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Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 Feb 18;9:36. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00036. eCollection 2015.

Changes in functional connectivity within the fronto-temporal brain network induced by regular and irregular Russian verb production.

Author information

1
N.P. Bechtereva Institute of the Human Brain, Russian Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg, Russia ; Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University St. Petersburg, Russia.
2
Faculty of Philology, Higher School of Economics Moscow, Russia ; Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University St. Petersburg, Russia.
3
N.P. Bechtereva Institute of the Human Brain, Russian Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg, Russia ; Radiological Center of Tyumen Regional Oncology Center Tyumen, Russia.
4
N.P. Bechtereva Institute of the Human Brain, Russian Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg, Russia.

Abstract

Functional connectivity between brain areas involved in the processing of complex language forms remains largely unexplored. Contributing to the debate about neural mechanisms underlying regular and irregular inflectional morphology processing in the mental lexicon, we conducted an fMRI experiment in which participants generated forms from different types of Russian verbs and nouns as well as from nonce stimuli. The data were subjected to a whole brain voxel-wise analysis of context dependent changes in functional connectivity [the so-called psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis]. Unlike previously reported subtractive results that reveal functional segregation between brain areas, PPI provides complementary information showing how these areas are functionally integrated in a particular task. To date, PPI evidence on inflectional morphology has been scarce and only available for inflectionally impoverished English verbs in a same-different judgment task. Using PPI here in conjunction with a production task in an inflectionally rich language, we found that functional connectivity between the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and bilateral superior temporal gyri (STG) was significantly greater for regular real verbs than for irregular ones. Furthermore, we observed a significant positive covariance between the number of mistakes in irregular real verb trials and the increase in functional connectivity between the LIFG and the right anterior cingulate cortex in these trails, as compared to regular ones. Our results therefore allow for dissociation between regularity and processing difficulty effects. These results, on the one hand, shed new light on the functional interplay within the LIFG-bilateral STG language-related network and, on the other hand, call for partial reconsideration of some of the previous findings while stressing the role of functional temporo-frontal connectivity in complex morphological processes.

KEYWORDS:

Russian; dual-route theories; fMRI; fronto-temporal brain network; functional connectivity; inflectional morphology; psycho–physiological interactions; single-route theories

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