Language is experienced primarily through one of two mediums - spoken words and written text. Although substantially different in form, these two linguistic vehicles possess similar powers of expression. Consequently, one goal for the cognitive neuroscience of language is to determine where, if anywhere, along the neural path from sensory stimulation to ultimate comprehension these two processing streams converge. In the present study, we investigate the relationship between basic combinatorial operations in both reading and listening. Using magnetoencephalography, we measured neural activity elicited by the comprehension of simple adjective-noun phrases (red boat) using the same linguistic materials and tasks in both modalities. The present paradigm deviates from previous cross-modality studies by investigating only basic combinatorial mechanisms - specifically, those evoked by the construction of simple adjective-noun phrases. Our results indicate that both modalities rely upon shared neural mechanisms localized to the left anterior temporal lobe (lATL) and left angular gyrus (lAG) during such processing. Furthermore, we found that combinatorial mechanisms subserved by these regions are deployed in the same temporal order within each modality, with lATL activity preceding lAG activity. Modality-specific combinatorial effects were identified during initial perceptual processing, suggesting top-down modulation of low-level mechanisms even during basic composition.
- basic combinatorics
- minimal phrases
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience