I would like to focus on the
inner structure of nouns, especially of proper names. Based on theoretical considerations the special status of nomina
propria within the class of nouns can be traced back more than 2000 years in language philosophy. In addition, there are
neuropsychological findings of neurological patients with selective deficits e.g., comprehending either proper names or
common nouns. Since more than a decade, modern techniques in neuroscience allow new approaches for the investigation of
the cortical representation and processing of words in the working brain. My talk gives an overview on proper noun
processing, presenting neurolinguistic data using electrophysiological techniques (ERP analysis, EEG coherence analysis)
and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Dissoziations between common nouns, peoples first names, geographic
names and brand names are discussed.