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The role of domain-general frontal systems in language comprehension:  Evidence from dual-task interference and semantic ambiguity.
University College London.
Queen’s University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7810-1333
MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
2010 (English)In: Brain and Language, ISSN 0093-934X, E-ISSN 1090-2155, Vol. 115, no 3, 182-188 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Neuroimaging studies have shown that the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) plays a critical role in semantic and syntactic aspects of speech comprehension. It appears to be recruited when listeners are required to select the appropriate meaning or syntactic role for words within a sentence. However, this region is also recruited during tasks not involving sentence materials, suggesting that the systems involved in processing ambiguous words within sentences are also recruited for more domain-general tasks that involve the selection of task-relevant information. We use a novel dual-task methodology to assess whether the cognitive system(s) that are engaged in selecting word meanings are also involved in non-sentential tasks. In Experiment 1, listeners were slower to decide whether a visually presented letter is in upper or lower case when the sentence that they are simultaneously listening to contains words with multiple meanings (homophones), compared to closely matched sentences without homophones. Experiment 2 indicates that this interference effect is not tied to the occurrence of the homophone itself, but rather occurs when listeners must reinterpret a sentence that was initially misparsed. These results suggest some overlap between the cognitive system involved in semantic disambiguation and the domain-general process of response selection required for the case-judgement task. This cognitive overlap may reflect neural overlap in the networks supporting these processes, and is consistent with the proposal that domain-general selection processes in inferior frontal regions are critical for language comprehension.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 115, no 3, 182-188 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-78202DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2010.07.005OAI: diva2:531706
Available from: 2012-06-07 Created: 2012-06-07 Last updated: 2015-04-16

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Johnsrude, Ingrid
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Brain and Language

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