A functional MRI analysis of comprehension processes of Japanese sentences

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WE tried to identify the mechanisms directly related to syntactic processing in an fMRI experiment using strictly controlled sets of verbal stimuli. In two conditions, center-embedding and left-branching conditions, the same sets of words were used to construct stimulus sentences, while only the word order reflecting their syntactic structure was different. The subject's task was to understand the relationship among three characters mentioned in the sentences. A difference of activation in Broca's area (BA44 and 45) between the two conditions was found. This result suggests that these areas are involved in syntax-related processing. Furthermore, it was suggested that the posterior part of the frontal lobe (BA6/9) and the inferior parietal area (BA39/40) are involved in the understanding of the relationship among the three characters mentioned in each sentence.

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