The Neurobiology of Language beyond Single Words
SourceAnnual Review of Neuroscience, 37, 1, (2014)
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Neurobiology of Language
Annual Review of Neuroscience
Subject110 000 Neurocognition of Language
A hallmark of human language is that we combine lexical building blocks retrieved from memory in endless new ways. This combinatorial aspect of language is referred to as unification. Here we focus on the neurobiological infrastructure for syntactic and semantic unification. Unification is characterized by a high-speed temporal profile including both prediction and integration of retrieved lexical elements. A meta-analysis of a large number of neuroimaging studies reveals a clear dorsal/ventral gradient in both left inferior frontal cortex and left posterior temporal cortex, with dorsal foci for syntactic processing and ventral foci for semantic processing. Next to core areas for unification, additional networks need to be recruited to realize language-driven communication to its full extent. One example is the Theory-of-Mind network, which enables inferences of the intended message (speaker meaning) from the coded meaning of the linguistic utterance. This indicates that sensori-motor simulation cannot handle all of language processing. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Neuroscience Volume 37 is July 8, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
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