Processing of syntactic information monitored by brain surface current density mapping based on MEG

Brain Topogr. 1999 Winter;12(2):75-87. doi: 10.1023/a:1023442426799.


The cortical network subserving language processing is likely to exhibit a high spatial and temporal complexity. Studies using brain imaging methods, like fMRI or PET, succeeded in identifying a number of brain structures that seem to contribute to the processing of syntactic structures, while their dynamic interaction remains unclear due to the low temporal resolution of the methods. On the other hand, ERP studies have revealed a great deal of the temporal dimension of language processing without being able to provide more than very coarse information on the localisation of the underlying generators. MEG has a temporal resolution similar to EEG combined with a better spatial resolution. In this paper, Brain Surface Current Density (BSCD) mapping in a standard brain model was used to identify statistically significant differences between the activity of certain brain regions due to syntactically correct and incorrect auditory language input. The results show that the activity in the first 600 ms after violation onset is mainly concentrated in the temporal cortex and the adjacent frontal and parietal areas of both hemispheres. The statistical analysis reveals significantly different activity mainly in both frontal and temporal cortices. For longer latencies above 250 ms, the differential activity is more prominent in the right hemisphere. These findings confirm other recent results that suggest right hemisphere involvement in auditory language processing. One interpretation might be that right hemisphere regions play an important role in repair and re-analysis processes in order to free the specialised left hemisphere language areas for processing further input.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Tests
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Models, Neurological
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*