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Brain Lang. 1996 Mar;52(3):452-73.

Localization of syntactic comprehension by positron emission tomography.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.

Abstract

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) was used to determine regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) when eight normal right-handed males read and made acceptability judgments about sentences. rCBF was greater in Broca's area (particularly in the pars opercularis) when subjects judged the semantic plausibility of syntactically more complex sentences as compared to syntactically less complex sentences. rCBF was greater in left perisylvian language areas when subjects had to decide whether sentences were semantically plausible than when subjects had to decide whether syntactically identical sentences contained a nonsense word. The results of this experiment suggest that overall sentence processing occurs in regions of the left perisylvian association cortex. The results also provide evidence that one particular aspect of sentence processing (the process that corresponds to the greater difficulty of comprehending center-embedded than right-branching relative clause sentences) is centered in the pars opercularis of Broca's area. This process is likely to be related to the greater memory load associated with processing center-embedded sentences.

PMID:
8653390
DOI:
10.1006/brln.1996.0024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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