New Brain Structures in Language Processing Identified

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Dr. Sabrina Turker, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, underscores the limited knowledge we possess regarding the organization of language in the human brain. Despite extensive neuroscientific research, our understanding largely relies on single studies with small sample sizes, often lacking validation in subsequent research. This meta-analysis aims to redress this gap in our understanding.

Drawing on over 400 neuroscientific experiments utilizing functional imaging and involving more than 7000 subjects, this analysis offers profound insights into the brain’s intricate language organization.

To achieve the most comprehensive and objective integration of findings from various studies, a quantitative, coordinate-based meta-analysis was employed. This method unveils the specific brain regions activated during distinct language processes, shedding light on fundamental principles governing language processing in the brain.

This research delves not only into language as a whole but also dissects subordinate processes: semantics (the meaning of language at the word and sentence level), phonology (the phonetic structure of language), syntax (grammar and linguistic element arrangement), and prosody (the phonetic structure of language at the sentence level, encompassing melody, intonation, and rhythm).

Intriguingly, besides the well-established language regions in the left hemisphere, this study unearths the crucial involvement of brain structures below the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum in language processing.

Professor Gesa Hartwigsen, a leading expert in Cognitive and Biological Psychology at Leipzig University, emphasizes the prior neglect of these regions in neuroscientific language research. The left and right cerebellum, for instance, play integral roles in processing language meaning and sounds. Additionally, the right amygdala, a core brain area, is activated when dealing with phonetic patterns transcending individual words, imparting emotional meaning. This region also exerts influence over emotion and memory.

Professor Gesa Hartwigsen suggests that these findings hold potential for future studies on language recovery following brain injuries, such as strokes. Moreover, they could refine existing models of language processing.


Source Leipzig University

Author: Neurologica