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A time and place for language comprehension: mapping the N400 and the P600 to a minimal cortical network

Brouwer, H. & Hoeks, J. C. J., 12-Nov-2013, In : Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7, 12 p., 758.

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We propose a new functional-anatomical mapping of the N400 and the P600 to a minimal cortical network for language comprehension. Our work is an example of a recent research strategy in cognitive neuroscience, where researchers attempt to align data regarding the nature and time-course of cognitive processing (from ERPs) with data on the cortical organization underlying it (from fMRI). The success of this "alignment" approach critically depends on the functional interpretation of relevant ERP components. Models of language processing that have been proposed thus far do not agree on these interpretations, and present a variety of complicated functional architectures. We put forward a very basic functional-anatomical mapping based on the recently developed Retrieval-Integration account of language comprehension (Brouwer et al., 2012). In this mapping, the left posterior part of the Middle Temporal Gyrus (BA 21) serves as an epicenter (or hub) in a neurocognitive network for the retrieval of word meaning, the ease of which is reflected in N400 amplitude. The left Inferior Frontal Gyrus (BA 44/45/47), in turn, serves a network epicenter for the integration of this retrieved meaning with the word's preceding context, into a mental representation of what is being communicated; these semantic and pragmatic integrative processes are reflected in P600 amplitude. We propose that our mapping describes the core of the language comprehension network, a view that is parsimonious, has broad empirical coverage, and can serve as the starting point for a more focused investigation into the coupling of brain anatomy and electrophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number758
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume7
Publication statusPublished - 12-Nov-2013

    Keywords

  • ERPs, language comprehension, N400, P600, anatomy, VERBAL WORKING-MEMORY, SENTENCE COMPREHENSION, SEMANTIC MEMORY, NEUROCOGNITIVE NETWORKS, COGNITIVE CONTROL, BROCAS REGION, NEURAL BASIS, HUMAN BRAIN, LEVEL, VIOLATIONS

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