Gary F. Marcus (born February 8, 1970 in Baltimore, MD) is a research psychologist whose work focuses on language, biology, and the mind. Dr. Marcus is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University and Director of the NYU Infant Language Center.
His published works include The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science, The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought as well as Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind, published in April 2008. Editor of The Norton Psychology Reader, Marcus has also published his research on developmental cognitive neuroscience in more than forty articles in leading journals. In 1996, he won the Robert L. Fantz award for new investigators in cognitive development.
Marcus became interested in the human mind as a teenager. In high school, after creating a program which translated Latin into English, he came to the conclusion that one cannot build programs within machines that understand language without understanding how people can understand language. This led to an interest in cognitive psychology. He attended Hampshire College where he designed his own major, Cognitive Science, working on human reasoning. He continued on to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his advisor was the experimental psychologist Steven Pinker.
Theories of language and mind:
Marcus' research and theories focus on the intersection between biology and psychology. How do the brain and mind relate when it comes to understanding language? Marcus takes an innatism stance on this debate and through his psychological evidence has given many answers to open questions such as, "If there is something built in at birth, how does it get there?" He challenged connectionist theories which posit that the mind is only made up of randomly arranged neurons. Marcus argues that neurons can be put together to build circuits in order to do things such as process rules or process structured representations.
Research and written work:
Marcus' early work focused on why children produce overregularizations, such as breaked and goed, as a test case for the nature of mental rules.
In his doctoral dissertation, Marcus studied how children acquired the past tense of English verbs. He looked at 11,500 utterances by children to see when their past-tense forms were right, when they were wrong, and what the circumstances were. Although children knew how to use the past tense default (adding -ed to the end of a verb) they were unable to do so with verbs they did not know.
In 1999, he discovered that 7-month infants have the capacity to acquire abstract rules, such as the ABB structure in sentences such as la ta ta and wo fe fe.
In his first book, The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science (MIT Press, 2001), Marcus challenged the idea that the mind might consist of largely undifferentiated neural networks. He argued that understanding the mind would require integrating connectionism with classical ideas about symbol-manipulation.
In his second book, published in 2004, The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, Marcus goes into a more detailed explanation of the genetic support systems of human thought. He explains how a small number of genes account for the intricate human brain, common false impressions of genes, and the problems they may cause for the future of genetic engineering.
In 2005, Marcus was editor of The Norton Psychology Reader, including selections by cognitive scientists on modern science of the human mind.
Marcus' 2012 book, Guitar Zero, explores the process of taking up a musical instrument as an adult.
Marcus, G.; Freeman, J. (ed.) (2014). The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists. Princeton University Press,
Marcus, G. F. (2012). Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning. The Penguin Press,
Marcus, G. F. (2008). Kluge: The haphazard construction of the human mind. Houghton Mifflin.1,
Marcus, G. F. (ed.) (2006) The Norton Psychology Reader. New York: W. W. Norton.,
Marcus, G. F. (2004). The Birth of The Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought. New York: Basic Books.,
Marcus, G. F. (2001). The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.,
Fisher, S. E. & Marcus, G. F. (2006). The eloquent ape: genes, brains and the evolution of language. Nature Reviews Genetics.,
Fernandes, K. J., Marcus, G. F. DiNubila, J. A., & Vouloumanos, A. (2006). From Semantics to Syntax and Back Again: Argument Structure in the Third Year of Life. Cognition, 100, B10-20,
Marcus, G. F. (2006). Cognitive Architecture and Descent with Modification. Cognition 101, 443-465 .,
Marcus, G. F. & Rabagliati, H. (2006) The nature and origins of language: How studies of developmental disorders could help, Nature Neuroscience., 10, 1226-1229. invited,
Marcus, G. F. (2004) Before the Word. Nature 131, 765.,
Marcus, G. F. and Fisher, S. E. (2003). FOXP2 in focus: what can genes tell us about speech and language? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 257-262. Translated as "Le point sur FOXP2 : que peuvent nous enseigner les genes sur la parole et le langage, Médecine & enfance, Mai 2004.,
Berent, I., Marcus, G., Shimron, J., & Gafos, A. (2002). The scope of linguistic generalizations: Evidence from Hebrew word formation. Cognition. 83 (2), 113-139.,
Hauser, M., D. Weiss. D, & Marcus, G. F. (2002). Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins. Cognition, 86 (1) B15-B22.,
Marcus, G. F. (2000) Pa bi ku and ga ti ga: Two mechanisms children could use to learn about language and the world. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 9, 145-147.,
