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    Sentence processing in anterior superior temporal cortex shows a social-emotional bias

    Mellem, M.S. and Jasmin, Kyle and Peng, C. and Martin, A. (2016) Sentence processing in anterior superior temporal cortex shows a social-emotional bias. Neuropsychologia 89 , pp. 217-224. ISSN 0028-3932.

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    The anterior region of the left superior temporal gyrus/superior temporal sulcus (aSTG/STS) has been implicated in two very different cognitive functions: sentence processing and social-emotional processing. However, the vast majority of the sentence stimuli in previous reports have been of a social or social-emotional nature suggesting that sentence processing may be confounded with semantic content. To evaluate this possibility we had subjects read word lists that differed in phrase/constituent size (single words, 3-word phrases, 6-word sentences) and semantic content (social-emotional, social, and inanimate objects) while scanned in a 7T environment. This allowed us to investigate if the aSTG/STS responded to increasing constituent structure (with increased activity as a function of constituent size) with or without regard to a specific domain of concepts, i.e., social and/or social-emotional content. Activity in the left aSTG/STS was found to increase with constituent size. This region was also modulated by content, however, such that social-emotional concepts were preferred over social and object stimuli. Reading also induced content type effects in domain-specific semantic regions. Those preferring social-emotional content included aSTG/STS, inferior frontal gyrus, posterior STS, lateral fusiform, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala, regions included in the "social brain", while those preferring object content included parahippocampal gyrus, retrosplenial cortex, and caudate, regions involved in object processing. These results suggest that semantic content affects higher-level linguistic processing and should be taken into account in future studies.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Kyle Jasmin
    Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 13:34
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:47


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