Brain activation in discourse comprehension: A 3t fMRI study

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To date a very small number of functional neuroimaging studies have specifically examined the effects of story coherence on brain activation using long narratives, a procedure fundamental to the study of global coherence. These studies, however, not only yielded notably divergent results, but also featured a number of caveats. It is the purpose of the present study to try to overcome some of these limitations. A left precuneus/posterior cingulate activation related to global coherence comprehension was in consonance with a part of previous literature. However, our most important results corresponded to left parietal regions (angular gyrus, BA 39), this diverging from the previous studies. Recent developments of the situational models of narrative comprehension could explain all these apparently inconsistent results. According to these, different situation models would be created as a function of the content of the narratives, which would yield in turn different patterns of brain activity. Our data also suggest that the same content might also give place to different situation models as a function of the degree of global coherence achieved by the reader or listener.

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