Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sentence processing in the cerebral cortex

Sentence processing in the cerebral cortex

The exact correlation between cortical language areas and subcomponents of the linguistic system has not been established. One notable drawback is that most functional imaging studies have tested language tasks at the word level, such as lexical decision and word generation tasks, thereby neglecting the syntactic aspects of the language faculty.

The current direction of research in neuroscience is beginning to establish the existence of distinct modules responsible for our knowledge of language.

In the paper Sentence processing in the cerebral cortex, Dr. Sakai and colleagues propose a model of reciprocal interactions between cognitive components of mind and language. This models contains perception, memory, language, and consciousness, which are all interconnected.

The modules in the language component are Broca's area (syntax), Wernicke's area (phonology), and angular gyrus/supramarginal gyrus (semantics).

One of the experiments that they did used sentences with either spelling errors or a grammar errors:

Spelling errors:
Bill wrote a papger about the discussion of the treaty.
The editor read the article with Anne's rezvisions after lunch.

Grammar errors:
Bill wrote paper a about the discussion of the treaty.
The editor read article the with revisions Anne's after lunch.

Some of the sentences contained one error, some two. The subjects read groups of sentences one at a time from a computer screen. In each trial the sentences contained only grammar errors or only spelling errors. The subjects were asked to determine how many errors there were. With a sufficient number of trials, this protocol allows all effects except grammar and spelling to be controlled. The results were that the grammar caused additional activity only in Broca's area but the spelling condition did not.

This is only one of a long series of experiments that have been done in English and Japanese. Many of the reports are online and can be found at:

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