Steven Pinker

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Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and author of popular science writings. He is a Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University[1] and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His academic pursuits include experiments on mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children's language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of innuendo and euphemism. He published two technical books which proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children's learning of verbs. In his less academic books, he argued that language is an "instinct" or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection. On this point, he opposes Noam Chomsky and others who regard the human capacity for language to be the by-product of other adaptations. He is the author of five books for a general audience, which include The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007).

Contents

Biography

Career

Pinker was born in Canada and graduated from Montreal's Dawson College in 1971. He received a BA degree in Psychology from McGill University in 1976, and then went on to earn his PhD degree in Experimental Psychology at Harvard University in 1979. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a year, after which he became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University. From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and eventually became the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. (Except for a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995-6.) As of 2008, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard.[2]

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