White matter pathways for prosodic structure building: A case study

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Abstract

The relevance of left dorsal and ventral fiber pathways for syntactic and semantic comprehension is well established, while pathways for prosody are little explored. The present study examined linguistic prosodic structure building in a patient whose right arcuate/superior longitudinal fascicles and posterior corpus callosum were transiently compromised by a vasogenic peritumoral edema. Compared to ten matched healthy controls, the patient’s ability to detect irregular prosodic structure significantly improved between pre- and post-surgical assessment. This recovery was accompanied by an increase in average fractional anisotropy (FA) in right dorsal and posterior transcallosal fiber tracts. Neither general cognitive abilities nor (non-prosodic) syntactic comprehension nor FA in right ventral and left dorsal fiber tracts showed a similar pre-post increase. Together, these findings suggest a contribution of right dorsal and inter-hemispheric pathways to prosody perception, including the right-dorsal tracking and structuring of prosodic pitch contours that is transcallosally informed by concurrent syntactic information.

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