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Tutor profile: Jason B.

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Jason B.
MA in Linguistics, McGill University
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Questions

Subject: Psychology

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Question:

How does the limbic system relate to the psychiatric disorder known as Capgras Syndrome?

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Jason B.
Answer:

Capgras Syndrome is a rare form of a delusional disorder in which the patient becomes convinced that close friends and relations have been replaced by imposters. While the etiology of the disorder is complex and still poorly understood, one potential explanation is offered by Hirstein and Ramachandran (1997). The limbic system is a complex of structures located in the brain which are associated with emotional responses to stimuli. Hirstein and Ramachandran suggest that in at least some cases, Capgras syndrome occurs when physical trauma results in a breakdown of communication between the part of the brain within the temporal cortex associated with facial recognition, and the amygdala, a crucial part of the limbic system associated with emotional responses and the reward system. In short, the patient no longer undergoes the subconscious emotional response typically coupled with familiar faces due to this communication failure; the development of the impostor delusion is possibly the outcome of a subconscious strategy for processing this unexpected cessation in emotional response. The presence of an imposter would be one way to explain the absence of typical emotional properties associated with the patient's loved ones.

Subject: Linguistics

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Question:

Briefly explain the judgments for the following sentences, where * indicates ungrammaticality, and matching indices denote co-reference: (a) *Jill's$$_{i}$$ father is proud of herself$$_{i}$$ (b) Jill's$$_{i}$$ father is proud of her$$_{i}$$ (c) *Jill's father$$_{i}$$ is proud of him$$_{i}$$

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Jason B.
Answer:

Pronominal elements and anaphors must be used in syntactic configurations which satisfy the so-called Binding Principles (Chomsky 1981, a.o.). A lexical item x binds a lexical item y when x and y are co-indexed and x c-commands y in the sentence's phrase structure tree. Binding Principle A concerns the use of anaphors (reflexives) such as 'herself'; such expressions must be bound within a relevant structural domain (not defined here), a relation which is satisfied when the anaphor possesses a co-referential antecedent in a structural position which c-commands it, per the definition of binding given in the preceding sentence. On the other hand, Binding Principle B concerns pronominal expressions such as 'he' and 'she', and states that these elements must not be bound. Example (a) is unacceptable as it violates Principle A; 'herself' is not bound, since 'Jill' is embedded within the possessive phrase 'Jill's father' and thus fails to c-command the anaphor. Example (b) is acceptable, since Principle B is satisfied; the pronominal expression 'her' is not bound, since the co-indexed antecedent 'Jill' does not c-command it. Finally, example (c) violates Principle B, since here the pronominal 'him' is both co-indexed with and c-commanded by 'father'.

Subject: Cognitive Science

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Question:

How does the Müller-Lyer illusion relate to arguments in favor of the modularity of mind hypothesis?

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Jason B.
Answer:

The Müller-Lyer illusion belongs to a set of optical illusions which persist even when the viewer is aware that their perception is illusory. This has been used by Jerry Fodor (1983) as evidence of a cognitive process (visual processing) which exemplifies modularity; it possesses limited accessibility from higher cognitive processes, and operates (in part) without reference to other cognitive systems.

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