Linguistic Complexity, Speech Production, and Comprehension in Parkinson’s Disease: Behavioral and Physiological Indices
Conclusions: These findings provide a novel window into the speech deficits associated with PD by examining performance on longer, sentence-level utterances in contrast to earlier investigations of single-word or nonword productions. Speech motor control processes and language comprehension were adversely affected in the majority of our participants with mild to moderate PD compared to the control group. Finally, increased syntactic complexity and sentence length affected both the healthy aging and PD groups’ speech production performance at the behavioral and kinematic levels.
Brain activation for language dual-tasking: Listening to two people speak at the same time and a change in network timing
The study used fMRI to investigate brain activation in participants who were able to listen to and successfully comprehend two people speaking at the same time (dual-tasking). The study identified brain mechanisms associated with high-level, concurrent dual-tasking, as compared with comprehending a single message. Results showed an increase in the functional connectivity among areas of the language network in the dual task. The increase in synchronization of brain activation for dual-tasking was brought about primarily by a change in the timing of left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) activation relative to posterior temporal activation, bringing the LIFG activation into closer correspondence with temporal activation. The results show that the change in LIFG timing was greater in participants with lower working memory capacity, and that recruitment of additional activation in the dual-task occurred only in the areas adjacent to the language network that was activated in the single task. The shift in LIFG activation may be a brain marker of how the brain adapts to high-level dual-tasking. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
from Human Brain Mapping
A primary focus within neuroimaging research on language comprehension is on the distribution of semantic knowledge in the brain. Studies have shown that the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LPMT), a region just anterior to area MT/V5, is important for the processing of complex action knowledge. It has also been found that motion verbs cause activation in LPMT. In this experiment we investigated whether this effect could be replicated in a setting resembling real life language comprehension, i.e. without any overt behavioral task during passive listening to a story. During fMRI participants listened to a recording of the story “The Ugly Duckling”. We incorporated a nuisance elimination regression approach for factoring out known nuisance variables both in terms of physiological noise, sound intensity, linguistic variables and emotional content. Compared to the remaining text, clauses containing motion verbs were accompanied by a robust activation of LPMT with no other significant effects, consistent with the hypothesis that this brain region is important for processing motion knowledge, even during naturalistic language comprehension conditions.
from Brain and Language
Normal language acquisition is a process that unfolds with amazing speed primarily in the first years of life. However, the refinement of linguistic proficiency is an ongoing process, extending well into childhood and adolescence. An increase in lateralization and a more focussed productive language network have been suggested to be the neural correlates of this process. However, the processes underlying the refinement of language comprehension are less clear. Using a language comprehension (Beep Stories) and a language production (Vowel Identification) task in fMRI, we studied language representation and lateralization in 36 children, adolescents, and young adults (age 6–24 years). For the language comprehension network, we found a more focal activation with age in the bilateral superior temporal gyri. No significant increase of lateralization with age could be observed, so the neural basis of language comprehension as assessed with the Beep Stories task seems to be established in a bilateral network by late childhood. For the productive network, however, we could confirm an increase with age both in focus and lateralization. Only in the language comprehension task did verbal IQ correlate with lateralization, with higher verbal IQ being associated with more right-hemispheric involvement. In some subjects (24%), language comprehension and language production were lateralized to opposite hemispheres.
from Brain and Language
In language processing, the relative contribution of early sensory and higher cognitive brain areas is still an open issue. A recent controversial hypothesis proposes that sensory cortices show sensitivity to syntactic processes, whereas other studies suggest a wider neural network outside sensory regions. The goal of the current event-related fMRI study is to clarify the contribution of sensory cortices in auditory syntactic processing in a 2 × 2 design. Two-word utterances were presented auditorily and varied both in perceptual markedness (presence or absence of an overt word category marking “-t”), and in grammaticality (syntactically correct or incorrect). A multivariate pattern classification approach was applied to the data, flanked by conventional cognitive subtraction analyses. The combination of methods and the 2 × 2 design revealed a clear picture: The cognitive subtraction analysis found initial syntactic processing signatures in a neural network including the left IFG, the left aSTG, the left superior temporal sulcus (STS), as well as the right STS/STG. Classification of local multivariate patterns indicated the left-hemispheric regions in IFG, aSTG, and STS to be more syntax-specific than the right-hemispheric regions. Importantly, auditory sensory cortices were only sensitive to the overt perceptual marking, but not to the grammaticality, speaking against syntax-inflicted sensory cortex modulations. Instead, our data provide clear evidence for a distinction between regions involved in pure perceptual processes and regions involved in initial syntactic processes. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
from Human Brain Mapping
Linguistic difficulties in children and adolescents after acquired brain injury: A retrospective study
