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Brain Sci. 2013, 3(3), 1198-1214; doi:10.3390/brainsci3031198

Neural Correlates of Processing Passive Sentences

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Center for the Neurobiology of Language, Northwestern University, Francis Searle Building, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
Department of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University, Webb Building, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Sagol School of Neuroscience, Webb Building, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 320 E. Superior, Searle 11-453, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Department of Neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Abbott Hall, 11th Floor, 710 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 May 2013 / Revised: 16 July 2013 / Accepted: 19 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain and Language)
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Previous research has shown that comprehension of complex sentences involving wh-movement (e.g., object-relative clauses) elicits activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and left posterior temporal cortex. However, relatively little is known about the neural correlates of processing passive sentences, which differ from other complex sentences in terms of representation (i.e., noun phrase (NP)-movement) and processing (i.e., the time course of syntactic reanalysis). In the present study, 27 adults (14 younger and 13 older) listened to passive and active sentences and performed a sentence-picture verification task using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Passive sentences, relative to active sentences, elicited greater activation in bilateral IFG and left temporo-occipital regions. Participant age did not significantly affect patterns of activation. Consistent with previous research, activation in left temporo-occipital cortex likely reflects thematic reanalysis processes, whereas, activation in the left IFG supports processing of complex syntax (i.e., NP-movement). Right IFG activation may reflect syntactic reanalysis processing demands associated with the sentence-picture verification task.
Keywords: fMRI; sentence processing; syntactic processing; thematic processing fMRI; sentence processing; syntactic processing; thematic processing
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mack, J.E.; Meltzer-Asscher, A.; Barbieri, E.; Thompson, C.K. Neural Correlates of Processing Passive Sentences. Brain Sci. 2013, 3, 1198-1214.

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