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Neural Dynamics of Speech Act Comprehension: An MEG Study of Naming and Requesting

Egorova, Natalia; Pulvermueller, Friedemann and Shtyrov, Yury LU (2014) In Brain Topography 27(3). p.375-392
Abstract
The neurobiological basis and temporal dynamics of communicative language processing pose important yet unresolved questions. It has previously been suggested that comprehension of the communicative function of an utterance, i.e. the so-called speech act, is supported by an ensemble of neural networks, comprising lexico-semantic, action and mirror neuron as well as theory of mind circuits, all activated in concert. It has also been demonstrated that recognition of the speech act type occurs extremely rapidly. These findings however, were obtained in experiments with insufficient spatio-temporal resolution, thus possibly concealing important facets of the neural dynamics of the speech act comprehension process. Here, we used... (More)
The neurobiological basis and temporal dynamics of communicative language processing pose important yet unresolved questions. It has previously been suggested that comprehension of the communicative function of an utterance, i.e. the so-called speech act, is supported by an ensemble of neural networks, comprising lexico-semantic, action and mirror neuron as well as theory of mind circuits, all activated in concert. It has also been demonstrated that recognition of the speech act type occurs extremely rapidly. These findings however, were obtained in experiments with insufficient spatio-temporal resolution, thus possibly concealing important facets of the neural dynamics of the speech act comprehension process. Here, we used magnetoencephalography to investigate the comprehension of Naming and Request actions performed with utterances controlled for physical features, psycholinguistic properties and the probability of occurrence in variable contexts. The results show that different communicative actions are underpinned by a dynamic neural network, which differentiates between speech act types very early after the speech act onset. Within 50-90 ms, Requests engaged mirror-neuron action-comprehension systems in sensorimotor cortex, possibly for processing action knowledge and intentions. Still, within the first 200 ms of stimulus onset (100-150 ms), Naming activated brain areas involved in referential semantic retrieval. Subsequently (200-300 ms), theory of mind and mentalising circuits were activated in medial prefrontal and temporo-parietal areas, possibly indexing processing of intentions and assumptions of both communication partners. This cascade of stages of processing information about actions and intentions, referential semantics, and theory of mind may underlie dynamic and interactive speech act comprehension. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Communicative action, Mirror neuron system, Pragmatics, Social, interaction, Theory of mind, Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
in
Brain Topography
volume
27
issue
3
pages
375 - 392
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000334271200005
  • scopus:84899553885
ISSN
0896-0267
DOI
10.1007/s10548-013-0329-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
7a72624f-8f42-4303-bd14-8c5a1152eb36 (old id 4438851)
date added to LUP
2014-05-21 15:46:43
date last changed
2017-07-23 03:58:57
@article{7a72624f-8f42-4303-bd14-8c5a1152eb36,
  abstract     = {The neurobiological basis and temporal dynamics of communicative language processing pose important yet unresolved questions. It has previously been suggested that comprehension of the communicative function of an utterance, i.e. the so-called speech act, is supported by an ensemble of neural networks, comprising lexico-semantic, action and mirror neuron as well as theory of mind circuits, all activated in concert. It has also been demonstrated that recognition of the speech act type occurs extremely rapidly. These findings however, were obtained in experiments with insufficient spatio-temporal resolution, thus possibly concealing important facets of the neural dynamics of the speech act comprehension process. Here, we used magnetoencephalography to investigate the comprehension of Naming and Request actions performed with utterances controlled for physical features, psycholinguistic properties and the probability of occurrence in variable contexts. The results show that different communicative actions are underpinned by a dynamic neural network, which differentiates between speech act types very early after the speech act onset. Within 50-90 ms, Requests engaged mirror-neuron action-comprehension systems in sensorimotor cortex, possibly for processing action knowledge and intentions. Still, within the first 200 ms of stimulus onset (100-150 ms), Naming activated brain areas involved in referential semantic retrieval. Subsequently (200-300 ms), theory of mind and mentalising circuits were activated in medial prefrontal and temporo-parietal areas, possibly indexing processing of intentions and assumptions of both communication partners. This cascade of stages of processing information about actions and intentions, referential semantics, and theory of mind may underlie dynamic and interactive speech act comprehension.},
  author       = {Egorova, Natalia and Pulvermueller, Friedemann and Shtyrov, Yury},
  issn         = {0896-0267},
  keyword      = {Communicative action,Mirror neuron system,Pragmatics,Social,interaction,Theory of mind,Magnetoencephalography (MEG)},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {375--392},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Brain Topography},
  title        = {Neural Dynamics of Speech Act Comprehension: An MEG Study of Naming and Requesting},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10548-013-0329-3},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2014},
}