First of all thank you all for taking the time to read me.

I have been entrusted in the language course of the career I am studying to read the theory of the sign of Ferdinand de Saussure. My question is this: Is your theory neuroscientifically proven? My doubt is given that its publication is from the beginning of the 20th century. Is there any possibility that the allusions Mr. Saussure made to the interpretation of the individuals of the concepts and their associations with the brain in a cognitive way are proven?

Thank you again, greet you very attentively: Mr. Federico Ventura.

Edit: I ran the question through Google Translate to bring it into English, as is required for this site. Check the revision history to see the original Spanish.

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this because questions on this site must be in English, sorry.
    – curiousdannii
    May 11, 2018 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


(First, an apology: I don't speak Spanish, and ran your question through Google Translate to understand it. So I may be misinterpreting things.)

If I understand right, what you're asking is: "is there any neurological evidence to support Saussure's theory of the signifier and the signified?" In other words, is there neurological support for the idea that we store words separately from the concepts they represent, with links between them?

I don't know of any neurological evidence, but there is some psychological evidence for it. In particular, "priming" works on both levels.

When someone is shown a series of letters (or played a series of phones), and told to determine whether it's a valid English word or not, they'll react more quickly and more accurately if the word has been "primed" in their mind first. You can "prime" a word by saying something that sounds similar (a similar signifier), or something with a similar meaning (a similar signified).

This is usually taken as evidence that we store words both by their sound and by their meaning: we have a section of our brain that stores sequences of phonemes, sorted in some way, and a section of our brains that stores semantic concepts ("lemmas"), sorted in some other way. And words are stored as links between these two data structures.

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