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  Retrieval and unification of syntactic structure in sentence comprehension: An fMRI study using word-category ambiguity

Snijders, T. M., Vosse, T., Kempen, G., Van Berkum, J. J. A., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2009). Retrieval and unification of syntactic structure in sentence comprehension: An fMRI study using word-category ambiguity. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 1493-1503. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn187.

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Snijders, Tineke M.1, Author              
Vosse, Theo1, Author
Kempen, Gerard2, 3, Author              
Van Berkum, Jos J. A.3, 4, 5, Author              
Petersson, Karl Magnus3, 4, 5, Author              
Hagoort, Peter3, 4, 5, Author              
Affiliations:
1F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, ou_persistent22              
2Other Research, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, ou_55217              
3Unification, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, ou_55219              
4Neurobiology of Language Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, Nijmegen, NL, ou_102880              
5FC Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging , External Organizations, ou_55235              

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 Abstract: Sentence comprehension requires the retrieval of single word information from long-term memory, and the integration of this information into multiword representations. The current functional magnetic resonance imaging study explored the hypothesis that the left posterior temporal gyrus supports the retrieval of lexical-syntactic information, whereas left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) contributes to syntactic unification. Twenty-eight subjects read sentences and word sequences containing word-category (noun–verb) ambiguous words at critical positions. Regions contributing to the syntactic unification process should show enhanced activation for sentences compared to words, and only within sentences display a larger signal for ambiguous than unambiguous conditions. The posterior LIFG showed exactly this predicted pattern, confirming our hypothesis that LIFG contributes to syntactic unification. The left posterior middle temporal gyrus was activated more for ambiguous than unambiguous conditions (main effect over both sentences and word sequences), as predicted for regions subserving the retrieval of lexical-syntactic information from memory. We conclude that understanding language involves the dynamic interplay between left inferior frontal and left posterior temporal regions.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2008-11-102009
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: eDoc: 395361
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn187
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Title: Cerebral Cortex
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: New York, NY : Oxford University Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 19 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 1493 - 1503 Identifier: Other: 954925592440
ISSN: 1047-3211