Bilateral parietal contributions to spatial language

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Abstract

It is commonly held that language is largely lateralized to the left hemisphere in most individuals, whereas spatial processing is associated with right hemisphere regions. In recent years, a number of neuroimaging studies have yielded conflicting results regarding the role of language and spatial processing areas in processing language about space (e.g., Carpenter, Just, Keller, Eddy, & Thulborn, 1999; Damasio et al., 2001). In the present study, we used sparse scanning event‐related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of spatial language, that is; language used to communicate the spatial relationship of one object to another. During scanning, participants listened to sentences about object relationships that were either spatial or non-spatial in nature (color or size relationships). Sentences describing spatial relationships elicited more activation in the superior parietal lobule and precuneus bilaterally in comparison to sentences describing size or color relationships. Activation of the precuneus suggests that spatial sentences elicit spatial-mental imagery, while the activation of the SPL suggests sentences containing spatial language involve integration of two distinct sets of information – linguistic and spatial.

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Conder, J., Fridriksson, J., Baylis, G. C., Smith, C. M., Boiteau, T. W., & Almor, A. (2017). Bilateral parietal contributions to spatial language. Brain and Language, 164, 16–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2016.09.007

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