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Syntactic Reconstruction and Reanalysis, Semantic Dead Ends, and Prefrontal Cortex

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  • Department of English
The left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) is crucially has been found to be involved in syntactic processing of various kinds. This study investigates the cortical effects of two types of syntactic processes: (i) Reconstruction in ellipsis (recovery of left-out material given by context, More people have been to Paris than […] to Oslo), using pseudo-elliptical structures (‘dead ends’) as control (More people have been to Paris than I have). (ii) Reanalysis in the face of structural ambiguity in syntactic ‘garden paths’, where the parser initially assigns an incorrect structure and is forced to reanalyze. Reanalysis and reconstruction require additional syntactic processing and were predicted to increase activation in areas otherwise involved in structural computation: LIFG (BA 44, 45), premotor BA 6, and posterior temporal BA 21, 22. This was borne out. The results showed an interaction effect of the types of construction in all three areas reflecting syntactic processing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and Cognition
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • syntax, parsing, brain science, semantics, structure-dependence, garden path, ellipsis, language, language comprehension, fMRI, neurolinguistics, grammar, structural ambiguity

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