Grammatical class modulates the (left) inferior frontal gyrus within 100 milliseconds when syntactic context is predictive


  • Strijkers Kristof
  • Chanoine Valérie C
  • Munding Dashiel
  • Dubarry Anne-Sophie
  • Trébuchon Agnès
  • Badier Jean-Michel
  • Alario F.-Xavier

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the current study set out to examine the spatiotemporal dynamics of predictive processing during syntactic processing. to do so, we conducted an MeG experiment in which we contrasted MRI-constrained sources elicited by nouns and verbs when they were preceded by a predictive syntactic context (i.e., possessive pronouns for nouns, and personal pronouns for verbs) versus a non-predictive syntactic context (visually matched symbols). The results showed rapid (from ~80 ms onwards) noun-verb differences in the left and (to a lesser extent) right inferior frontal gyri (IFG), but only when those nouns and verbs were preceded by the syntactically predictive context (i.e. their corresponding pronoun). Furthermore, the contrast between possessive and personal pronouns that preceded the rapid noun-verb modulations in the (L)IFG also produced differences in source activation in various regions of the prefrontal cortex (the superior frontal and orbitofrontal cortex). We suggest the data show that syntactic unification manifests very early on during processing in the LIFG. The speed of such syntactic unification operations is hypothesized to be driven by predictive top-down activations stemming from a domain-general network in the prefrontal cortex.

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