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Anatomy of word and sentence meaning

By Michael I. Posner and Antonella Pavese


Reading and listening involve complex psychological processes that recruit many brain areas. The anatomy of processing English words has been studied by a variety of imaging methods. Although there is widespread agreement on the general anatomical areas involved in comprehending words, there are still disputes about the computations that go on in these areas. Examination of the time relations (circuitry) among these anatomical areas can aid in under-standing their computations. In this paper we concentrate on tasks which involve obtaining the meaning of a word in isolation or in relation to a sentence. Our current data support a finding in the literature that frontal semantic areas are active well before posterior areas. We use the subject’s attention to amplify relevant brain areas involved either in semantic classification or in judging the relation of the word to a sentence in order to test the hypothesis that frontal areas are concerned with lexical semantics while posterior areas are more involved in comprehension of propositions that involve several words

Topics: Behavioral Neuroscience, Brain Imaging, Cognitive Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Psycholinguistics
Year: 1998
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