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Neural bases of Chinese syntactic representation across both tasks and syntactic constructions


Gao,  Xuefei
Psychology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Zhang, W., Feng, G., Chen, H.-C., & Gao, X. (2016). Neural bases of Chinese syntactic representation across both tasks and syntactic constructions. Poster presented at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL 2016), London, UK.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-9D28-5
Previous studies using alphabetic materials have shown that syntax-related manipulation resulted in brain activation while performing implicit syntax tasks. However, it is still an open question as to whether this conclusion can be applied to logographic Chinese, differing drastically from alphabetic languages. For example, in Chinese words do not generally have explicit grammatical markers, and syntax and semantics are relatively closely inter-related. Because previous studies adopting Chinese materials mainly employed violation paradigms to investigate the neural networks of Chinese syntactic, further studies are needed to investigate how the different tasks modulate the neural bases of Chinese syntactic, especially under the implicit syntax tasks. The present study used high spatial resolution fMRI technique to investigate Chinese two-word phrase processing. The factors of syntactic construction and task demand were orthogonally manipulated. Specifically, 120 phrases were constructed and were evenly divided into four syntactic construction types while phrase familiarity, frequency and visual complexity (i.e., number of strokes) were matched across types: 30 nounadjective argument, 30 verb-noun argument, 30 adjective-noun modification and 30 adjective-adjective parallel constructions. Participants were asked to finish two tasks for each of these phrases, i.e., 1-back syntactic construction task and 1-back word task. For the 1-back syntactic construction task, they should respond if the syntactic construction of the current phrase matched with the previous phrase, and, for the 1-back word task, they should respond if either word in the current phrase matched with a word in the previous phrase. Each task consisted of 3 blocks and the order of the task was counterbalanced across participants. Each trial lasted 10s on average, consisting of fixation cross (0.5s), blank interval (0.3s), phrase (2.2s) and blank interval (3s, 5s, 7s, 9s or 11s). The whole fMRI recording for each participant lasted around 55min. The representation dissimilar matrices (RDM) of syntactic construction was created for representation similar analysis (RSA). The RSA searchlight results of 18 participants revealed that the activity patterns in the left middle frontal