Towards a computational(ist) neurobiology of language: correlational, integrated and explanatory neurolinguistics

David Embick, David Poeppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We outline what an integrated approach to language research that connects experimental, theoretical and neurobiological (NB) domains of inquiry would look like and ask to what extent unification is possible across the domains. At the centre of the programme is the idea that computational/representational (CR) theories of language must be used to investigate its NB foundations. We consider different ways in which CR and NB might be connected. These are (1) a correlational way, in which NB computation is correlated with the CR theory; (2) an integrated way, in which NB data provide crucial evidence for choosing among CR theories; and (3) an explanatory way, in which properties of NB explain why a CR theory is the way it is. We examine various questions concerning the prospects for explanatory connections in particular, including to what extent it makes sense to say that NB could be specialised for particular computations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2015


  • computation
  • explanation
  • levels
  • linguistic theory
  • reductionism
  • unification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a computational(ist) neurobiology of language: correlational, integrated and explanatory neurolinguistics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this