Category: Brain and Language

Hearing sounds as words: Neural responses to environmental sounds in the context of fluent speech

Hearing sounds as words: Neural responses to environmental sounds in the context of fluent speech

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 51-61

Abstract
“Environmental sounds (ES) can be understood easily when substituted for words in sentences, suggesting that linguistic context benefits may be mediated by processes more general than some language-specific theories assert. However, the underlying neural processing is not understood. EEG was recorded for spoken sentences ending in either a spoken word or a corresponding ES. Endings were either congruent or incongruent with the sentence frame, and thus were expected to produce N400 activity. However, if ES and word meanings are combined with language context by different mechanisms, different N400 responses would be expected. Incongruent endings (both words and ES) elicited frontocentral negativities corresponding to the N400 typically observed to incongruent spoken words. Moreover, sentential constraint had similar effects on N400 topographies to ES and words. Comparison of speech and ES responses suggests that understanding meaning in speech context may be mediated by similar neural mechanisms for these two types of stimuli.”

Written by: Sophia Uddin, Shannon L.M. Heald, Stephen C. Van Hedger, Howard C. Nusbaum,
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.02.004

Mapping lexical-semantic networks and determining hemispheric language dominance: Do task design, sex, age, and language performance make a difference?

Mapping lexical-semantic networks and determining hemispheric language dominance: Do task design, sex, age, and language performance make a difference?

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 42-50

Abstract
“Blocked and event-related fMRI designs are both commonly used to localize language networks and determine hemispheric dominance in research and clinical settings. We compared activation profiles on a semantic monitoring task using one of the two designs in a total of 43 healthy individual to determine whether task design or subject-specific factors (i.e., age, sex, or language performance) influence activation patterns. We found high concordance between the two designs within core language regions, including the inferior frontal, posterior temporal, and basal temporal region. However, differences emerged within inferior parietal cortex. Subject-specific factors did not influence activation patterns, nor did they interact with task design. These results suggest that despite high concordance within perisylvian regions that are robust to subject-specific factors, methodological differences between blocked and event-related designs may contribute to parietal activations. These findings provide important information for researchers incorporating fMRI results into meta-analytic studies, as well as for clinicians using fMRI to guide pre-surgical planning.”

Written by: Yu-Hsuan A. Chang, Sogol S. Javadi, Naeim Bahrami, Vedang S. Uttarwar, Anny Reyes, Carrie R. McDonald
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.02.005

Representation of action semantics in the motor cortex and Broca’s area

Representation of action semantics in the motor cortex and Broca’s area

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 33-41

Abstract
“Previous studies have shown that both reading action words and observing actions engage the motor cortex and Broca’s area, but it is still controversial whether a somatotopic representation exists for action verbs within the motor cortex and whether Broca’s area encodes action-specific semantics for verbs. Here we examined these two issues using a set of functional MRI experiments, including word reading, action observation and a movement localiser task. Results from multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) showed a somatotopic organisation within the motor areas and action-specific activation in Broca’s area for observed actions, suggesting the representation of action semantics for observed actions in these neural regions. For action verbs, however, a lack of finding for the somatotopic activation argues against semantic somatotopy within the motor cortex. Furthermore, activation patterns in Broca’s area were not separable between action verbs and unrelated verbs, suggesting that Broca’s area does not encode action-specific semantics for verbs.”

Written by: Zuo Zhang, Yaoru Sun, Zijian Wang
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.02.003

The motor features of action verbs: fMRI evidence using picture naming

The motor features of action verbs: fMRI evidence using picture naming

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 22-32

Abstract
“The processing disadvantage of verbs compared to nouns and the greater vulnerability of verbs in brain damage have been ascribed to greater processing demands of morpho-syntactical or/and semantic properties for verbs, or/and visual complexity in picture-naming studies. Using picture naming, the current functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined the neural substrates underlying the semantic distinction between nouns and verbs. Under forced (externally-elicited) or free (internally-motivated) conditions, participants named a set of pictorial stimuli as objects or actions performed on/with the objects in Chinese. Use of a language with impoverished inflectional morphology (i.e., Chinese) and the same set of pictures for naming objects and actions allows for the control of both morpho-syntactical and visual confounds. The results revealed specific neural correlates for action verbs in the cortical-subcortical motor system, irrespective of the naming conditions. Plausible accounts for the motor aspects of action-verb processing were interpreted basically on a semantic basis.”

Written by: Yong Zhang, Kangcheng Wang, Chang Yue, Nina Mo, Deping Wu, Xu Wen, Jiang Qiu
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.02.002

Lexical olfaction recruits olfactory orbitofrontal cortex in metaphorical and literal contexts

Lexical olfaction recruits olfactory orbitofrontal cortex in metaphorical and literal contexts

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 11-21

Abstract
“The investigation of specific lexical categories has substantially contributed to advancing our knowledge on how meaning is neurally represented. One sensory domain that has received particularly little attention is olfaction. This study aims to investigate the neural representation of lexical olfaction. In an fMRI experiment, participants read olfactory metaphors, their literal paraphrases, and literal olfactory sentences. Regions of interest were defined by a functional localizer run of odor processing. We observed activation in secondary olfactory areas during metaphorical and literal olfactory processing, thus extending previous findings to the novel source domain of olfaction. Previously reported enhanced activation in emotion-related areas due to metaphoricity could not be replicated. Finally, no primary olfactory cortex was found active during lexical olfaction processing. We suggest that this absence is due to olfactory hedonicity being crucial to understand the meaning of the current olfactory expressions. Consequently, the processing of olfactory hedonicity recruits secondary olfactory areas.”

Written by: Jennifer Pomp, Anne-Kathrin Bestgen, Patrick Schuzle, Christina J. Müller, Francesca M.M. Citron, Boris Suchan, Lars Kuchinke
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.02.001

Sluggish dorsally-driven inhibition of return during orthographic processing in adults with dyslexia

Sluggish dorsally-driven inhibition of return during orthographic processing in adults with dyslexia

Published in: Brain and Language, Volume 179, April 2018, 1-10

Abstract
“Dyslexia (D) is a neurodevelopmental reading disorder characterized by phonological and orthographic deficits. Before phonological decoding, reading requires a specialized orthographic system for parallel letter processing that assigns letter identities to different spatial locations. The magnocellular-dorsal (MD) stream rapidly process the spatial location of visual stimuli controlling visuo-spatial attention. To investigate the visuo-spatial attention efficiency during orthographic processing, inhibition of return (IOR) was measured in adults with and without D in a lexical decision task. IOR is the delay in responding to stimuli displayed in a cued location after a long cue-target interval. Only adults with D did not showed IOR effect during letter-string recognition, despite the typical left-hemisphere specialization for word identification. A specific deficit in coherent-dot-motion perception confirmed an MD-stream disorder in adults with D. Our results suggest that adults with D might develop an efficient visual word form area, but a dorsal-attentional dysfunction impairs their reading fluency.”

Written by: S. Franceschini, S. Mascheretti, S. Bertoni, V. Trezzi, C. Andreola, S. Gori, A. Facoetti 
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2018.01.009

Skip to toolbar