The Neural Bases of Text and Discourse Processing

  • Perfetti C
  • Frishkoff G
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Understanding discourse requires the comprehension of individual words and sentences, as well as integration across sentence represen- tations to form a coherent understanding of the discourse as a whole. The processes that achieve this coherence involve a dynamic interplay between mental representations built on the current sentence, the prior discourse context, and the comprehender’s background (world) knowl- edge. In this chapter, we outline the cognitive and linguistic processes that support discourse comprehension and explore the functional neuroanatomy of text and discourse processing. Our review suggests an emerging picture of the neurocognition of discourse comprehen- sion that involves an extended language processing network, includ- ing left dorsal and ventral frontal regions, left temporal cortex, medial frontal cortex, and posterior cingulate. While convergent evidence points to the importance of left frontal and temporal networks in dis- course processing, the role of right hemisphere networks is less clear.

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