Professor Iris Berent Deliveres the 52nd Annual Robert D. Klein Lecture
Northeastern University psychology professor Iris Berent delivered the 52nd annual Robert D. Klein Lecture on Tuesday afternoon in the Raytheon Amphitheater. In her talk—titled “How do human brains give rise to language?”—Berent argued that human language is a product of a specialized biological system, that we are innately equipped with a language instinct.
“People know how to talk in more or less the sense that spiders know how to spin webs,” she explained, quoting the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. “Spiders spin webs because they have spider brains, which give them the urge to spin and the competence to succeed.”
Here are five takeaways from the lecture, which was established in 1964 and renamed in 1979 in tribute to the late Robert D. Klein, professor of mathematics and vice chairman of the Faculty Senate.