Basic Research

SPEECH PERCEPTION

This research topic uses behavioral and fMRI methodology to better understand the neural systems that are involved when people perceive language. One project investigates the role of visual information in speech processing, and how familiarity with particular speakers aids comprehension when listening conditions are difficult. A different study focuses on the processing of written sentences, and how such processing changes with differences in syntactic, semantic and orthographic complexity. Another project seeks to understand how listeners make use of cues related to agency, which are needed to establish who the ‘doer’ is in a sentence.

 

CONTRIBUTIONS OF SUBCORTICAL STRUCTURES IN NON-MOTOR ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE PROCESSING

This project’s aim is to explore the involvement of cortico-striatal and cortico-cerebellar circuits in different conditions of language production and comprehension.

Until the last few decades, both structures had attracted but little attention with respect to their contributions in language processing, which were primarily seen as strictly motor in nature. What is more, both areas form reciprocal loops with cerebral cortical areas that are well established to contribute to aspects of language processing that cannot be considered to be purely motor.

This research thus promotes the lab’s commitment to addressing issues on the relationship between brain and language in a non-phrenological fashion that instead emphasizes the intrinsic properties of brain connectivity.

CONVENTIONALIZATION OF NOVEL METAPHOR COMPREHENSION

The aim of this project is to investigate how comprehension of novel metaphors becomes conventionalized when participants repeatedly listen to novel metaphors including manual verbs in different sentential contexts in scanner. We predict a transition from literal meaning processing to figurative meaning processing will happen and the usages of inference, semantic selection and inhibition will change during conventionalization. Accordingly, activation in hand motor area and right frontal / temporal / parietal regions will change when novel metaphors become conventionalized.

 

BRAIN NETWORK FOR INFORMATION UPDATING DURING STORY COMPREHENSION

The aim of this project is to examine the brain network for information updating when participants passively listen to long stories in scanner. We focus on information updating of time, space, action, characters, objects, etc. Moreover, brain network about fine / coarse event-boundaries will also be checked. Data-driven analysis such as independent component analysis (ICA) and connectivity analysis such as Granger causality analysis and modularity analysis will be applied to data analysis.