The Neurology of Negation: fMRI, ERP, and Aphasia

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This chapter provides an overview of psycho- and neurolinguistic studies on negation with healthy adult speakers, as well as studies on patients with focal brain damage. Semantically, negation inverts the truth value and the direction of entailment, and it is associated with a more complex syntactic structure (section 1). Behavioral evidence shows that negative sentences are associated with increased complexity and processing load (section 2). In the ERP data, an unlicensed negative polarity item (NPI) elicits an N400, due to semantic integration cost, whereas a positive one (PPI) elicits a P600, due to structural reanalysis or pragmatic discourse processing. Neuroimaging studies with fMRI (section 4) have shown that while positive polarity engages the temporo-parietal region, the syntactic complexity of negation increases activation in promoter cortex (BA 6), not in Broca’s area – which converges with the evidence showing that negation is relatively spared in Broca’s aphasia (section 5).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Negation
EditorsViviane Deprez, Teresa Espinal
Place of publicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication year25 Mar 2020
ISBN (print)9780198830528
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • Language, Negation, Syntax, Semantics, Brain, language processing, Agrammatism, Parsing, fMRI, ERP, Aphasia, Syntactic movement, Default mode network, wh-movement

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