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Brain Lang. 2004 May;89(2):300-11.

On the neurobiological investigation of language understanding in context.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, and Committee on Computational Neuroscience, Brain Research Imaging Center, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC-2030, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


There are two significant problems in using functional neuroimaging methods to study language. Improving the state of functional brain imaging will depend on understanding how the dependent measure of brain imaging differs from behavioral dependent measures (the "dependent measure problem") and how the activation of the motor system may be confounded with non-motor aspects of processing in certain experimental designs (the "motor output problem"). To address these problems, it may be necessary to shift the focus of language research from the study of linguistic competence to the understanding of language use. This will require investigations of language processing in full multi-modal and environmental context, monitoring of natural behaviors, novel experimental design, and network-based analysis. Such a combined naturalistic approach could lead to tremendous new insights into language and the brain.

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