I can only endorse Howard's view. In an earlier thread in PSYART I expressed a similar position. Later I expanded my contribution to the thread into a composition called "The Neurological Fallacy, which I define as a non-article. It is due to be published in Pragmatics and Cognition. There I am trying to explain in what conditions it is legitimate to drag in neuroscience into psychology and literary criticism, and in what conditions not. I don't think I am free to publish it on the list; but if someone is interested, I should be pleased to send off-list an unedited version of it. 


Reuven Tsur

The Cognitive Poetics Project

Professor Emeritus

Hebrew Literature

Tel Aviv University


Recipient of Israel Prize 2009

Skype: tsurxx

On 6 בינו 2013, at 18:12, [log in to unmask] wrote:

I may misunderstand this altogether, but it doesn't seem to me that it demonstrates their conclusion at all. At the very best, it seems only to indicate that the same areas of the brain are used to process all languages. That's useful to verify but not particularly surprising. It says little or nothing about the nature of the processing that takes place. It would be like saying that the meaning of having a meal together has the same meaning in all cultures because the the GI tract always digests the food. 

If I'm right in this, to me it's simply another indication of how the zeal to reduce mind to brain leads too many neuroscientists to the kind of crude and simplistic reductionism that does a disservice both to their field and to the complexity of what it means to be human.

Howard Gorman

On 2013.01.06, at 10:03 AM, Norman Holland <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi, all,

I find this a fascinating conclusion. It continues Hasson's line of research showing that our brains treat overall meaning differently from immediate sensory input.  It is, of course, only one paper.   I'll be interested to see the follow-ups if any.  All the best, Norm

J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 31;32(44):15277-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1800-12.2012.

Not lost in translation: neural responses shared across languages.


Department of Psychology and Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, USA.


How similar are the brains of listeners who hear the same content expressed in different languages? We directly compared the fMRI response time courses of English speakers and Russian speakers who listened to a real-life Russian narrative and its English translation. In the translation, we tried to preserve the content of the narrative while reducing the structural similarities across languages. The story evoked similar brain responses, invariant to the structural changes across languages, beginning just outside early auditory areas and extending through temporal, parietal, and frontal cerebral cortices. The similarity of responses across languages was nearly equal to the similarity of responses within each language group. The present results demonstrate that the human brain processes real-life information in a manner that is largely insensitive to the language in which that information is conveyed. The methods introduced here can potentially be used to quantify the transmission of meaning across cultural and linguistic boundaries.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 

 [Available on 2013/4/30]