Spoken language comprehension is known to involve a large left-dominant network of fronto-temporal brain regions, but there is still little consensus about how the syntactic and semantic aspects of language are processed within this network. In an fMRI study, volunteers heard spoken sentences that contained either syntactic or semantic ambiguities as well as carefully matched low-ambiguity sentences. Results showed ambiguity-related responses in the posterior left inferior frontal gyrus (pLIFG) and posterior left middle temporal regions. The pLIFG activations were present for both syntactic and semantic ambiguities suggesting that this region is not specialised for processing either semantic or syntactic information, but instead performs cognitive operations that are required to resolve different types of ambiguity irrespective of their linguistic nature, for example by selecting between possible interpretations or reinterpreting misparsed sentences. Syntactic ambiguities also produced activation in the posterior middle temporal gyrus. These data confirm the functional relationship between these two brain regions and their importance in constructing grammatical representations of spoken language.
|Number of pages||12|
|Early online date||28 Dec 2009|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2010|