The plurality of neurosemantics
Neurosemantics is a relatively new approach to investigating the construction of linguistic meaning. In recent years, neurosemantics has been used in two different ways. One regards the meaning of the electrical and the chemical activities going on in neural circuits, or according to what we call the “the semantics of neurons” approach. The second, regards the type of semantics studied for years in philosophy: the meaning of language, but with the added intention of explaining in neural computational terms, what happens when people listen to and understand utterances. We think neurosemantics, understood as the construction of linguistic meaning in neural terms, requires an assumption of continuity. This is because the physiological strategies upon which language are based are no different in nature, to those by which neurons create non-linguistic conceptual systems. This continuity can subsist defending two different controversial notions, that of representation and computation.
In our work, we explore neurosemantics according to the second sense or approach mentioned above, but in doing so, we address much of the first sense or approach as well, in that we believe that the capacity of neural circuits in humans to support linguistic meaning, hinges on their peculiar role of coding experience. In this paper, we illustrate examples of linguistic phenomena that can be explained through the employment of these two concepts and briefly describe neurocomputational models that have simulated how this phenomena might be instantiated in the brain.
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