The language marker hypothesis

Hagoort, P. (2023). The language marker hypothesis. Cognition, 230: 105252. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105252.
According to the language marker hypothesis language has provided homo sapiens with a rich symbolic system that plays a central role in interpreting signals delivered by our sensory apparatus, in shaping action goals, and in creating a powerful tool for reasoning and inferencing. This view provides an important correction on embodied accounts of language that reduce language to action, perception, emotion and mental simulation. The presence of a language system has, however, also important consequences for perception, action, emotion, and memory. Language stamps signals from perception, action, and emotional systems with rich cognitive markers that transform the role of these signals in the overall cognitive architecture of the human mind. This view does not deny that language is implemented by means of universal principles of neural organization. However, language creates the possibility to generate rich internal models of the world that are shaped and made accessible by the characteristics of a language system. This makes us less dependent on direct action-perception couplings and might even sometimes go at the expense of the veridicality of perception. In cognitive (neuro)science the pendulum has swung from language as the key to understand the organization of the human mind to the perspective that it is a byproduct of perception and action. It is time that it partly swings back again.
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