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Syntax through the looking glass: A review on two-word linguistic processing across behavioral, neuroimaging and neurostimulation studies

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Maran,  Matteo
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Zaccarella,  Emiliano
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Maran, M., Friederici, A. D., & Zaccarella, E. (2022). Syntax through the looking glass: A review on two-word linguistic processing across behavioral, neuroimaging and neurostimulation studies. PsyArXiv. doi:10.31234/osf.io/twjq7.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-025A-F
Abstract
In recent years a growing number of studies on syntactic processing has employed basic two-word constructions (e.g., “the tree”) to characterize the fundamental aspects of linguistic composition. This large body of evidence allows, for the first time, to closely examine which cognitive processes and neural substrates support the combination of two syntactic units into a more complex one, mirroring the nature of combinatory operations described in theoretical linguistics. The present review comprehensively examines behavioural, neuroimaging and neurostimulation studies investigating basic syntactic composition, covering more than 40 years of psycho- and neuro-linguistic research. Across several paradigms, four key features of syntactic composition have emerged: (1) the rule-based and (2) automatic nature of the combinatorial process, (3) a central role of Broca’s area and the posterior temporal lobe in representing and combining syntactic features, and (4) the reliance on efficient bottom-up integration rather than top-down prediction.