Navigation Links
Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language
Date:11/21/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. When reading text or listening to someone speak, we construct rich mental models that allow us to draw conclusions about other people, objects, actions, events, mental states and contexts. This ability to understand written or spoken language, called "discourse comprehension," is a hallmark of the human mind and central to everyday social life. In a new study, researchers uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie discourse comprehension.

The study appears in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.

With his team, study leader Aron Barbey, a professor of neuroscience, of psychology, and of speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois, previously had mapped general intelligence, emotional intelligence and a host of other high-level cognitive functions. Barbey is the director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

To investigate the brain regions that underlie discourse comprehension, the researchers studied a group of 145 American male Vietnam War veterans who sustained penetrating head injuries during combat. Barbey said these shrapnel-induced injuries typically produced focal brain damage, unlike injuries caused by stroke or other neurological disorders that affect multiple regions. These focal injuries allowed the researchers to pinpoint the structures that are critically important to discourse comprehension.

"Neuropsychological patients with focal brain lesions provide a valuable opportunity to study how different brain structures contribute to discourse comprehension," Barbey said.

A technique called voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping allowed the team to pool data from the veterans' CT scans to create a collective, three-dimensional map of the cerebral cortex. They divided this composite brain into units called voxels (the three-dimensional counterparts of two-dimensional pixels). This allowed them to compare the discourse comprehension abilities of patients with damage to a particular voxel or cluster of voxels with those of patients without injuries to those brain regions.

The researchers identified a network of brain areas in the frontal and parietal cortex that are essential to discourse comprehension.

"Rather than engaging brain regions that are classically involved in language processing, our results indicate that discourse comprehension depends on an executive control network that helps integrate incoming language with prior knowledge and experience," Barbey said.

Executive control, also known as executive function, refers to the ability to plan, organize and regulate one's behavior.

"The findings help us understand the neural foundations of discourse comprehension, and suggest that core elements of discourse processing emerge from a network of brain regions that support language processing and executive functions. The findings offer new insights into basic questions about the nature of discourse comprehension," Barbey said, "and could offer new targets for clinical interventions to help patients with cognitive-communication disorders.

"Discourse comprehension is a hallmark of human social behavior," Barbey said.

"By studying the mechanisms that underlie these abilities, we're able to advance our understanding of the remarkable cognitive and neural architecture from which language comprehension emerges."


'/>"/>

Contact: Chelsey B. Coombs
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Researchers gain fuller picture of cell protein reactions
2. Scripps oceanography researchers engineer breakthrough for biofuel production
3. USF researchers show invasive sparrows immune cells sharpen as they spread
4. Researchers use CT and 3-D printers to recreate dinosaur fossils
5. Natural compound mitigates effects of methamphetamine abuse, University of Missouri researchers find
6. Researchers classify urban residential desert landscapes
7. Researchers test effects of LEDs on leaf lettuce
8. Researchers develop new approach to identify possible ecological effects of releasing genetically engineered insects
9. Researchers capture structure of key part of deadly Nipah virus
10. Researchers identify main genes responsible for asthma attacks in children
11. Northeastern researchers have discovered a new treatment to cure MRSA infection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language
(Date:12/20/2016)... and GENEVA, Dec, 20, 2016   Valencell ... sensor technology, and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a ... of electronics applications, announced today the launch of ... for biometric wearables that includes ST,s compact ... Valencell,s Benchmark™ biometric sensor system. Together, SensorTile ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Biometric ... to their offering. ... The biometric vehicle access system market, in terms of value, ... to 2021. The market is estimated to be USD 442.7 Million ... The growth of the biometric vehicle access system market is fueled ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Calif. , Dec. 15, 2016   WaferGen ... publicly held genomics technology company, announced today that on ... Listing Qualifications Department of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC ... closing bid price of WaferGen,s common stock had been ... Accordingly, WaferGen has regained compliance with Listing Rule 5550(a)(2) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... January 12, 2017 , ... After her brain cancer ... gave her only a few months to live. Now a paper publishing January ... Rosendahl’s disease and increased both the quantity and quality of her life: Adding ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... and Pune, India , January 12, 2017 ... Market by Type and End Users - Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014-2022," ... 2022 from $2,921 million in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 15.07% during the ... ... Allied Market Research Logo ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Phase 1 clinical trial ... of the investigational anti-cancer agent tucatinib (formerly ONT-380) against HER2+ breast cancer. The ... percent of these heavily pretreated patients saw clinical benefit from the drug, with ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Photonics industry and STEM ... are commending the U.S. Congress and President Obama for their recognition of the ... the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). , The language of the act ...
Breaking Biology Technology: