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Cognitive neuropsychology: A window onto the literate mind and brain
Dr. Brenda Rapp
Professor and Chair, Department of Cognitive Science
Johns Hopkins University
Friday, December 12th, 4:00 pm Tolentine 215
Written language is an extraordinary human invention that has allowed for the communication and accumulation of knowledge across time and geography and, in doing so, has revolutionized human history. However, in evolutionary terms written language has entered the human repertoire only very recently, without the opportunity to carve out its own territory within the human genome. This raises a number of questions, including: How has the brain accommodated written language processes and representations? How are these related to those of evolutionarily older skills such as spoken language, object recognition, working memory? What is that we know when we know how to read and write words? Cognitive neuropsychological studies of individuals with written language deficits subsequent to neural injury have provided unique opportunities to further our understanding of the cognitive and neural bases of reading and spelling. I will discuss cognitive neuropsychological research directed at identifying the neural substrates of written language processing and the cognitive processes that support written language, as well as findings from the study of brain-injured individuals that reveal the richness and internal complexity of orthographic representations in the literate brain.