Shared syntax in language production and language comprehension: An fMRI study
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Number of pages
SourceCerebral Cortex, 22, 7, (2012), pp. 1662-1670
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC PL
SW OZ DCC BO
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; Psycholinguistics
During speaking and listening syntactic processing is a crucial step. It involves specifying syntactic relations between words in a sentence. If the production and comprehension modality share the neuronal substrate for syntactic processing then processing syntax in one modality should lead to adaptation effects in the other modality. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, participants either overtly produced or heard descriptions of pictures. We looked for brain regions showing adaptation effects to the repetition of syntactic structures. In order to ensure that not just the same brain regions but also the same neuronal populations within these regions are involved in syntactic processing in speaking and listening, we compared syntactic adaptation effects within processing modalities (syntactic production-to-production and comprehension-to-comprehension priming) with syntactic adaptation effects between processing modalities (syntactic comprehension-to-production and production-to-comprehension priming). We found syntactic adaptation effects in left inferior frontal gyrus (Brodmann's area [BA] 45), left middle temporal gyrus (BA 21), and bilateral supplementary motor area (BA 6) which were equally strong within and between processing modalities. Thus, syntactic repetition facilitates syntactic processing in the brain within and across processing modalities to the same extent. We conclude that that the same neurobiological system seems to subserve syntactic processing in speaking and listening.
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