Poster F75, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
The neurobiology of prosody and sentence structure: a functional MRI study
Arianna LaCroix1, Lisa Johnson1, Nicole Blumenstein1, Sharmeen Maze2, Leslie C. Baxter2, Corianne Rogalsky1; 1Arizona State University, 2Keller Center for Imaging Innovation, Barrow Neurological Institute & St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center
Sentence comprehension requires the integration of syntactic and prosodic information, however there is no consensus regarding the neural resources supporting these processes. The present experiment explores how sentence comprehension networks are modulated by an increase in syntactic complexity with and without prosodic cues. Twenty cognitively normal, right-handed, native English speakers listened to sentences and noun lists, with half of each spoken with sentence prosody and half with word-list prosody (i.e. equal emphasis and timing for all words) during clustered-sparse sampling functional MRI (fMRI). Standard preprocessing and linear regression analyses were computed. Group-level contrasts replicate previous work: all sentences compared to all noun lists recruited left lateralized regions including anterior temporal regions (ATL), posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG), and Broca’s area. Within this network, main effects of both syntax and prosody within the sentence stimuli were observed in the left pSTG, with the prosody cluster anterior to the sentence structure cluster. A main effect of prosody was also found in Broca’s area and right pSTG. Pairwise comparisons suggest that the effect of sentence structure (i.e. noncanonical versus canonical sentences) within pSTG and Broca’s area may be modulated by the presence of prosodic cues, as word-list prosody mitigates the increased activation observed for noncanonical compared to canonical sentences. Initial single-subject results indicate substantial individual variability regarding the relative sensitivity of the ATL, pSTG, and Broca’s area to prosody and/or sentence structure. These preliminary results suggest that prosodic cues modulate the brain regions recruited during sentence comprehension, particularly as syntactic complexity increases.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax