Poster F68, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Tracing the interplay between syntactic and lexical features: fMRI evidence from agreement comprehension.
Ileana Quinones1, Nicola Molinaro1,2, Horacio Barber3, Manuel Carreiras1,2,4; 1Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Donostia, Spain, 2IKERBASQUE. Basque Foundation for Science. Bilbao, Spain, 3Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, 4University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU. Bilbao, Spain
In the current study, we combined fmri and DTI data to evaluate how formal and lexical cues impact on how the brain establishes grammatical relations. We used the Spanish gender agreement system, which makes it possible to manipulate two different factors: the agreement between different sentence constituents (i.e., by contrasting a congruent versus incongruent determiner-noun pairs) and the formal and/or lexical information embedded in the noun (i.e., by contrasting nouns with informative versus uninformative terminations). Our findings point out that a specific left-lateralized perisylvian circuit responds according to the agreement congruency. But, crucially, these data illustrated how our brain is sensitive to formal gender-to-ending cues during the computation of determiner-noun agreement relations. When the gender marking is informative, both formal and lexical information are used to establish grammatical relations. In contrast, when no formal cues are available, gender information is retrieved from the lexicon. These processes seem to be mediated by a functional coupling between the posterior part of the MTG/STG, the pars triangularis within the IFG and the hippocampus. In addition, parietal areas seem to be critical for the processing of opaque nouns: activity in these cortical regions could mediate the fronto-temporal loop thus enhancing the integration of different information sources. These results build upon the previous neuro-anatomical models proposed in the context of both gender processing and sentence comprehension. But, more importantly, they break down the deep-rooted idea that the left perisylvian circuit underpins sentence comprehension.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax