Using sentence comprehension as a case study for all of cognitive science, David Townsend and Thomas Bever offer an integration of two major approaches, the symbolic-computational and the associative-connectionist. The symbolic-computational approach emphasizes the formal manipulation of symbols that underlies creative aspects of language behavior. The associative-connectionist approach captures the intuition that most behaviors consist of accumulated habits. The authors argue that the sentence is the natural level at which associative and symbolic information merge during comprehension.
The authors develop and support an analysis-by-synthesis model that integrates associative and symbolic information in sentence comprehension. This integration resolves problems each approach faces when considered independently. The authors review classic and contemporary symbolic and associative theories of sentence comprehension, and show how recent developments in syntactic theory fit well with the integrated analysis-by-synthesis model. They offer analytic, experimental, and neurological evidence for their model and discuss its implications for broader issues in cognitive science, including the logical necessity of an integration of symbolic and connectionist approaches in the field.
These essays by some of the most prominent figures in linguistics, artificial intelligence, and psychology explore the problems involved in creating a general cognitive science that will treat language, thought, and behavior in an integrated fashion. They address the fundamental questions of the relations between linguistic structures and cognitive processes, between cognitive processes and language behavior, and between language behavior and linguistic structure.
Contents: Introduction, Thomas G. Bever (Columbia University), John M. Carroll and Lance A. Miller (IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center). Philosophy and Linguistics: An Outline of Platonist Grammar, Jerrold J. Katz (CUNY). Sense and Reference in a Psychologically Based Semantics, Ray Jackendoff (Brandeis University). Some Thoughts on the Boundaries and Components of Linguistics, Charles J. Fillmore (University of California, Berkeley). Psychology: Approaches to the Study of the Psychology of Language, Walter Kintsch (University of Colorado). Toward An Abstract Performance Grammar, Charles E. Osgood (University of Illinois). Upgrading a Mind, David Premack (University of Pennsylvania). Computational Models: Memory, Meaning, and Syntax, Roger Schank (Yale University) and Lawrence Birnbaum (Yale University). Some Inadequate Theories of Human Language Processing, Mitchell P. Marcus (AT&T Bell Laboratories).