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Neuroimage. 2004 Jan;21(1):112-24.

Imagery in sentence comprehension: an fMRI study.

Author information

1
Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, 15213, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. just@cmu.edu

Abstract

This study examined brain activation while participants read or listened to high-imagery sentences like The number eight when rotated 90 degrees looks like a pair of spectacles or low-imagery sentences, and judged them as true or false. The sentence imagery manipulation affected the activation in regions (particularly, the intraparietal sulcus) that activate in other mental imagery tasks, such as mental rotation. Both the auditory and visual presentation experiments indicated activation of the intraparietal sulcus area in the high-imagery condition, suggesting a common neural substrate for language-evoked imagery that is independent of the input modality. In addition to exhibiting greater activation levels during the processing of high-imagery sentences, the left intraparietal sulcus also showed greater functional connectivity in this condition with other cortical regions, particularly language processing regions, regardless of the input modality. The comprehension of abstract, nonimaginal information in low-imagery sentences was accompanied by additional activation in regions in the left superior and middle temporal areas associated with the retrieval and processing of semantic and world knowledge. In addition to exhibiting greater activation levels during the processing of low-imagery sentences, this left temporal region also revealed greater functional connectivity in this condition with other left hemisphere language processing regions and with prefrontal regions, regardless of the input modality. The findings indicate that sentence comprehension can activate additional cortical regions that process information that is not specifically linguistic but varies with the information content of the sentence (such as visual or abstract information). In particular, the left intraparietal sulcus area appears to be centrally involved in processing the visual imagery that a sentence can evoke, while activating in synchrony with some core language processing regions.

PMID:
14741648
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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