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Brain oscillations in language

Understanding written and spoken language is essential for daily life, but how does the brain make this possible? Nietzsche Lam’s thesis examined which frequencies and areas are responsible for individual facets of language comprehension, and how they work together. Lam will defend her thesis on February 10th at 10:30 at the Aula of Radboud University Nijmegen.
Brain oscillations in language

Brain Oscillations in Language

As an integral part of a larger project called the Mother of All Unification Studies (MOUS), 204 participants had electrical, structural, behavioural, and genetic information collected while they either listened to or read word lists and sentences. The results of the study showed that almost all frequency bands: delta (0.5-3.5 Hz), theta (4-7 Hz), alpha (8– 10 Hz), beta (13–30 Hz), and gamma (30–100 Hz) are involved in language comprehension, with specific roles for each band in areas all over the brain. In particular, slow oscillations in the delta and theta band lined up with the inherent rhythm in speech sounds, which might be part of what allows us to parse speech. For reading, the oscillations involved with the unification, prediction, and language memory processes were identified – and most interestingly were detected in areas in both hemispheres, contrary to many other studies suggesting the predominant involvement of the left hemisphere in language processing. In total, the results show insight into the function of, and provide fertile ground for future research into, neural oscillations in language.

Nietzsche Lam obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. She also holds an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Donders Institute of Radboud University Nijmegen. She currently works in medical communications in Amsterdam.

Neurobiology of Language

What is the neurobiological infrastructure for the uniquely human capacity for language? The focus of the Neurobiology of Language Department is on the study of language production, language comprehension, and language acquisition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Read more...

Director: Peter Hagoort

Secretary: Carolin Lorenz

 

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