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Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax$
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Derek Bickerton and Eörs Szathmáry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262013567

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262013567.001.0001

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Brain Circuits of Syntax

Brain Circuits of Syntax

(p.238) (p.239) 11 Brain Circuits of Syntax
Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax

Friederici Angela D.

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the role of brain circuits in the processing of syntax within the framework of possible neuroanatomical differences of the human and nonhuman primate brain. It considers evidence based on event-related potentials and functional brain imaging to show how local phrase-structure processing and the processing of hierarchical dependencies can be mapped onto two separable neural networks: one involving the frontal operculum and the anterior superior temporal gyrus, and the other involving Broca’s area and the posterior superior temporal gyrus. Neuroanatomical data suggest that different fiber tracts connect the respective brain areas of each of these networks. These findings indicate that the two syntactic brain circuits are separable in terms of both function and structure.

Keywords:   brain circuits, syntax, event-related potentials, functional brain imaging, neural networks, frontal operculum, anterior superior temporal gyrus, Broca’s area, posterior superior temporal gyrus

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