Descriptive study of cooperative language in primary care consultations by male and female doctors.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the use of some of the characteristics of male and female language by male and female primary care practitioners during consultations. DESIGN: Doctors' use of the language of dominance and support was explored by using concordancing software. Three areas were examined: mean number of words per consultation; relative frequency of question tags; and use of mitigated directives. The analysis of language associated with cooperative talk examines relevant words or phrases and their immediate context. SUBJECTS: 26 male and 14 female doctors in general practice, in a total of 373 consecutive consultations. SETTING: West Midlands. RESULTS: Doctors spoke significantly more words than patients, but the number of words spoken by male and female doctors did not differ significantly. Question tags were used far more frequently by doctors (P<0.001) than by patients or companions. Frequency of use was similar in male and female doctors, and the speech styles in consultation were similar. CONCLUSIONS: These data show that male and female doctors use a speech style which is not gender specific, contrary to findings elsewhere; doctors consulted in an overtly non-directive, negotiated style, which is realised through suggestions and affective comments. This mode of communication is the core teaching of communication skills courses. These results suggest that men have more to learn to achieve competence as professional communicators. (+info)
Disrupted temporal lobe connections in semantic dementia.
Semantic dementia refers to the variant of frontotemporal dementia in which there is progressive semantic deterioration and anomia in the face of relative preservation of other language and cognitive functions. Structural imaging and SPECT studies of such patients have suggested that the site of damage, and by inference the region critical to semantic processing, is the anterolateral temporal lobe, especially on the left. Recent functional imaging studies of normal participants have revealed a network of areas involved in semantic tasks. The present study used PET to examine the consequences of focal damage to the anterolateral temporal cortex for the operation of this semantic network. We measured PET activation associated with a semantic decision task relative to a visual decision task in four patients with semantic dementia compared with six age-matched normal controls. Normals activated a network of regions consistent with previous studies. The patients activated some areas consistently with the normals, including some regions of significant atrophy, but showed substantially reduced activity particularly in the left posterior inferior temporal gyrus (iTG) (Brodmann area 37/19). Voxel-based morphometry, used to identify the regions of structural deficit, revealed significant anterolateral temporal atrophy (especially on the left), but no significant structural damage to the posterior inferior temporal lobe. Other evidence suggests that the left posterior iTG is critically involved in lexical-phonological retrieval: the lack of activation here is consistent with the observation that these patients are all anomic. We conclude that changes in activity in regions distant from the patients' structural damage support the argument that their prominent anomia is due to disrupted temporal lobe connections. (+info)
Language processing is strongly left lateralized in both sexes. Evidence from functional MRI.
Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to examine gender effects on brain activation during a language comprehension task. A large number of subjects (50 women and 50 men) was studied to maximize the statistical power to detect subtle differences between the sexes. To estimate the specificity of findings related to sex differences, parallel analyses were performed on two groups of randomly assigned subjects. Men and women showed very similar, strongly left lateralized activation patterns. Voxel-wise tests for group differences in overall activation patterns demonstrated no significant differences between women and men. In further analyses, group differences were examined by region of interest and by hemisphere. No differences were found between the sexes in lateralization of activity in any region of interest or in intrahemispheric cortical activation patterns. These data argue against substantive differences between men and women in the large-scale neural organization of language processes. (+info)
Is grammar special?
Recent studies of children with developmental disorders provide striking insights into the nature of language. These studies suggest that, although much of language arises from more general cognitive capacities, certain aspects of grammar have an autonomous psychological and neural basis. (+info)
Linguistic diversity of the Americas can be reconciled with a recent colonization.
The Americas harbor a very great diversity of indigenous language stocks, many more than are found in any other continent. J. Nichols [(1990) Language 66, 475-521] has argued that this diversity indicates a great time depth of in situ evolution. She thus infers that the colonization of the Americas must have begun around 35,000 years ago. This estimate is much earlier than the date for which there is strong archaeological support, which does not much exceed 12,000 years. Nichols' assumption is that the diversity of linguistic stocks increases linearly with time. This paper compares the major continents of the world to show that this assumption is not correct. In fact, stock diversity is highest in the Americas, which are by consensus the youngest continents, intermediate in Australia and New Guinea, and lowest in Africa and Eurasia where the time depth is greatest. If anything, then, after an initial radiation, stock diversity decreases with time. A simple model is outlined that predicts these dynamics. It assumes that early in the peopling of continents, there are many unfilled niches for communities to live in, and so fissioning into new lineages is frequent. As the habitat is filled up, the rate of fissioning declines and lineage extinction becomes the dominant evolutionary force. (+info)
Molecular genetic evidence for the human settlement of the Pacific: analysis of mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome and HLA markers.
Present-day Pacific islanders are thought to be the descendants of Neolithic agriculturalists who expanded from island South-east Asia several thousand years ago. They speak languages belonging to the Austronesian language family, spoken today in an area spanning half of the circumference of the world, from Madagascar to Easter Island, and from Taiwan to New Zealand. To investigate the genetic affinities of the Austronesian-speaking peoples, we analysed mitochondrial DNA, HLA and Y-chromosome polymorphisms in individuals from eight geographical locations in Asia and the Pacific (China, Taiwan, Java, New Guinea highlands, New Guinea coast, Trobriand Islands, New Britain and Western Samoa). Our results show that the demographic expansion of the Austronesians has left a genetic footprint. However, there is no simple correlation between languages and genes in the Pacific. (+info)
Language outcome following multiple subpial transection for Landau-Kleffner syndrome.
Landau-Kleffner syndrome is an acquired epileptic aphasia occurring in normal children who lose previously acquired speech and language abilities. Although some children recover some of these abilities, many children with Landau-Kleffner syndrome have significant language impairments that persist. Multiple subpial transection is a surgical technique that has been proposed as an appropriate treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome in that it is designed to eliminate the capacity of cortical tissue to generate seizures or subclinical epileptiform activity, while preserving the cortical functions subserved by that tissue. We report on the speech and language outcome of 14 children who underwent multiple subpial transection for treatment of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. Eleven children demonstrated significant postoperative improvement on measures of receptive or expressive vocabulary. Results indicate that early diagnosis and treatment optimize outcome, and that gains in language function are most likely to be seen years, rather than months, after surgery. Since an appropriate control group was not available, and that the best predictor of postoperative improvements in language function was that of length of time since surgery, these data might best be used as a benchmark against other Landau-Kleffner syndrome outcome studies. We conclude that multiple subpial transection may be useful in allowing for a restoration of speech and language abilities in children diagnosed with Landau-Kleffner syndrome. (+info)
Laterality in animals: relevance to schizophrenia.
Anomalies in the laterality of numerous neurocognitive dimensions associated with schizophrenia have been documented, but their role in the etiology and early development of the disorder remain unclear. In the study of normative neurobehavioral organization, animal models have shed much light on the mechanisms underlying and the factors affecting adult patterns of both functional and structural asymmetry. Nonhuman species have more recently been used to investigate the environmental, genetic, and neuroendocrine factors associated with developmental language disorders in humans. We propose that the animal models used to study the basis of lateralization in normative development and language disorders such as dyslexia could be modified to investigate lateralized phenomena in schizophrenia. (+info)