Left inferior frontal gyrus mediates morphosyntax: ERP evidence from verb processing in left-hemisphere damaged patients

Stefanie Regel*, Sonja A. Kotz, Ilona Henseler, Angela D. Friederici

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Neurocognitive models of language comprehension have proposed different mechanisms with different neural substrates mediating human language processing. Whether the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) is engaged in morpho-syntactic information processing is currently still controversially debated. The present study addresses this issue by examining the processing of irregular verb inflection in real words (e.g., swim > swum > swam) and pseudowords (e.g., frim >frum >fram) by using event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in neurological patients with lesions in the LIFG involving Broca's area as well as healthy controls. Different ERP patterns in response to the grammatical violations were observed in both groups. Controls showed a biphasic negativity-P600 pattern in response to incorrect verb inflections whereas patients with LIFG lesions displayed a N400. For incorrect pseudoword inflections, a late positivity was found in controls, while no ERP effects were obtained in patients. These findings of different ERP patterns in the two groups strongly indicate an involvement of LIFG in morphosyntactic processing, thereby suggesting brain regions' specialization for different language functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-171
JournalCortex
Volume86
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG)
  • Broca's area (Morpho-)syntax
  • Language processing

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