Language-Invariant Verb Processing Regions in Spanish-English Bilinguals
Willms, Joanna L.
Shapiro, Kevin A.
Peelen, Marius V.
Pajtas, Petra E.
Moo, Lauren R.
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CitationWillms, Joanna L., Kevin A. Shapiro, Marius V. Peelen, Petra E. Pajtas, Albert Costa, Lauren R. Moo, and Alfonso Caramazza. 2011. “Language-Invariant Verb Processing Regions in Spanish–English Bilinguals.” NeuroImage 57 (1): 251–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.04.021.
AbstractNouns and verbs are fundamental grammatical building blocks of all languages. Studies of brain-damaged patients and healthy individuals have demonstrated that verb processing can be dissociated from noun processing at a neuroanatomical level. In cases where bilingual patients have a noun or verb deficit, the deficit has been observed in both languages. This suggests that the noun-verb distinction may be based on neural components that are common across languages. Here we investigated the cortical organization of grammatical categories in healthy, early Spanish-English bilinguals using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a morphophonological alternation task. Four regions showed greater activity for verbs than for nouns in both languages: left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LMTG), left middle frontal gyrus (LMFG), pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), and right middle occipital gyrus (RMOG); no regions showed greater activation for nouns. Multi-voxel pattern analysis within verb-specific regions showed indistinguishable activity patterns for English and Spanish, indicating language-invariant bilingual processing. In LMTG and LMFG, patterns were more similar within than across grammatical category, both within and across languages, indicating language-invariant grammatical class information. These results suggest that the neural substrates underlying verb-specific processing are largely independent of language in bilinguals, both at the macroscopic neuroanatomical level and at the level of voxel activity patterns.
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