Marcus, G. F., Vijayan, S., Bandi Rao, S., and Vishton, P. M. (1999). Rule-learning in seven-month-old infants.Science, 283, 77-80.,
Marcus, G. F. (1999). Language acquisition in the absence of explicit negative evidence: Can simple recurrent networks obviate the need for domain-specific learning devices? Cognition, 73, 293-296.,
Marcus, G. F. (1998). Can connectionism save constructivism? Cognition, 66, 153-182.,
Marcus, G. F. (1998). Rethinking eliminative connectionism. Cognitive Psychology, 37, 243-282.,
Marcus, G. F. (1997). Extracting higher-level relationships in connectionist models. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 77.,
Marcus, G. F. (1996) Why do children say "breaked"? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5, 81-85.,
Marcus, G. F. (1995) The acquisition of inflection in children and multilayered connectionist networks. Cognition, 56, 271-279.,
Marcus, G. F. (1995). Children's overregularization of English plurals: a quantitative analysis. Journal of Child Language, 22, 447-459.,
Marcus, G. F., Brinkmann, U., Clahsen, H., Wiese, R., and Pinker, S. (1995). German inflection: The exception that proves the rule. Cognitive Psychology, 29, 189-256.,
Kim, J. J., Marcus, G. F., Pinker, S., Hollander, M., and Coppola, M. (1994). Sensitivity of children's inflection to grammatical structure, Journal of Child Language. 21, 173-209. Reprinted in K. Perera, G. Collis, and B. Richards (eds.) (1994) Growing Points in Child Language. Cambridge University Press.,
Marcus, G. F. (1993). Negative evidence in language acquisition. Cognition, 46, 53-85.,
Clahsen, H., Rothweiler, M., Woest, A. and Marcus, G. F. (1992). Regular and Irregular Inflection in the Acquisition of German Noun Plurals. Cognition 45, 225-255.,
Fernandes, K., Marcus, G., DiNubila, J, & Vouloumanos, A. (2005). Generalizing Argument Structure in the Third Year of Life. Proceedings of the 29th BU Conference on Language Development, Volume 1, Cascadilla Press. 192-203.,
superseded by Fernandes, Marcus, DiNubila, and Vouloumanos, 2006
Storjohann, R. & Marcus, G. F. (2001) NeuroGene: Integrated simultion of gene regulation, neural activity and neurodevelopment. Proceedings of the 2005 International Joint INNS-IEEE Conference on Neural Networks. In press.,
Marcus, G. F. (2005). What developmental biology can tell us about innateness and. In The Innate Mind: Structure and Content, P. Carruthers, S. Laurence and S. Stich (eds.). Oxford University Press.,
Marcus, G. F. (2001). Pasticity and nativism: Towards a resolution of an apparent paradox. In. S. Wermter, J. Austin and D. Willshaw (eds.) Emergent neural computational architectures based on neuroscience. Springer-Verlag, pp. 368-382.,
Marcus, G. F. (2000). Two kinds of representations. In E. Deitrch & A. Markman (Eds.), Cognitive dynamics: Conceptual and representational change in humans and machines Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.,
Marcus, G. F. (2000). Children's Overregularization and Its Implications for Cognition. In P. Broeder, & J. Murre (eds). Models of Language Acquisition: Inductive and deductive approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 154-176. not currently available on-line,
Marcus, G. F. (1999). Poverty of the stimulus arguments. In R. Wilson and F. C. Keil, (eds.) Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Cambridge MA, MIT Press., pp 660-661. not currently available on-line,
Bartke, S., Marcus, G. F., Clahsen, H. (1995). Acquiring German noun Plurals. In D. MacLaughlin & S. McEwen (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Boston: Cascadilla Press. not currently available on-line,
Clahsen, H., Marcus, G. F., Bartke, S., & Wiese, R. (1995). Compounding and inflection in German child language. Geert Booij and Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 1995. Kluwer, 1-28. An earlier version appeared in Essex Research Reports in Linguistics, #1, University of Essex, Colchester, England not currently available on-line.,
Marcus, G. F., Brinkmann, U., Clahsen, H., Wiese, R., Woest, A., and Pinker, S. (1993). German inflection: The exception that proves the rule. In Proceedings of 15th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. p. 670-675. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. not currently available on-line,
Kim, J. J., Marcus, G. F., Hollander, M. and Pinker, S. (1991). Children's inflection is sensitive to morphological structure. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development 30: 39-46. not currently available on-line,
Marcus. G. (2004). Programs of the Mind Review of What is Thought by Eric Baum. Science. 304, 1450-1451.,
Marcus, G. F. (2001). A gift for language Review Pathways to Language by Karmiloff & Karmiloff-Smith. 89, 456-458. not currently available on-line,
Marcus, G. F. (2000). Review of The Evolution of Mind edited by Denise D. Cummins and Colin Allen. Human behavior and evolution, 21, 63-64. not currently available on-line,
Marcus, G. F. (1997) Review of Exercises in rethinking innateness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1, 318-319. not currently available on-line,
Marcus, G. F. (1994). Review of Spoken Language Comprehension: An Experimental Approach to Disordered and Normal Processing by Lorraine Komisarjevsky Tyler. Mind & Language, 9 (1), 102-104. not currently available on-line,
Marcus, G. F. (1993). Review of Morphology and mind: A unified approach to explanation in linguistics by Christopher Hall. Applied Psycholinguistics, 14, 413-416. not currently available on-line
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