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Neurolinguistics

In the first chapter of Loraine K. Obler and Kris Gjerlow’s book, “Language and the
Brain” presents a brief introduction on the relationship of brain and language. It is a
concise accessible introduction to the linguistic and neuro-anatomical underpinnings of
language. However, it is mostly focusing on language use in brain-damaged patients. It
starts with a brief history about the field of neurolinguistics. They mention the classic
works by Broca and Wernicke, as well as the Boston School and its role in modern
aphasiology. The authors claim that psycholinguists also participate in the study of
neurolinguistics, especially in the fields of of neuropsychologists. The different between
psycholinguists and neurolingusitcs is that psycholinguists are more focusing on to the
study of language processing in normal than in patient with brain damage. The authors
cite the Paul Broca’s localization for language recognition in brain. It says that certain
area on the left surface of the brain which is responsible for language recognition.

In the first chapter, the authors explain how their book is structured. The second chapter
provides a basic overview of the neuroanatomical structures in the brain. The reader is
familiarized with the architecture of neurons and how neurons communicate with each
other via electrochemical processes. The authors present the most important research
methodologies for localizing the hemispheric dominance for language in Chapter 3. In
Chapter 4 and 5, they are about the classification of aphasic syndromes and their
underlying symptoms. Aphasia is an impairment in the area of language without other
cognitive deficits. In Chapter 6, about aphasia of children are studied. It is basically about
language acquisition and tries to make the connection to brain development in the child.
The cases of Genie and other children with specific language impairment (SLI) are
discussed. However, this chapter seems disconnected from the previous and the following
chapter, and it is difficult for the reader to see the connection between this chapter and
the rest of the volume. Maybe it would have been better to try and incorporate the facts
about childhood aphasia in the previous chapters. In the Chapter 7, it talks about damage
to the right hemisphere of the brain. It is important to describe the consequences of right
hemisphere damage for the use of language because in certain aspects of linguistic
processing, such as the processing of suprasegmental structures are mainly done by the
right hemisphere. The next chapter, Chapter 8 focuses on Alzheimer’s dementia and its
consequences for language processing. Patients with dementia experience word finding
difficulties more frequently than healthy subjects. In Chapter 9, specific language deficits
namely dyslexia and dysgraphia are discussed. Both are impairments involve written
language processing: dyslexia is a reading deficit, and dysgraphia is a spelling deficit. In
Chapter 10, the authors discuss the phenomenon of bilingualism or bidialectal.

This book is too basic. It is only a decent introductory book about the study of language
and the brain. The individual chapters are relatively independent of each other and can be
read independently.