Skip to main content
×
×
Home

A perceptually grounded model of the singular–plural distinction

  • HAYDEN WALLES (a1), ANTHONY ROBINS (a1) and ALISTAIR KNOTT (a1)
Abstract

Embodied theories of language posit that the human brain’s adaptations for language exploit pre-existing perceptual and motor mechanisms for interacting with the world. In this paper we propose an embodied account of the linguistic distinction between singular and plural, encoded in the system of grammatical number in many of the world’s languages. We introduce a neural network model of visual object classification and spatial attention, informed by a collection of findings in psychology and neuroscience. The classification component of the model computes the type associated with a visual stimulus without identifying the number of objects present. The distinction between singular and plural is made by a separate mechanism in the attentional system, which directs the classifier towards the local or global features of the stimulus. The classifier can directly deliver the semantics of uninflected concrete noun stems, while the attentional mechanism can directly deliver the semantics of singular and plural number features.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Ansari, D., Lyons, I., van Eimeren, L., & Xu, F. (2007). Linking visual attention and number processing in the brain: the role of the temporo-parietal junction in small and large symbolic and nonsymbolic number comparison. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(11), 18451853.
Barner, D., Wood, J., Hauser, M., & Carey, S. (2008). Evidence for a non-linguistic distinction between singular and plural sets in rhesus monkeys. Cognition, 107, 603622.
Barsalou, L. (2008). Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617645.
Barth, H., Kanwisher, N., & Spelke, E. (2003). The construction of large number representations in adults. Cognition, 86, 201221.
Barwise, J., & Cooper, R. (1981). Generalized quantifiers and natural language. Linguistics and Philosophy, 4(2), 159219.
Baylis, G., Driver, J., & Rafal, R. (1993). Visual extinction and stimulus repetition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 5(4), 453466.
Bergen, B., & Chang, N. (2005). Embodied construction grammar in simulation-based language understanding. In Östman, J. O. & Fried, M. (Eds.), Construction grammar(s): cognitive and cross-language dimensions (pp. 147190). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [Reprinted in V. Evans, B. Bergen, & J. Zinken (Eds.), The cognitive linguistics reader. Equinox. 2007.]
Cantlon, J., Brannon, E., Carter, E., & Pelphrey, K. (2006). Functional imaging of numerical processing in adults and 4-y-old children. PLoS Biology, 4(5), 844854.
Chierchia, G. (1998). Plurality of mass nouns and the notion of ‘semantic parameter’. In Rothstein, S. (Ed.), Events and grammar (pp. 53103). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Connolly, A., Guntupalli, S., Gors, J., Hanke, M., Halchenko, Y., Wu, Y.-C., Abdi, H., & Haxby, J. (2012). The representation of biological classes in the human brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(8), 26082616.
Conway, B., Moeller, S., & Tsao, D. (2007). Specialized color modules in macaque extrastriate cortex. Neuron, 56, 560573.
Corbett, G. (2000). Number. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.
Damasio, H., Grabowski, T., Tranel, D., Hichwa, R., & Damasio, A. (1996). A neural basis for lexical retrieval. Nature, 380, 499505.
Domahs, F., Nagels, A., Domahs, U., Whitney, C., Wiese, R., & Kircher, T. (2012). Where the mass counts: common cortical activation for different kinds of nonsingularity. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(4), 915932.
Feigenson, L., Carey, S., & Hauser, M. (2002). The representations underlying infants’ choice of more: object-files versus analog magnitudes. Psychological Science, 13, 150156.
Feigenson, L., Dehaene, S., & Spelke, E. (2004). Core systems of number. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(7), 307314.
Feldman, J., & Narayanan, S. (2004). Embodiment in a neural theory of language. Brain and Language, 89(2), 385392.
Fias, W., & Fischer, M. (2005). Spatial representation of numbers. In Campbell, J. (Ed.), Handbook of mathematical cognition (pp. 4354). New York: Psychology Press.
Fink, G., Halligan, P., Marshall, J., Frith, C., Frackowiak, R., & Dolan, R. (1996). Where in the brain does visual attention select the forest and the trees. Nature, 382, 626628.
Flevaris, A., Bentin, S., & Robertson, L. (2010). Local or global? Attentional selection of spatial frequencies binds shapes to hierarchical levels. Psychological Science, 21(3), 424431.
Flevaris, A., Bentin, S., & Robertson, L. (2011). Attention to hierarchical level influences attentional selection of spatial scale. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37(1), 1222.
Gonzalez, R. C., & Woods, R. C. (1992). Digital image processing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Gottlieb, J., Kusunoki, M., & Goldberg, M. (1998). The representation of visual salience in monkey parietal cortex. Nature, 391, 481484.
Heinke, D., & Humphreys, G. (2003). Attention, spatial representation, and visual neglect: simulating emergent attention and spatial memory in the selective attention for identification model (SAIM). Psychological Review, 110(1), 2987.
