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Neural Theory of Language

Today, we had a wonderful time with Dr. Srini Narayanan who leads the AI Group at ICSI and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at UC Berkeley.

Here is abstract of the talk:

The UCB/ICSI NTL project has been developing an explicitly neural theory of language. The core premise is that language is largely determined by the computational character of neural networks, the structure of our brains, and our interactions with the physical and social environment. Work within the NTL project coupled with a variety of converging evidence suggests that understanding involves embodied enactment or "simulation semantics".

Simulation semantics hypothesizes the mind as "simulating" the external world while functioning in it. The "simulation" takes sensory input about the state of the world (whether linguistic or perceptual) together with general knowledge and makes new inferences. Monitoring the state of the external world, drawing inferences, and acting jointly constitute a dynamic ongoing interactive process.

We report on a neurally plausible, computational realization of the simulation semantics hypothesis, and on preliminary results from behavioral and fMRI imaging experiments testing its biological predictions.

The core ideas of NTL are captured in a recent book, From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language, by Professor Jerome Feldman.

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