Semantics vs. world knowledge in prefrontal cortex

Liina Pylkkänen, Bridget Oliveri, Andrew J. Smart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Humans have knowledge about the properties of their native language at various levels of representation; sound, structure, and meaning computation constitute the core components of any linguistic theory. Although the brain sciences have engaged with representational theories of sound and syntactic structure, the study of the neural bases of sentence-level semantic computation has so far focused on manipulations that mainly vary knowledge about the world, and not necessarily linguistic knowledge about meaning, as defined by formal semantics. In this MEG study, we vary both semantic and world knowledge in the same experiment, and show that semantic violations, but not world knowledge violations, elicit an effect in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), while both types of violations engage the left inferior prefrontal cortex. In our previous work, we have shown that the vmPFC is also sensitive to various types of 'coercions', i.e., operations that repair semantic type-mismatch. Together, these results suggest that the vmPFC is involved in the composition of complex meaning, but not in the evaluation of whether an expression fits one's knowledge of the world.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1313-1334
    Number of pages22
    JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
    Volume24
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 2009

    Fingerprint

    Prefrontal Cortex
    Semantics
    semantics
    Linguistics
    Coercion
    linguistics
    DNA Mismatch Repair
    mismatch
    manipulation
    brain
    Language
    World Knowledge
    experiment
    Brain
    Violations
    language
    science
    evaluation
    Sound

    Keywords

    • Anterior midline field
    • Left inferior prefrontal cortex
    • Magnetoencephalography
    • Semantic processing
    • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Linguistics and Language
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

    Cite this

    Semantics vs. world knowledge in prefrontal cortex. / Pylkkänen, Liina; Oliveri, Bridget; Smart, Andrew J.

    In: Language and Cognitive Processes, Vol. 24, No. 9, 11.2009, p. 1313-1334.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Pylkkänen, Liina ; Oliveri, Bridget ; Smart, Andrew J. / Semantics vs. world knowledge in prefrontal cortex. In: Language and Cognitive Processes. 2009 ; Vol. 24, No. 9. pp. 1313-1334.
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