Time course of fMRI-activation in language and spatial networks during sentence comprehension

Neuroimage. 1999 Aug;10(2):216-24. doi: 10.1006/nimg.1999.0465.


Functional neuroimaging previously has been considered to provide inadequate temporal resolution to study changes of brain states as a function of cognitive computations; however, we have obtained evidence of differential amounts of brain activity related to high-level cognition (sentence processing) within 1.5 s of stimulus onset. The study used an event-related paradigm with high-speed echoplanar functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to trace the time course of the brain activation in the temporal and parietal regions as participants comprehended single sentences describing a spatial configuration. Within the first set of images, on average 1 s from when the participant begins to read a sentence, there was significant activation in a key cortical area involved in language comprehension (the left posterior temporal gyrus) and visuospatial processing (the left and right parietal regions). In all three areas, the amount of activation during sentence comprehension was higher for negative sentences than for their affirmative counterparts, which are linguistically less complex. The effect of negation indicates that the activation in these areas is modulated by the difficulty of the linguistic processing. These results suggest a relatively rapid coactivation in both linguistic and spatial cortical regions to support the integration of information from multiple processing streams.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Reading*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*