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Brain Lang. 2014 Feb;129:58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2013.12.003. Epub 2014 Feb 19.

The role of ventromedial prefrontal cortex in text comprehension inferences: semantic coherence or socio-emotional perspective?

Author information

1
Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Buenos Aires - CONICET, Instituto de Investigaciones, Lavalle 2353 (1052), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electronic address: dburin@psi.uba.ar.
2
Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation & Department of Biostatistics -College of Public Health, University of Iowa, 100 MTP4, Room 102, Iowa City, IA 52242-5000, United States.
3
Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Iowa, 357 Medical Research Center, Iowa City, IA 52242-1101, United States; Departments of Neurology and Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States.
4
Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Iowa, Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States; Departments of Neurology and Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States.
5
Departments of Neurology and Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States.
6
Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States.

Abstract

Two hypotheses about the role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in narrative comprehension inferences, global semantic coherence versus socio-emotional perspective, were tested. Seven patients with vmPFC lesions and seven demographically matched healthy comparison participants read short narratives. Using the consistency paradigm, narratives required participants to make either an emotional or visuo-spatial inference, in which a target sentence provided consistent or inconsistent information with a previous emotional state of a character or a visuo-spatial location of an object. Healthy comparison participants made the inferences both for spatial and emotional stories, as shown by longer reading times for inconsistent critical sentences. For patients with vmPFC lesions, inconsistent sentences were read slower in the spatial stories, but not in the emotional ones. This pattern of results is compatible with the hypothesis that vmPFC contributes to narrative comprehension by supporting inferences about socio-emotional aspects of verbally described situations.

KEYWORDS:

Emotional inferences; Narrative comprehension; Spatial inferences; Text coherence; Text inferences; Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex

PMID:
24561428
PMCID:
PMC4327941
DOI:
10.1016/j.bandl.2013.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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