The functional organisation of the fronto-temporal language system: evidence from syntactic and semantic ambiguity

Jennifer Rodd, Olivia Longe, Billi Randall, Lorraine K. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1324-1335
Number of pages12
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume48
Issue number5
Early online date28 Dec 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

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Semantics
Temporal Lobe
Language
Prefrontal Cortex
Brain
Linguistics
Volunteers
Consensus
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Keywords

  • fMRI
  • speech
  • syntax
  • semantics
  • comprehension

Cite this

Rodd, Jennifer ; Longe, Olivia ; Randall, Billi ; Tyler, Lorraine K. / The functional organisation of the fronto-temporal language system : evidence from syntactic and semantic ambiguity. In: Neuropsychologia. 2010 ; Vol. 48, No. 5. pp. 1324-1335.
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The functional organisation of the fronto-temporal language system : evidence from syntactic and semantic ambiguity. / Rodd, Jennifer; Longe, Olivia; Randall, Billi; Tyler, Lorraine K.

In: Neuropsychologia, Vol. 48, No. 5, 04.2010, p. 1324-1335.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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