This study confirms that word retrieval is an area of deficit in many children with acquired brain injuries one year or more after the injury occurred. The study also indicates that children with TBI may have persistent deficits in comprehension of both vocabulary and grammar.<p><p>from the <a href=”Journal” _mce_href=”http://iospress.metapress.com/content/p01087313126v551/”><em>Journal”>http://iospress.metapress.com/content/p01087313126v551/”><em>Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine</em></a></p>
Neural correlates of language comprehension in autism spectrum disorders: When language conflicts with world knowledge
In individuals with ASD, difficulties with language comprehension are most evident when higher-level semantic-pragmatic language processing is required, for instance when context has to be used to interpret the meaning of an utterance. Until now, it is unclear at what level of processing and for what type of context these difficulties in language comprehension occur. Therefore, in the current fMRI study, we investigated the neural correlates of the integration of contextual information during auditory language comprehension in 24 adults with ASD and 24 matched control participants. Different levels of context processing were manipulated by using spoken sentences that were correct or contained either a semantic or world knowledge anomaly. Our findings demonstrated significant differences between the groups in inferior frontal cortex that were only present for sentences with a world knowledge anomaly. Relative to the ASD group, the control group showed significantly increased activation in left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) for sentences with a world knowledge anomaly compared to correct sentences. This effect possibly indicates reduced integrative capacities of the ASD group. Furthermore, world knowledge anomalies elicited significantly stronger activation in right inferior frontal gyrus (RIFG) in the control group compared to the ASD group. This additional RIFG activation probably reflects revision of the situation model after new, conflicting information. The lack of recruitment of RIFG is possibly related to difficulties with exception handling in the ASD group.
Effects of language comprehension on visual processing have been extensively studied within the embodied-language framework. However, it is unknown whether these effects are caused by passive repetition suppression in visual processing areas, or depend on active feedback, based on partial input, from prefrontal regions. Based on a model of top-down feedback during visual recognition, we predicted diminished effects when low-spatial frequencies were removed from targets. We compared low-pass and high-pass filtered pictures in a sentence-picture-verification task. Target pictures matched or mismatched the implied shape of an object mentioned in a preceding sentence, or were unrelated to the sentences. As predicted, there was a large match advantage when the targets contained low-spatial frequencies, but no effect of linguistic context when these frequencies were filtered out. The proposed top-down feedback model is superior to repetition suppression in explaining the current results, as well as earlier results as well as about the lateralization of this effect, and peculiar color match effects. We discuss these findings in the context of recent general proposals of prediction and top-down feedback.
from Brain Research
Bilinguals have been shown to outperform monolinguals at suppressing task-irrelevant information. The present study aimed to identify how processing linguistic ambiguity during auditory comprehension may be associated with inhibitory control. Monolinguals and bilinguals listened to words in their native language (English) and identified them among four pictures while their eye-movements were tracked. Each target picture (e.g., hamper) appeared together with a similar-sounding within-language competitor picture (e.g., hammer) and two neutral pictures. Following each eye-tracking trial, priming probe trials indexed residual activation of target words, and residual inhibition of competitor words. Eye-tracking showed similar within-language competition across groups; priming showed stronger competitor inhibition in monolinguals than in bilinguals, suggesting differences in how inhibitory control was used to resolve within-language competition. Notably, correlation analyses revealed that inhibition performance on a nonlinguistic Stroop task was related to linguistic competition resolution in bilinguals but not in monolinguals. Together, monolingual-bilingual comparisons suggest that cognitive control mechanisms can be shaped by linguistic experience.
Listening to the sound of silence: Investigating the consequences of disfluent silent pauses in speech for listeners
Silent pauses are a common form of disfluency in speech yet little attention has been paid to them in the psycholinguistic literature. The present paper investigates the consequences of such silences for listeners, using an Event-Related Potential (ERP) paradigm. Participants heard utterances ending in predictable or unpredictable words, some of which included a disfluent silence before the target. In common with previous findings using er disfluencies, the N400 difference between predictable and unpredictable words was attenuated for the utterances that included silent pauses, suggesting a reduction in the relative processing benefit for predictable words. An earlier relative negativity, topographically distinct from the N400 effect and identifiable as a Phonological Mismatch Negativity (PMN), was found for fluent utterances only. This suggests that only in the fluent condition did participants perceive the phonology of unpredictable words to mismatch with their expectations. By contrast, for disfluent utterances only, unpredictable words gave rise to a late left frontal positivity, an effect previously observed following er s and disfluent repetitions. We suggest that this effect reflects the engagement of working memory processes that occurs when fluent speech is resumed. Using a surprise recognition memory test, we also show that listeners were more likely to recognise words which had been encountered after silent pauses, demonstrating that silence affects not only the process of language comprehension but also its eventual outcome. We argue that, from a listener’s perspective, one critical feature of disfluency is the temporal delay which it adds to the speech signal.