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Hum Brain Mapp. 2004 Oct;23(2):85-98.

Question/statement judgments: an fMRI study of intonation processing.

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  • 1Neuropsychology Laboratory and MGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


We examined changes in fMRI BOLD signal associated with question/statement judgments in an event-related paradigm to investigate the neural basis of processing one aspect of intonation. Subjects made judgments about digitized recordings of three types of utterances: questions with rising intonation (RQ; e.g., "She was talking to her father?"), statements with a falling intonation (FS; e.g., "She was talking to her father."), and questions with a falling intonation and a word order change (FQ; e.g., "Was she talking to her father?"). Functional echo planar imaging (EPI) scans were collected from 11 normal subjects. There was increased BOLD activity in bilateral inferior frontal and temporal regions for RQ over either FQ or FS stimuli. The study provides data relevant to the location of regions responsive to intonationally marked illocutionary differences between questions and statements.

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