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Neurobiology of Language -

New Post-Doc: Atsuko Takashima

Multiple levels of processes are taking place in the brain when we describe a situation out aloud. Processing of visual inputs, retrieval of appropriate nouns and verbs to illustrate the scene, putting words in a correct syntactic structure together with the functional words, and translate the constructed sentence to a motoric output. On the brain level, these include processing of perception, retrieval of information from memory, keeping online words to be constructed in the working memory buffer, selection of appropriate syntax, and adequate motor output. In the current project, we aim to investigate the brain structures that are involved in sentence production, especially differences in the brain activation level that is dependent on 1) the sentence complexity and 2) the presence/absence of semantic feature to the critical verb.
New Post-Doc: Atsuko Takashima

I have been investigating the brain plasticity involved in memory formation and retrieval. I began by observing how people remember pictorial scenes and how the responsible brain structures for successful retrieval changes as a function of time. The hippocampus is an important structure for retrieving recently learned information, whereas the ventral medial prefrontal cortex seems to take over the hub role from the hippocampus as the memory ages. The hippocampus is also important for associative memory, such as object-location association (where you parked your car this morning), and is especially crucial for multimodal association such as learning an association between a spoken word and its visual referent. In a recent study, we tracked brain activity change while people were trained to read aloud pseudowords written in an unfamiliar script and how the dominant brain network changed as participants became more fluent in production.

With this background, I will tackle the question posed above: “Capture brain processes in sentence production as a function of sentence complexity and the presence/absence of semantics.“ I will use the same technique that I have used in the past - functional MRI to observe brain areas related to the sentence production task.

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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