Language Universals Engage Broca's Area

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Language Universals Engage Broca's Area

Citable link to this page


Title: Language Universals Engage Broca's Area
Author: Berent, Iris; Pan, Hong; Zhao, Xu; Epstein, Jane; Bennett, Monica L.; Deshpande, Vibhas; Seethamraju, Ravi Teja; Stern, Emily

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Berent, Iris, Hong Pan, Xu Zhao, Jane Epstein, Monica L. Bennett, Vibhas Deshpande, Ravi Teja Seethamraju, and Emily Stern. 2014. “Language Universals Engage Broca's Area.” PLoS ONE 9 (4): e95155. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095155.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: It is well known that natural languages share certain aspects of their design. For example, across languages, syllables like blif are preferred to lbif. But whether language universals are myths or mentally active constraints—linguistic or otherwise—remains controversial. To address this question, we used fMRI to investigate brain response to four syllable types, arrayed on their linguistic well-formedness (e.g., blif≻bnif≻bdif≻lbif, where ≻ indicates preference). Results showed that syllable structure monotonically modulated hemodynamic response in Broca's area, and its pattern mirrored participants' behavioral preferences. In contrast, ill-formed syllables did not systematically tax sensorimotor regions—while such syllables engaged primary auditory cortex, they tended to deactivate (rather than engage) articulatory motor regions. The convergence between the cross-linguistic preferences and English participants' hemodynamic and behavioral responses is remarkable given that most of these syllables are unattested in their language. We conclude that human brains encode broad restrictions on syllable structure.
Published Version: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095155
Other Sources:
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at
Citable link to this page:
Downloads of this work:

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


Search DASH

Advanced Search