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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Apr;46(5):1371-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.12.020. Epub 2007 Dec 28.

Broca's area plays a role in syntactic processing during Chinese reading comprehension.

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Department of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.


Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (ER-fMRI) was adopted to examine brain activation of syntactic processing in reading logographic Chinese. While fMRI data were obtained, 15 readers of Chinese read individually presented sentences and performed semantic congruency judgments on three kinds of sentences: Congruous sentences (CON), sentences with a semantic violation (SEM), and sentences with both semantic and syntactic violations (SEM+SYN). The two types of incongruous sentences were matched in the degree of semantic plausibility. Three brain regions were identified showing significantly different levels of percent signal change across the three conditions, including BA44 in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and both BA9 and BA10/46 in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Furthermore, the mean percent signal change in the left BA44 observed in the SEM+SYN condition was significantly stronger than that in either the SEM or the CON condition, while the latter two conditions were at a similar level, implying an important role of this area in Chinese syntactic processing. These results, in conjunction with those found in alphabetic scripts, suggest that there are some common neural substrates underlie syntactic processing across distinctive writing systems such as the logographic Chinese and the alphabetic English.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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