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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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Fundamental Syntactic Phenomena and Their Putative Relation to the Brain

Fundamental Syntactic Phenomena and Their Putative Relation to the Brain

Chapter:
(p.117) 6 Fundamental Syntactic Phenomena and Their Putative Relation to the Brain
Source:
Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax
Author(s):

Kaan Edith

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262013567.003.0006

Researchers have relied on human electrophysiology and brain imaging techniques to test the extent to which specific neural areas or operations are dedicated to syntax (that is, “hardwired”). A number of studies show a one-to-one correspondence between syntactic phenomena and brain areas, suggesting that syntax is not hardwired. Instead, a network of areas and processes primarily shared with other cognitive functions is involved. This supports the notion that syntax evolved from existing cognitive functions. This chapter first describes functional magnetic resonance imaging and event-related potentials (ERPs), along with the methodological issues involved. It then presents results from studies that probe various syntactic phenomena and what they indicate about the putative relation between syntactic phenomena and the brain. In particular, it looks at experiments investigating syntax and semantics, local dependencies, anaphora, polarity, and wh-movement.

Keywords:   electrophysiology, syntax, brain, functional magnetic resonance imaging, event-related potentials, semantics, syntactic phenomena, cognitive functions, anaphora, polarity

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