Monthly
208 pp. per issue
8 1/2 x 11, illustrated
ISSN
0898-929X
E-ISSN
1530-8898
2014 Impact factor:
4.69

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

December 2008, Vol. 20, No. 12, Pages 2153-2166
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20150)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Functional Neuroanatomy of Meaning Acquisition from Context
Article PDF (358.21 KB)
Abstract

An important issue in language learning is how new words are integrated in the brain representations that sustain language processing. To identify the brain regions involved in meaning acquisition and word learning, we conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Young participants were required to deduce the meaning of a novel word presented within increasingly constrained sentence contexts that were read silently during the scanning session. Inconsistent contexts were also presented in which no meaning could be assigned to the novel word. Participants showed meaning acquisition in the consistent but not in the inconsistent condition. A distributed brain network was identified comprising the left anterior inferior frontal gyrus (BA 45), the middle temporal gyrus (BA 21), the parahippocampal gyrus, and several subcortical structures (the thalamus and the striatum). Drawing on previous neuroimaging evidence, we tentatively identify the roles of these brain areas in the retrieval, selection, and encoding of the meaning.