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Linguistic prominence and Broca's area: The influence of animacy as a linearization principle

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Bornkessel,  Ina
Max Planck Research Group Neurotypology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Zysset,  Stefan
Department Cognitive Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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von Cramon,  D. Yves
Department Cognitive Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Grewe, T., Bornkessel, I., Zysset, S., Wiese, R., von Cramon, D. Y., & Schlesewsky, M. (2006). Linguistic prominence and Broca's area: The influence of animacy as a linearization principle. NeuroImage, 32(3), 1395-1402. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.04.213.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-C3F7-D
Abstract
Previous neuroimaging findings suggest a sensitivity of the pars opercularis of the left inferior frontal gyrus (i.e. a core subregion of Broca's area) to a number of linguistic dependencies governing the linear sequencing of information in a sentence (e.g. subjects should precede objects; the participant role hierarchy should be respected). The present study used event-related fMRI to examine the hitherto untested hypothesis that the violation of a linearization principle that is purely semantic in nature (animate arguments should precede inanimate arguments) would also lead to increased pars opercularis activation. To this end, we manipulated the features animacy and argument order in German sentences and found a significant increase of activation in the pars opercularis for a violation of the animacy principle even when the other factors mentioned above were controlled for. This result therefore calls for a “supra-syntactic” account of pars opercularis function in the real-time understanding of sentences.