Neural Specificity for Grammatical Operations is Revealed by Content-Independent fMR Adaptation
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CitationShapiro, Kevin A., Lauren R. Moo, and Alfonso Caramazza. 2012. Neural specificity for grammatical operations is revealed by content-independent fMR adaptation. Frontiers in Psychology 3:26.
AbstractThe ability to generate novel sentences depends on cognitive operations that specify the syntactic function of nouns, verbs, and other words retrieved from the mental lexicon. Although neuropsychological studies suggest that such operations rely on neural circuits distinct from those encoding word form and meaning, it has not been possible to characterize this distinction definitively with neuroimaging. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that a brain area engaged in a given grammatical operation can be identified uniquely by a monotonic decrease in activation as that operation is repeated. We applied this methodology to identify areas involved selectively in the operation of inflection of nouns or verbs. By contrast, areas involved in processing word meaning do not show this monotonic adaptation across stimuli. These results are the first to demonstrate adaptation in the fMR signal evoked not by specific stimuli, but by well-defined cognitive linguistic operations.
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