Hughes, H. C., George, N., & Kitterle, F. (1996). Global precedence, spatial frequency channels and the statistics of natural images. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 8(3), 197230.
Hurford, J. (2001). Languages treat 1−4 specially. Mind and Language, 16, 6975.
Hurford, J. (2003). The interaction between numerals and nouns. In Plank, F. (Ed.), Noun phrase structure in the languages of Europe (pp. 561620). Berlin: de Gruyter.
Itti, L., & Koch, C. (2000). A saliency-based search mechanism for overt and covert shifts of visual attention. Vision Research, 40, 14891506.
Izard, V., Dehaene-Lambertz, G., & Dehaene, S. (2008). Distinct cerebral pathways for object identity and number in human infants. PLoS Biology, 6(2), 275285.
Just, M., Cherkassky, V., Aryal, S., & Mitchell, T. (2010). A neurosemantic theory of concrete noun representation based on the underlying brain codes. PLoS One, 5(1), e8622.
Kadir, T., & Brady, M. (2001). Saliency, scale and image description. International Journal of Computer Vision, 45(2), 83105.
Kadir, T., Hobson, P., & Brady, M. (2005). From salient features to scene description. In Workshop on Image Analysis for Multimedia Interactive Services.
Kamp, H., & Reyle, U. (1993). From discourse to logic. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Kanwisher, N. (1991). Repetition blindness and illusory conjunctions: errors in binding visual types with visual tokens. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 17, 414421.
Koch, C., & Ullman, S. (1985). Shifts in selective visual attention: towards the underlying neural circuitry. Human Neurobiology, 4, 219375.
Kreiman, G., Koch, C., & Fried, I. (2000). Category-specific visual responses of single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe. Nature Neuroscience, 3(9), 946953.
Kriegeskorte, N., Mur, M., Ruff, D., Kiani, R., Bodurka, J., Esteky, H., Tanaka, K., & Bandettini, P. (2008). Matching categorical object representations in inferior temporal cortex of man and monkey. Neuron, 60, 11201141.
Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, fire and dangerous things. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.
Liu, X., & Wang, D. (2000). Texture classification using spectral histograms. Technical Report TR17, Department of Computer and Information Science, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210–1277.
Logothetis, N. K., & Sheinberg, D. L. (1996). Visual object recognition. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 19, 577621.
Martin, A. (2007). The representation of object concepts in the brain. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 2545.
Moore, T., & Armstrong, K. M. (2003). Selective gating of visual signals by microstimulation of frontal cortex. Nature, 421, 370373.
Mozer, M. C., & Baldwin, D. S. (2008). Experience-guided search: a theory of attentional control. In Platt, J., Koller, D., & Singer, Y. (Eds.), Advances in neural information processing 20 (pp. 10331040). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Mozer, M. C., & Sitton, M. (1998). Computational modeling of spatial attention. In Pashler, H. E. (Ed.), Attention (pp. 341393). Hove: Psychology Press.
Navalpakkam, V., & Itti, L. (2005). Modeling the influence of task on attention. Vision Research, 45(2), 205231.
Navon, D. (1977). Forest before trees: the precedence of global features in visual perception. Cognitive Psychology, 9, 353383.
Nieder, A., & Miller, E. K. (2004). A parieto-frontal network for visual numerical information in the monkey. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(19), 74577462.
Olshausen, B., Anderson, C., & van Essen, D. (1993). A neurobiological model of visual attention and invariant pattern recognition based on dynamic routing of information. Journal of Neuroscience, 13(11), 47004719.
Palomares, M., & Egeth, H. (2010). How element visibility affects visual enumeration. Vision Research, 50, 20002007.
Peggy Li, P., Barner, D., Ogura, T., Yang, S., & Carey, S. (2009). Does the conceptual distinction between singular and plural sets depend on language? Developmental Psychology, 45(6), 16441653.
Piazza, M., Izard, V., Pinel, P., Le Bihan, D., & Dehaene, S. (2004). Tuning curves for approximate numerosity in the human intraparietal sulcus. Neuron, 44, 547555.
Piazza, M., Mechelli, A., Price, C., & Butterworth, B. (2006). Exact and approximate judgements of visual and auditory numerosity: an fmri study. Brain Research, 1106, 177188.
Polyn, S., Natu, V., Cohen, J., & Norman, K. (2005). Category-specific cortical activity precedes retrieval during memory search. Science, 310, 19631966.
Posner, M. I. (1980). Orienting of attention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 32(1), 325.
Quinlan, P. T., & Wilton, R. N. (1998). Grouping by proximity or similarity? Competition between the gestalt principles in vision. Perception, 27, 417430.
Riedmiller, M. (1994). Rprop − description and implementation details. Technical report, Institut für Logik, Komplexität und Deduktionssyteme, University of Karlsruhe.
