In order to comprehend linguistic intelligence, one ought to understand the mechanisms that control the basics of this intelligence, that is, speech and language. For spoken language, one has to look at the physiological aspects of speech generation and speech comprehension.
Speech generation occurs through a multistage process whereby the brain converts a thought into an understandable format that can be spoken and heard. It is mostly controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain. The steps are as follows:
Planning â€“ Here, the brain turns thoughts into an understandable form by constructing words and sentences. This occurs in an area referred to as the â€œBrocaâ€™s area,â€ located in the inferior frontal cortex.
Next, the brain plans on creating sounds for the constructed words and sentences by connecting them to known sounds and phonemes. The supplementary motor area has been known to play an important role in this step; however, the exact location is not known.
The final step is for the brain to signal the speech to be spoken, and this occurs through premotor cortex and motor cortex.
The comprehension of speech is a more complex process that is not yet understood in its entirety. Nonetheless, there has been evidence for the activation of superior temporal sulcus when one hears a speech, and the processing of speech seems to occur in an area called the Wernickeâ€™s area.
Apart from the above, hearing also plays an important role in both production as well as comprehension of speech. For instance, when one is speaking, the brain hears the speech in a feedback sort of a format, and it uses it to correct any errors.
Coming to written language, it has been found that the mechanism is fairly similar to that of spoken language. However, instead of connecting speech to sounds, the brain connects speech to symbols or letters; Brocaâ€™s area and inferior frontal gyrus are thought to be involved in semantic processing. The motor cortex, in this case, activates a different set of muscles so as to write the speech. This is different from the muscles involved with speaking.
When it comes to the comprehension of written language, Wernickeâ€™s area has been found to play a role in a manner similar to the comprehension of spoken language. The visual system plays a role similar to the one that the auditory system plays for spoken language. That is, the brain uses the visual system to comprehend, fix errors, etc.
Genetic factors: Apart from the above-mentioned physiological factors that play a role in linguistic intelligence, genetic factors are involved as well. The NRXN1 gene is related to the overall language ability. PCDH11 is another gene that has been connected to linguistic intelligence, and it is this gene that is considered to be the one that is responsible for variations in linguistic intelligence.
Measurement of Linguistic Intelligence:
While the ability to test linguistic intelligence as a whole is very difficult, verbal intelligence is the one that is measured and subjected to testing instead. This is carried out via verbal fluency tests, some of which are discussed below:
1. Semantic Fluency Test â€“ In this test, the test takers are required to produce words in groups. For example, listing kitchen tools.
2. Formal Fluency Test â€“ In this test, test takers are required to produce words on the basis of letters. That is,
i) Initial Letter Fluency Test â€“ The test taker is required to list words that start with a specific letter.
ii) Excluded Letter Fluency Test â€“ The test taker is required to list words that do not contain a specific letter.
3. Verb Fluency Test â€“ The test takers are required to list verbs.
4. Verbal Reproduction Test â€“ In this test, the test takers first listen to a monologue. After that, they are required to repeat the monologue. They are then scored on the basis of the number of words that they have used which belong to the original monologue.
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