Cognitive Processes Associated with Language

Austin Reynolds, Cristoria Castrejon, LaTonya Bethune, Maria Munoz, and Melvin Brown


December 17, 2018

Dr. Gurinder Bolina

Cognitive Processes Associated with Language

Language is very important to all humans and is many times taken for granted. This is the main source of communication for all humans. Without the ability of language, no human will be able to communicate with one another. Language is used to communicate feelings, thoughts, information, ideas, etc. There are many methods of language that include verbal language, body language, and sign language. Throughout the world there are different cultures which implies many different languages that are used. Since there are many different languages throughout the world, we also rely on interpreters to help us better understand what the other language is trying to communicate.

It is crucial in everyday lives to be able to communicate and understand the people that are around us. Language has a great connection to cognitive psychology. This includes cognitive functions such as encoding, storage, and retrieval of information that supports problem-solving, remembering, memory, decision making, thinking, reasoning, learning, speaking, and attention. All of these influence languages and the cognitive process in many different ways. It is important for verbal, body, and sign language to be used in the cognitive process in order for the brain to have a better understanding of what is going on and how one can communicate with other people. In this paper we will be reviewing more information on language along with the cognitive process and how their functions affect the human brain in different ways.

Encoding and Language

Storage and Language (Melvin)

According to Anderson (2010), people do not have a tendency to retain the exact words of language communication; instead, they retain “a more abstract representation of the meaning of the communication” (p. 338). Representations of information are stored in both short-term and long-term memory for recall or retrieval at different times in the life of a person. In 1999, Barsalou proposed the hypothesis known as the perceptual symbol system—an extension of Paivio’s dual-code theory. The perceptual symbol system suggests that thought is more than just subvocal speech; it consists of rich internal perceptual representations. Instead of abstract propositional representations of language and other stimuli, information is represented in combined visual and verbal codes (Anderson, 2010).

Language or linguistic knowledge does not mean a person has an explicit understanding about the elements and rules of a language (Francis, 1999). To effectively communicate, an individual must have knowledge of the meanings of familiar words or expressions, knowledge of phonetic symbols or sounds, and the syntactic rules of language (Francis, 1999). Memory of an experience in language communication stems from a given place or time when the experience occurred. Linguistic knowledge and memory of a verbal experience are different; semantic memory is associated with linguistic knowledge, but episodic memory is associated with memory of a verbal experience (Francis, 1999). Both are part of the declarative memory system. A large amount of linguistic knowledge is stored in long-term memory and consists of overlearned information that is not explicit; whereas new episodic knowledge is often short-term, not learned well, and may sometimes be explicit (Francis, 1999). “Storage and retrieval processes are very important in the discussion of memory for verbal episodes but less important in the discussion of the long-term linguistic representation of a word” (Francis, 1999, p. 197).

Retrieval of Information and Language



Anderson, J. R. (2010). Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications (7th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers

Francis, W. S. (1999). Cognitive integration of language and memory in bilinguals: Semantic

representation. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 193-222.

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