Localization of early syntactic processes in frontal and temporal cortical areas: a magnetoencephalographic study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2000 Sep;11(1):1-11. doi: 10.1002/1097-0193(200009)11:1<1::aid-hbm10>3.0.co;2-b.


Previous electrophysiological studies had found an early anterior negativity often with a maximum over the left hemisphere to correlate with the early detection of an error in the syntactic structure of a sentence. In this paper, the cortical structures involved in such early syntactic parsing processes were localized using MEG. Subjects were presented with acoustic sentences and asked to judge their syntactic correctness. The subjects' brain responses to syntactic violations were recorded with a 148-channel whole-head magnetometer. Dipole source localization was performed using a realistically shaped standard volume conductor model with fMRI constraints. The results show that the early syntactic parsing processes are supported by temporal regions, possibly the planum polare, as well as by fronto-lateral regions. As indicated by the resultant dipole strengths, these regions are activated bilaterally with a dominance in the left hemisphere for four out of the five subjects. The contribution of the left temporal regions to the early syntactic processes seems to be larger than that of the left fronto-lateral regions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*