Riesenhuber, M., & Poggio, T. (1999). Hierarchical models of object recognition in cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 2(11), 10191025.
Riesenhuber, M., & Poggio, T. (2002). Neural mechanisms of object recognition. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 12, 162168.
Robertson, L. (1996). Attentional persistence for features of hierarchical patterns. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 125, 227249.
Robertson, L., Lamb, M., & Knight, R. (1988). Effects of lesions of temporo-parietal junction on perceptual and attentional processing in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 8, 37573769.
Rolls, E. T., & Deco, G. (2006). Attention in natural scenes: neurophysiological and computational bases. Neural Networks, 19, 13831394.
Rothenstein, L., & Tsotsos, J. (2008). Attention links sensing to recognition. Image and Vision Computing, 26, 114126.
Rumelhart, D., Hinton, G., & Williams, R. (1986). Learning internal representations by error propagation. In Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructures of Cognition, volume 1: Foundations (pp. 318362). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Sarnecka, B., Kamenskaya, V., Yamana, Y., Ogura, T., & Yudovina, Y. (2007). From grammatical number to exact numbers: early meanings of ‘one,’ ‘two,’ and ‘three’ in English, Russian, and Japanese. Cognitive Psychology, 55(2), 136168.
Schyns, P., & Oliva, A. (1999). Dr Angry and Mr Smile: when categorization flexibly modifies the perception of faces in rapid serial visual presentations. Cognition, 69, 243265.
Shinkareva, S., Mason, R., Malave, V., Wang, W., Mitchell, T., & Just, M. (2008). Using fMRI brain activation to identify cognitive states associated with perception of tools and dwellings. PLoS One, 3(1), e1394.
Sowden, P., & Schyns, P. (2006). Channel surfing in the visual brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 538545.
Sudre, G., Pomerleau, D., Palatucci, M., Wehbe, L., Fyshe, A., Salmelin, R., & Mitchell, T. (2012). Tracking neural coding of perceptual and semantic features of concrete nouns. NeuroImage, 62, 51463.
Tanaka, K. (1996). Inferotemporal cortex and object vision. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 19, 103139.
Theeuwes, J. (1994). The effects of location cuing on redundant-target processing. Psychological Research, 57, 1519.
Thompson, K., & Bichot, N. (2005). A visual salience map in the primate frontal eye field. Progress in Brain Research, 147, 251262.
Tranel, D., Adolphs, R., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. (2001). A neural basis for the retrieval of words for actions. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 18(7), 655674.
Trick, L., & Pylyshyn, Z. (1994). Why are small and large numbers enumerated differently? A limited capacity preattentive stage in vision. Psychological Review, 101, 80102.
Tsotsos, J., Culhane, S., Wai, W., Lai, Y, Davis, N., & Nuflo, F. (1995). Modeling visual attention via selective tuning. Artificial Intelligence, 78, 507545.
Ullman, S. (1996). High-level vision: object recognition and visual cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ungerleider, L. A., & Mishkin, M. (1982). Two cortical visual systems. In Ingle, D. J.Goodale, M. A., & Mansfield, R. J. (Eds.), Analysis of visual behavior (pp. 549586). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Van der Sandt, R. (1992). Presupposition projection as anaphora resolution. Journal of Semantics, 9, 333377.
Vigliocco, G., Vinson, D., Druks, J., Barber, H., & Cappa, S. (2011). Nouns and verbs in the brain: a review of behavioural, electrophysiological, neuropsychological and imaging studies. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 407426.
Walles, H., Knott, A., & Robins, A. (2008). A model of cardinality blindness in inferotemporal cortex. Biological Cybernetics, 98(5), 427437.
Walther, D., & Koch, C. (2006). Modeling attention to salient proto-objects. Neural Networks, 19(9), 13951407.
Wolfe, J. M. (1994). Guided search 2.0 − a revised model of visual-search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1(2), 202238.
Wolfe, J. M. (2007). Guided search 4.0: current progress with a model of visual search. In Graw, W. (Ed.), Integrated models of cognitive systems (pp. 99119). New York: Oxford University Press.
Xue, G., Dong, Q., Chen, C., Lu, Z., Mumford, J., & Poldrack, R. (2010). Greater neural pattern similarity across repetitions is associated with better memory. Science, 330, 97101.
Yamaguchi, S., Yamagata, S., & Kobayashi, S. (2000). Cerebral asymmetry of the ‘top-down’ allocation of attention to global and local features. Journal of Neuroscience, 20(9), RC72.
Zhang, Y., Meyers, E., Bichot, N., Serre, T., Poggio, T., & Desimone, R. (2011). Object decoding with attention in inferior temporal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 108(21), 88508855.
Zwaan, R., & Taylor, L. (2006). Seeing, acting, understanding: motor resonance in language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135(1), 111.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1866-9808
  • EISSN: 1866-9859
  • URL: /core/journals/language-and-cognition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed