Ev Fedorenko: "The language system in the human brain."
The goal of my research program is to understand the representations and computations that enable us to share complex thoughts with one another via language, and their neural implementation. A decade ago, I developed a robust new approach to the study of language in the brain based on identifying language-responsive cortex functionally in individual participants. In this talk, I will highlight a few discoveries from the last decade and argue that the primary goal of language is efficient information transfer rather than enabling complex thought, as has been argued in one prominent philosophical and linguistic tradition (e.g., Wittgenstein, 1921; Berwick & Chomsky, 2016). I will also talk about how artificial neural network (ANN) language models can serve as computationally explicit hypotheses about human language processing and I will present evidence that some of these models capture human neural response to language.
Fedorenko joined the McGovern Institute and MIT in July 2019, having established her lab at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School in 2014. She earned her PhD in Cognitive Sciences at MIT in 2007, where she also conducted her postdoctoral research.