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Language and Cognition

Code: 106228 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2504235 Science, Technology and Humanities OB 2 2


Xavier Roque Rodriguez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:

External teachers

Jesús Vega Encabo
José Manuel Igoa
Olga Fernández


There are none.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The aim of this course is to examine the place of language in our cognitive architecture from different perspectives, such as linguistics, psychology of language and philosophy. It aims, on the one hand, to provide students with the theoretical tools to address questions about the nature of language and linguistic cognition and, on the other, to account for its relationship to other aspects of cognition and thought. The course examines how language, as a complex phenomenon, offers numerous clues to the functioning of mind and thought.


  • Display a capacity for organisation and planning and, at the same time, for adapting to new problems or situations.
  • Explain human cognition and intelligence on the basis of the construction of symbolic languages and systems.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.
  • Work collaboratively in teams.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Approach language through specific methods for requesting and using linguistic data.
  2. Evaluate the problems posed by the study of language and cognition based on the methods and concepts of philosophy, linguistics, cognitive science and other disciplines.
  3. Gain familiarity with the different programmes of naturalistic study of the mind and their functioning.
  4. Integrate elements from different areas of knowledge to analyse a situation and suggest actions or solutions.
  5. Know the structure and evolution of the faculty of language, and the interactions between language and cognition.
  6. Produce creative papers and personal projects in the corresponding area of study.
  7. Promote team spirit and the integration of others' points of view.


Theme I. The faculty of language
I.1. Human language. Natural languages. The faculty of language
I.2. Biolinguistics: language as a biological capacity of the human species
I.3. Properties of languages
I.4. Language acquisition
I.5. Nature of language. Internal language and external language
I.6. The computational system
I7. The so-called interfaces: the perceptual articulatory system and the conceptual-intentional system

Theme II. The relations of language and cognition
II.1. Thought and language
II.2. Internal speech
II.3. Does language structure our mind?
II.4. Language as a tool and as scaffolding
II.5. Language and consciousness
II.6. Language and Modularity of the Mind

Topic III. Language and cognitive processes
III.1. Psychological processes in the use of language
1. Basic notions of cognitive architecture
2. Speech perception and word recognition; basic processes in reading
3. Utterance and discourse processing
4. Language production
5. Language processing in bilinguals
III.2. Ontogeny and phylogeny of language
1. Innatism and specificity in language acquisition
2. Language development in monolingual and multilingual environments
3. Comparative language and cognition: cognition and communication in non-human animals
4. Debates on the origin of language


This course is organised as (i) a series of lectures in which the teachers will present the topics of the programme, (ii) discussion seminars that will require the prior preparation of the students based on reading materials and the organisation of debates, and (iii) the supervised completion of a series of personal tasks and assignments.
The virtual campus tools will provide all the details regarding the work materials and the dates for the completion of the activities proposed throughout the course.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Learning exercises 16 0.64 2, 6, 7, 4
Lectures 33 1.32 1, 5, 3
Type: Supervised      
Essay supervision 4.25 0.17 1, 2, 5, 6, 3, 7, 4
Type: Autonomous      
Reading course material 30 1.2 2, 5, 6, 3, 7
Study and preparation of themes and essays 62.25 2.49 2, 5, 6, 7


In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Assignments and essays 30% 0 0 2, 6, 7, 4
Class presentations 20% 1.5 0.06 7, 4
Written exam 50% 3 0.12 1, 2, 5, 3


Belinchón, M.; Igoa, J.M.; Rivière, A. Psicología del lenguaje: Investigación y teoría. Madrid: Trotta, 2009 (1ª ed. 1992).
Boeckx, Cedric. Biolinguistics. ICREA.
Carruthers, P.; J. Boucher (Eds.). Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 
Carruthers, P. Language in Cognition. En: E. Margolis, R. Samuels, and S. Stich (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Clark, A. (1997). Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997. Hay trad. esp.: Estar ahí, Barcelona: Paidós, 1999.
Cuetos, F., González, J. y De Vega, M. Psicología del lenguaje. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana, 2015.
Chomsky, Noam. Sobre la naturaleza y el lenguaje. Tres Cantos: Akal, 2003.
Chomsky, Noam. What Kind of Creatures Are We? New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.
Eguren L. y Fernández Soriano, O. Introducción a una sintaxis minimista. Madrid, Gredos, 2016.
Escandell, M. Victoria. La comunicación. Lengua, cognición y sociedad. Tres Cantos: Akal, 2014. 
Gallego, Ángel. Manual de sintaxis Minimista. Tres Cantos: Akal, 2021.
Gentner, D.; S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.). Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of Language and Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.
Gomila, A. Verbal Minds. Language and the Architecture of Cognition. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2012.
Gumperz, J. J.; Levinson, S. C. (Eds.). Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Jackendoff, R. (1996). How language helps us think. Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (1996): 1–24.
Langland-Hassan, P.; A. Vicente (Eds.). Inner Speech: Nature and Functions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 
Mendívil-Giró, J. L. Origen, evolución y diversidad de las lenguas: una aproximación biolingüística. Berna: Peter Lang, 2009.
Mendívil-Giró, José Luis; J. C. Moreno-Cabrera. On Biology, History and Culture in Human Language. A Critical Overview. Sheffield: Equinox, 2014.
Mendívil-Giró, José-Luis. What are Languages? A Biolinguistic Perspective. Open Linguistics 1 (2014): 71–95.
Pinker, S. The Language Instinct. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994. Hay trad. cast.: El instinto del lenguaje, Madrid: Alianza, 1995.
Pinker, S. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007.
Sacks, O. (1988). Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988. Hay trad. cast.: Veo una voz. Viaje al mundo de los sordos, Madrid: Anagrama, 2006.
Sedivy, J. Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2014.
Spivey, M. J.; McRae, K; Joanisse, M. F. The Cambridge Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Vega, M. de y Cuetos, F. (Eds.). Psicolingüística del español. Madrid: Trotta, 1999.
Vygotsky, L. S. Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1962. Hay trad. cast.: Pensamiento y lenguaje, Barcelona: Paidós, 2020.
Whorf, B. Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1956. Hay trad. cast.: Lenguaje, pensamiento y realidad, Barcelona: Barral, Barcelona, 1971.
Wilson, R.A. y Keil, F. Enciclopedia del MIT de ciencias cognitivas (2 vols.). Madrid: Síntesis, 2002.


No specific software required.