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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

October 2011, Vol. 23, No. 10, Pages 2632-2635
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00043)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Some Regions within Broca's Area Do Respond More Strongly to Sentences than to Linguistically Degraded Stimuli: A Comment on Rogalsky and Hickok (2011)
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Abstract

On the basis of their review of the literature, Rogalsky and Hickok [Rogalsky, C., & Hickok, G. The role of Broca's area in sentence comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 1664–1680, 2011] conclude that there is currently no strong evidence for the existence of “sentence-specific processing regions within Broca's area” (p. 1664). Their argument is based, in part, on the observation that many previous studies have failed to detect an effect in the left inferior frontal regions for contrasts between sentences and linguistically degraded control conditions (e.g., lists of unconnected words, lists of nonwords, or acoustically degraded sentence stimuli). Our data largely replicate this lack of activation in inferior frontal regions when traditional random-effects group analyses are conducted but crucially show robust activations in the same data for the same contrasts in almost every subject individually. Thus, it is the use of group analyses in studies of language processing, not the idea that sentences robustly activate frontal regions, that needs to be reconsidered. This reconsideration has important methodological and theoretical implications.