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Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature have won numerous prizes.

Titles by This Author

The Acquisition of Argument Structure

Before Steven Pinker wrote bestsellers on language and human nature, he wrote several technical monographs on language acquisition that have become classics in cognitive science. Learnability and Cognition, first published in 1989, brought together two big topics: how do children learn their mother tongue, and how does the mind represent basic categories of meaning such as space, time, causality, agency, and goals?

The Acquisition of Argument Structure

When children learn a language, they soon are able to make surprisingly subtle distinctions: "donate them a book" sounds odd, for example, even though "give them a book" is perfectly natural. How can this happen, given that children do not confine themselves to the sentence types they hear, and are usually not corrected when they speak ungrammatically? Steven Pinker resolves this paradox in a detailed theory of how children acquire argument structure.

A BIT of Learnability and Cognition, new edition

Bestselling author Steven Pinker’s early works on language acquisition have become classics in cognitive science. This BIT offers Pinker’s look back at this work and two pivotal chapters from Learnability and Cognition.

Titles by This Editor

Does intelligence result from the manipulation of structured symbolic expressions? Or is it the result of the activation of large networks of densely interconnected simple units? Connections and Symbols provides the first systematic analysis of the explosive new field of Connectionism that is challenging the basic tenets of cognitive science.

Edited by Steven Pinker

These essays tackle some of the central issues in visual cognition, presenting experimental techniques from cognitive psychology, new ways of modeling cognitive processes on computers from artificial intelligence, and new ways of studying brain organization from neuropsychology, to address such questions as: How do we recognize objects in front of us? How do we reason about objects when they are absent and only in memory? How do we conceptualize the three dimensions of space? Do different people do these things in different ways? And where are these abilities located in the brain?