FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

Phonological Networks in Language Production and Comprehension. – PhoNet

Phonological Networks in Language Production and Comprehension

In a joint effort of French and German scientists specializing, respectively, in speech production and speech comprehension, this project will perform parallel production and comprehension experiments in French and German to improve our understanding of the brain mechanisms of language.

Are the phonological networks the same or not in production versus comprehension?

A range of cutting-edge neuroscience techniques will be used to map the cortical areas and their activation time course in speech production and comprehension tasks along with their functional contributions to the processes required for these tasks. A main focus will be on the relative contributions of frontal and motor vs temporal and auditory cortices to phonological processing in speech production and comprehension.

Minimal pairs, that is, meaningful word pairs only distinct in one language sound (e.g., “monkey” vs. “donkey”), will be studied in production and comprehension experiments to find out whether brain activations as measured with M/EEG, fMRI, TMS and DTI indexing the discrimination between speech sounds are constant across modalities and play a similar functional role in both kinds of tasks (perceptual and productive). Specific experiments will address important controversial issues currently disputed amongst scholars in the neuroscience of language, including the seriality vs. parallelism of phonological and semantic-pragmatic information access in both comprehension and production and, specifically, the question whether, although posterior temporal areas are relevant for both production and comprehension, the anterior language areas and particularly the motor system are critical only for production but not for perception and understanding of language.

The results of this project will be able to dissociate two classes of brain language models: partial Separation Models (pSM) and Integration Models (IM). According to partial Separation models phonological networks in perception rely on temporal cortex, while in production on both temporal and frontal cortex. Also the time-course of activation is argued to be reversed in perception (going from sounds to meaning) compared to production (going from meaning to sounds). In contrast, according the IM the phonological networks of words rely on the same fronto-temporal networks which become activated rapidly in parallel across the modalities.
Thus far the data collected for this project highlights evidence in favour of IM with ultra-rapid parallel activation of lexico-semantic and phonological information both when uttering as listening to words.

In the remainder, the spatiotemporal (MEG) and spatial (fMRI) data which has been collected needs to be analyses in order to assess whether the parallel activation of those phonological networks also relies on the same neural representations (spatial) in production and perception.
Hereafter, still a TMS experiment is planned to assess whether those phonological networks fulfil the same functional role in production as in perception.

1. Fairs, A., Dmitrieva, X., Chanoine, V., Morillon, B., Michelas, A., Dufour, S., ... & Strijkers, K. (2020). Does the brain recruit the same word representations across language production and perception? A registered report MEG study. Cortex, accepted Stage 1 Report: osf.io/37hxa.
2. Amie Fairs, Amandine Michelas, Sophie Dufour, Kristof Strijkers. The Same Ultra-Rapid Parallel Brain Dynamics Underpin the Production and Perception of Speech. Cerebral Cortex Communications, Oxford University Press, 2021, 2 (3), ?10.1093/texcom/tgab040?. ?hal-03317758?
3. Amie Fairs, Kristof Strijkers. Can we use the internet to study speech production? Yes we can! Evidence contrasting online versus laboratory naming latencies and errors. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2021, 16 (10), pp.e0258908. ?10.1371/journal.pone.0258908?. ?hal-03417222?
4. Kristof Strijkers, Arturo Hernandez, Albert Costa. Special Issue on Language Production and bilingualism. In memoriam of Albert Costa.. Journal of Neurolinguistics, Elsevier, 2021, 58, pp.100966. ?10.1016/j.jneuroling.2020.100966?. ?hal-03084927?

Current brain language theories primarily focus either on language production or on its perception and comprehension; multimodal theories that explain both are largely missing or are not worked out in sufficient detail. In a joint effort of French and German scientists specializing, respectively, in speech production and speech comprehension, this project will perform parallel production and comprehension experiments in French and German to improve our understanding of the brain mechanisms of language. To do so, a range of cutting-edge neuroscience techniques will be used (MEG, EEG, fMRI, DTI/DWI, TMS) to map the cortical areas and their activation time course in speech production and comprehension tasks along with their functional contributions to the processes required for these tasks. A main focus will be on the relative contributions of frontal and motor vs temporal and auditory cortices to phonological processing in speech production and comprehension. Therefore, minimal pairs, that is, meaningful word pairs only distinct in one language sound (e.g., "monkey" vs. "donkey"), will be studied in production and comprehension experiments to find out whether brain activations indexing the discrimination between speech sounds are constant across modalities and play a similar functional role in both kinds of tasks (perceptual and productive). Specific experiments will address important controversial issues currently disputed amongst scholars in the neuroscience of language, including the seriality vs. parallelism of phonological and semantic-pragmatic information access in both comprehension and production and, specifically, the question whether, although posterior temporal areas are relevant for both production and comprehension, the anterior language areas and particularly the motor system are critical only for production but not for perception and understanding of language. We expect that this project will significantly contribute to a better understanding of brain language relationships especially as our work, due to its systematic use of two major European languages, will present results that already have some cross linguistic validity, because they apply to both French and German, thus being less likely to be subject to confounds sometimes emerging in experimental linguistic research. Further crucial added value of the planned project comes from the principal investigators' complementary expertises in language production and comprehension theory and experiment, along with their joint full coverage of all major neuroscience methods and their pre-existant synergistic collaboration.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Kristof Strijkers (Laboratoire Parole et Langage)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LPL Laboratoire Parole et Langage
FUB Freie Universität Berlin

Help of the ANR 251,480 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: August 2019 - 36 Months

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