Navigation Links
Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language
Date:11/21/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. When reading text or listening to someone speak, we construct rich mental models that allow us to draw conclusions about other people, objects, actions, events, mental states and contexts. This ability to understand written or spoken language, called "discourse comprehension," is a hallmark of the human mind and central to everyday social life. In a new study, researchers uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie discourse comprehension.

The study appears in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.

With his team, study leader Aron Barbey, a professor of neuroscience, of psychology, and of speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois, previously had mapped general intelligence, emotional intelligence and a host of other high-level cognitive functions. Barbey is the director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

To investigate the brain regions that underlie discourse comprehension, the researchers studied a group of 145 American male Vietnam War veterans who sustained penetrating head injuries during combat. Barbey said these shrapnel-induced injuries typically produced focal brain damage, unlike injuries caused by stroke or other neurological disorders that affect multiple regions. These focal injuries allowed the researchers to pinpoint the structures that are critically important to discourse comprehension.

"Neuropsychological patients with focal brain lesions provide a valuable opportunity to study how different brain structures contribute to discourse comprehension," Barbey said.

A technique called voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping allowed the team to pool data from the veterans' CT scans to create a collective, three-dimensional map of the cerebral cortex. They divided this composite brain into units called voxels (the three-dimensional counterparts of two-dimensional pixels). This allowed them to compare the discourse comprehension abilities of patients with damage to a particular voxel or cluster of voxels with those of patients without injuries to those brain regions.

The researchers identified a network of brain areas in the frontal and parietal cortex that are essential to discourse comprehension.

"Rather than engaging brain regions that are classically involved in language processing, our results indicate that discourse comprehension depends on an executive control network that helps integrate incoming language with prior knowledge and experience," Barbey said.

Executive control, also known as executive function, refers to the ability to plan, organize and regulate one's behavior.

"The findings help us understand the neural foundations of discourse comprehension, and suggest that core elements of discourse processing emerge from a network of brain regions that support language processing and executive functions. The findings offer new insights into basic questions about the nature of discourse comprehension," Barbey said, "and could offer new targets for clinical interventions to help patients with cognitive-communication disorders.

"Discourse comprehension is a hallmark of human social behavior," Barbey said.

"By studying the mechanisms that underlie these abilities, we're able to advance our understanding of the remarkable cognitive and neural architecture from which language comprehension emerges."


'/>"/>

Contact: Chelsey B. Coombs
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Researchers gain fuller picture of cell protein reactions
2. Scripps oceanography researchers engineer breakthrough for biofuel production
3. USF researchers show invasive sparrows immune cells sharpen as they spread
4. Researchers use CT and 3-D printers to recreate dinosaur fossils
5. Natural compound mitigates effects of methamphetamine abuse, University of Missouri researchers find
6. Researchers classify urban residential desert landscapes
7. Researchers test effects of LEDs on leaf lettuce
8. Researchers develop new approach to identify possible ecological effects of releasing genetically engineered insects
9. Researchers capture structure of key part of deadly Nipah virus
10. Researchers identify main genes responsible for asthma attacks in children
11. Northeastern researchers have discovered a new treatment to cure MRSA infection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016  BioMEMS devices deployed in hospitals ... medical screening and diagnostic applications, such as ... that facilitate and assure continuous monitoring without ... being bolstered through new opportunities offered by ... coupled with wireless connectivity and low power ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016 Technology Enhancements Accelerate Growth of X-ray Imaging ... digital and computed radiography markets in Thailand ... Indonesia (TIM). It provides an in-depth ... well as regional market drivers and restraints. The study ... and market attractiveness, both for digital and computed radiography. ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... Canada , February 1, 2016 ... technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control ... --> Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled ... gesture control market size through ... consumer electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... Florida , February 11, 2016 ... and Promote Genetic Understanding to Support Research and Discovery ... GenomeAsia 100K, today announced an ambitious plan to sequence 100,000 ... South Asian countries and at least 7 of North and ... In the first phase, the project will focus on ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Bioethics International, a not-for-profit organization focused ... developed, marketed and made accessible to patients around the world, ... had named the publication of the Good Pharma Scorecard ... is also featured as one of BMJ Open ,s ... year that are most frequently read. Ed Sucksmith ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  Dovetail Genomics™ LLC today ... beta program for a planned metagenomic genome assembly service. ... company,s metagenomic genome assembly method in a talk on ... Biology & Technology conference in Orlando, Fla. ... highly complex datasets is difficult. Using its proprietary ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group, a ... Stem Cells Network (GSCN) to distribute exosome injection and other biological products to ... Rica, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: