The neurobiology of syntactic and semantic structure building


Language is a combinatory system able to create an infinite array of complex meanings from memory representations in our mental dictionary. How is this integrative process neurally implemented? Studies on the processing of structured vs. unstructured language stimuli have identified a largely left-lateral “combinatory network,” with the anterior temporal lobe as its most consistent integrative node, likely contributing the first stage of a multi-stage combinatory process. This chapter summarizes our current understanding of the neurobiology of composition, with a focus on three paradigms from extant literature that most directly address the basic process of combining words into phrases and sentences: the so-called sentence vs. list paradigm, the two-word phrase paradigm and approaches using model comparison with natural narratives as stimuli.

The Cognitive Neurosciences, 6th Edition

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