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Neuroimage. 2004 Apr;21(4):1320-36.

Neural correlates of syntactic movement: converging evidence from two fMRI experiments.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. michal@white.stanford.edu

Abstract

This paper studies neural processes of sentence comprehension, focusing on a specific syntactic operation-syntactic movement. We describe two fMRI experiments that manipulate this particular syntactic component. The sentences in each of the experiments are different, yet the structural contrast in both is syntactically identical, comparing movement and no-movement sentences. Two distinct Hebrew constructions, topicalization and wh-questions, were presented in an auditory comprehension task and compared to carefully matched baseline sentences. We show that both contrasts, presented in an auditory comprehension task, yield comparable activations in a consistent set of brain regions, including left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), left ventral precentral sulcus (vPCS), and bilateral posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). Furthermore, we show that these regions are not sensitive to two other syntactic contrasts. The results, considered in the context of previous imaging and lesion studies, suggest that the processing of syntactic movement involves a consistent set of brain regions, regardless of the superficial properties of the sentences at issue, and irrespective of task.

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