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ERIC Number: EJ956882
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0093-934X
Prominence vs. Aboutness in Sequencing: A Functional Distinction within the Left Inferior Frontal Gyrus
Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina; Grewe, Tanja; Schlesewsky, Matthias
Brain and Language, v120 n2 p96-107 Feb 2012
Prior research on the neural bases of syntactic comprehension suggests that activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (lIFG) correlates with the processing of word order variations. However, there are inconsistencies with respect to the specific subregion within the IFG that is implicated by these findings: the pars opercularis or the pars triangularis. Here, we examined the hypothesis that the dissociation between pars opercularis and pars triangularis activation may reflect functional differences between clause-medial and clause-initial word order permutations, respectively. To this end, we directly compared clause-medial and clause-initial object-before-subject orders in German in a within-participants, event-related fMRI design. Our results showed increased activation for object-initial sentences in a bilateral network of frontal, temporal and subcortical regions. Within the lIFG, posterior and inferior subregions showed only a main effect of word order, whereas more anterior and superior subregions showed effects of word order and sentence type, with higher activation for sentences with an argument in the clause-initial position. These findings are interpreted as evidence for a functional gradation of sequence processing within the left IFG: posterior subportions correlate with argument prominence-based (local) aspects of sequencing, while anterior subportions correlate with aboutness-based aspects of sequencing, which are crucial in linking the current sentence to the wider discourse. This proposal appears compatible with more general hypotheses about information processing gradients in prefrontal cortex (Koechlin & Summerfield, 2007). (Contains 5 tables and 3 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany