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Syntactic and semantic processing in the healthy and aphasic human brain
Dobel, C., PULVERMULLER, F., Haerle, M., Cohen, R., Koebbel, P., Schoenle, P.W. & Rockstroh, B.
Experimental Brain Research, (2001), 140, 77-85
Year of publication:
A syntactic and a semantic task were performed by German-speaking healthy subjects and aphasics with lesions in the dominant left hemisphere. In both tasks, pictures of objects were presented that had to be classified: In the syntactic task subjects had to classify the grammatical gender of the objects (masculine or feminine gender?), in the semantic task they had to decide, whether the objects were man- or nature-made. Performance was poorer in aphasics, particulalry in the syntactic task. Brain event-related potentials (ERPs) 300-600 ms following picture-onset showed different task-dependent laterality patterns in the two groups. In controls, the syntactic task induced a left-lateralized negative ERP, whereas the semantic task produced symmetric responses over the hemispheres. In the patients, laterality of the negative ERP was more pronounced in the semantic task compared to the syntactic task. Results are discussed in the framework of neuro-psycholinguistic models of word processing and current theories about the roles of the hemispheres in language recovery.