Talk:Psycholinguistics/Syntax in the Brain

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  • This chapter is well-written and well-organized. Good job!
  • In the discussion of Broca, a few additional details would help underscore the importance of his findings. Firstly, he was really the first "localizationist" who provided solid scientific evidence that a particular brain area served a specific function. This was in contrast to Gall's phrenology, which made similar claims but was not based on any real data. As well, Broca's first patient gave every evidence of being cognitively intact, including being able to comprehend speech, other than his speech production deficit. This was a critical piece of evidence in favour of localization - speech output could be selectively impaired while other functions were spared. The fact that the second patient was able to produce speech with a lesion to a different part of the left frontal lobe helped solidify the claim that a very specific part of the left frontal lobe was critical to speech production.
  • The discussion of Broca is good but his pioneering work on localization should be separated from a discussion of nonfluent and agrammatic aphasias (which both qualify as "Broca's aphasia"). I would suggest a separate section titled "neuropsychology" (or even "agrammatica aphasia"), but it should come after the historical review (so after the bits on Wernicke)
  • In the "separating syntax from semantics" section you do not need a citation of the same paper at the end of every subsequent sentence. Once you've cited it in the first sentence, we can infer that all the subsequent information is from the same source unless you state otherwise. Apply this advice throughout your chapter.
  • unclear why "Separating Syntax from Semantics" and "Semantic Processing vs Syntax Processing" are separate sections. They seem to be the same thing. More importantly, I don't think they frame the issue properly since your chapter is specifically on syntax. I recommend including Wernicke in the first section, along with Broca, to further support the notion of localization of different aspects of language processing in the brain. The fact that syntax and semantics are distinct aspects of language processing is addressed elsewhere in the course, so you don't need to make much of it here. You can make reference to the distinction when describing specific effects (e.g., different ERP components), but keep the chapter headings centered around syntax.
  • Careful with tense. For example, you write "Further evidence suggested that there was a distinct difference between semantic and syntactic processing." - but there is still a difference between syntax and semantics, right? Not just in the past?
  • I don't understand what you mean by "Freedman and Forster (1985) that showed that there were different systems involved in grammar" - different brain systems?
  • Your discussion of the different ERP components elicited by syntactic and semantic violations is a bit jumbled because you end up trying to use the different components to make the point of different processing, but you don't really describe the components well. In light of my above suggestion, I recommend re-working this section as "Temporal Aspects of syntactic processing" since that is what the ERP and MEG studies primarily give us. You could frame it as previous studies showing N400s for semantic processing (including violations and priming). Neville et al showed distinct components for syntactic violations. These included a LAN (describe the timing and scalp distribution) and a P600 (again describe timing and scalp distribution).
  • Grodzinsky & Friederici (2006) did not actually perform an experiment - theirs is a review paper of previously-published experiments.
  • In "the seat of syntax" (nice title BTW!) you should mention the assertion from the G&F (2006) paper regarding the specific functions of discrete parts of the IFG. It's also probably better to start early on referring to it as the IFG rather than "Broca's area" since the latter term has certain implications that, as you describe, have been disproven, and in fact this region has several functional subdivisions.
  • The jabberwocky figure should have a caption explaining what it is - it will likely be confusing for a naive reader
  • many of the subsections under "the seat of syntax" seem out of place. As well, "where does syntax work within the brain?" seems an odd heading for a subsection, since that's the topic of the whole chapter. I suggest reorganizing everything from "syntax vs semantics" on down.
  • The section on Friederici is really about the model, not the person. So Make the title reflect that.

AaronJNewman 22:15, 7 March 2011 (UTC)