SPL4: Brain dynamics of language in space and time: Investigating interactive phonological, lexical, syntactic and seman View Homepage


Ontology type: schema:MonetaryGrant     


Grant Info

YEARS

2004-2011

FUNDING AMOUNT

2355113 GBP

ABSTRACT

We have shown that the brain systems for language and action are closely linked. Brain theory predicts that frequent co-occurrence of actions and words joins together their neural circuits at the level of the cortex. We investigated words that are used to speak about actions involving muscles of the face, arms and legs, respectively. Reading and hearing these words specifically activates brain regions that normally process the actions the word relate to semantically. Word meaning could be mapped along the motor brain: the arm word pick activated the arm motor cortex as the leg word kick activated the leg representation and words such as lick or speak the mouth and tongue representation. Emotion words also activated face and arm motor cortex the body parts with which emotions are being expressed but more abstract language sparked prefrontal areas and temporal poles. This brain activation evidence was collected with a range of research techniques, including event-related functional MRI, EEG, Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The results document that words and the actions they relate to are stored in distributed neural circuits that bind together sign and meaning and have specific cortical distributions. The close connection between language and action systems of the brain has implications for language therapy in patients who cannot speak and understand due to disease of the brain: A new treatment of post-stroke aphasia developed by MRC scientist Friedemann Pulvermuller in collaboration with international collaborators provides intensive training of language in action contexts tailored to the patients communication needs. The new technique, which can improve chronic post-stroke aphasia even several years after onset of the disease, has become known as Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy or Intensive Language-Action Therapy. Technical Summary The neuronal circuits of language are investigated using neuroimaging, patient studies and neuronal modelling. Results are translated into more efficient therapy methods for speech-language therapy in post-stroke aphasia. A neurobiological model of language processes is developed on the basis of established neuroscience principles and implemented in neuroanatomically and physiologically based neuronal network simulations. Model predictions are tested experimentally; results of these experiments, in turn, allow to develop the model further and eventually improve our understanding of language mechanisms in the human brain. In this endeavour, multiple experimental techniques are being used, including MEG, EEG, fMRI, TMS, intracranial recordings, as well as behavioural testing of healthy subjects and neurological patients, some of them in collaboration with other world-leading centres. Results are being applied in the development of new therapeutic techniques, especially for treating post-stroke aphasia. The projects research has five strands focussing, respectively, on the following topics: A. Explaining cognitive brain activity by neuroanatomically and -physiologically realistic neural network models B. Spatiotemporal MEG/EEG patterns indexing sensorimotor and linguistic information access C. Category-specific semantic systems and cortical circuits with specific distributions D. Syntactic circuits in the brain E. Language learning and therapy More detailed information can be found here: http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/research/speech-language/slfourresearchreport.html One of the main ideas from neuroscience, for which we could accumulate evidence in recent years, is that distributed discrete neuronal systems are the organic basis of language processing. These distributed systems bind information about the articulatory program and the auditory pattern constituting a spoken word, as they also are the binding devices linking word forms to their meanings. Additional grammatical binding units are envisaged to process syntactic information about the serial and hierarchical relationships between word stems and their affixes. Support for the existence of syntactic sequence detectors acting as a possible neural basis of discrete combinatorial rules comes from neurophysiological studies. A main focus of this project is on the rapid spreading of cortical activity. The time course of cortical activation can be monitored precisely using high-resolution MEG and EEG in conjunction with source localisation techniques, and more directly using intracranial recordings. We explore spatio-temporal patterns of this kind and try to link them to specific linguistic and cognitive processes. Our newly gained knowledge about the intrinsic functional connections between linguistic, object-related and action information at the level of the brain has clear implication for aphasia therapy. A new neurobehavioral method for intensive aphasia rehabilitation developed by Pulvermuller in collaooration with oversea collaborators exploits this knowledge by placing language training in action context (Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy). In collaboration with other centres, we explore the effect of this new treatment technique on the brain processes of language. More... »

URL

http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/project/D3C18A80-F07B-423E-97A2-62681F50BEA2

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This brain activation evidence was collected with a range of research techniques, including event-related functional MRI, EEG, Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The results document that words and the actions they relate to are stored in distributed neural circuits that bind together sign and meaning and have specific cortical distributions. The close connection between language and action systems of the brain has implications for language therapy in patients who cannot speak and understand due to disease of the brain: A new treatment of post-stroke aphasia developed by MRC scientist Friedemann Pulvermuller in collaboration with international collaborators provides intensive training of language in action contexts tailored to the patients communication needs. The new technique, which can improve chronic post-stroke aphasia even several years after onset of the disease, has become known as Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy or Intensive Language-Action Therapy. Technical Summary The neuronal circuits of language are investigated using neuroimaging, patient studies and neuronal modelling. Results are translated into more efficient therapy methods for speech-language therapy in post-stroke aphasia. A neurobiological model of language processes is developed on the basis of established neuroscience principles and implemented in neuroanatomically and physiologically based neuronal network simulations. Model predictions are tested experimentally; results of these experiments, in turn, allow to develop the model further and eventually improve our understanding of language mechanisms in the human brain. 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Language learning and therapy More detailed information can be found here: http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/research/speech-language/slfourresearchreport.html One of the main ideas from neuroscience, for which we could accumulate evidence in recent years, is that distributed discrete neuronal systems are the organic basis of language processing. These distributed systems bind information about the articulatory program and the auditory pattern constituting a spoken word, as they also are the binding devices linking word forms to their meanings. Additional grammatical binding units are envisaged to process syntactic information about the serial and hierarchical relationships between word stems and their affixes. Support for the existence of syntactic sequence detectors acting as a possible neural basis of discrete combinatorial rules comes from neurophysiological studies. A main focus of this project is on the rapid spreading of cortical activity. 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