Upcoming Cognitive Science Speaker Series talk examines how words structure our concepts

Image of the brain
Cross section Image of the brain

The next event in the Cognitive Science Speaker Series takes place on Jan. 20 and features Professor Gary Lupyan from the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison on the topic of “How Words Structure Our Concepts.”

Gary Lupyan
Gary Lupyan. Photo: University of Wisconsin, Madison.

York University’s Department of Philosophy, in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, presents the Cognitive Science Speakers Series. All talks take place on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. via Zoom. Prior to each talk, the Zoom link will be emailed to all students and faculty from Cognitive Science and Philosophy. Those not affiliated with these groups can join by emailing jbeck@yorku.ca to receive the Zoom links.

In his talk, Lupyan will examine the relationship between language and our brains. Does language reflect the categories of our mind or does it help create them? According to one widespread view, learning a language involves mapping words onto pre-existing categories, leaving little room for language to affect the conceptual landscape. Alternatively, many of our concepts — including some that seem very basic — may derive from our experience with and use of language. Lupyan will argue in favor of this second view and present evidence for the causal role of language in categorization and reasoning.