These are one of many pairs of sentences that were used in this study. All of the sentences were taken from a previous study (Rodd, Davis & Johnsrude, 2005, Cerebral Cortex PDF) which studied the brain responses to sentences.
1) High Ambiguity Sentence: "There were dates and pears in the fruit bowl"
"Dates" and "pears" are both ambiguous words. To understand this sentence your brain needs to do extra work to figure out the correct meaning of these two words.
2) Low ambiguity sentence: "There was beer and cider on the kitchen shelf"
This is very similar to the high ambiguity sentence, but without any ambiguous words.
Comparing the brain activity associated with listening to these pairs of sentences shows us brain systems involved in understanding the meaning of sentences. This activity was absent in heavily sedated volunteers.
This sound is acoustically matched to the sentences but contains no speech information. Comparing the brain response to noise and to sentences shows us the brain systems involved in hearing speech sounds. Some, but not all of these systems also respond during sedation.
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