Dissociations in the ability to produce words of different grammatical categories are well established in neuropsychology but have not been corroborated fully with evidence from brain imaging. Here we report on a PET study designed to reveal the anatomical correlates of grammatical processes involving nouns and verbs. German-speaking subjects were asked to produce either plural and singular nouns, or first-person plural and singular verbs. Verbs, relative to nouns, activated a left frontal cortical network, while the opposite contrast (nouns-verbs) showed greater activation in temporal regions bilaterally. Similar patterns emerged when subjects performed the task with pseudowords used as nouns or as verbs. These results converge with findings from lesion studies and suggest that grammatical category is an important dimension of organization for knowledge of language in the brain.
Shapiro, K. A., Mottaghy, F. M., Schiller, N. O., Poeppel, T. D., Fluss, M. O., Muller, H. W., Caramazza, A., & Krause, B. J. (2005). Dissociating neural correlates for nouns and verbs. Neuroimage, 24(4), 1058-1067. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.10.015