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Neural foundations of language grammar: universal and language-specific effects

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2016
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The subject-matter of this research project are language-specific psychological and neural mechanisms, on the one hand, and the interaction of language with other cognitive functions, on the other hand. Thus, the project is devoted to the study of specific and universal mechanisms involved in speech, without understanding of which it would be impossible to build a comprehensive model of the brain work.

The objective is to identify language-specific and universal mechanisms of speech, that is, the contribution of language-specific psychological and neural processes, on the one hand, and language-general cognitive processes, on the other hand. The specific research goals include identifying normative language-specific mechanisms; identifying the nature of the impairment of language-specific mechanisms in people with brain pathologies; identifying language-general normative mechanisms; identifying the nature of the impairment of language-general mechanisms affecting speech in people with brain pathologies.

The employed methods include contemporary methods from linguistics and neuroscience: behavioral techniques (accuracy and reaction time measurements), eye-tracking, structural imaging (including voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping), tractography, functional magnetic resonance imaging (task-based and resting-state), electrical stimulation and electroencephalography.

Empirical base of research is grounded on a series of psycho- and neurolinguistic experiments. Diverse populations of language users took part in the research project: healthy monolinguals, healthy bilinguals, patients with post-stroke brain lesions, patients with brain tumor, patients with epilepsy and cortical dysplasia. Speakers of typologically different languages participated in the project (Russian, English, Adyghe, Greek, Japanese, and Hebrew) because each of these languages affords unique features for studying a given element of grammar of the human language.

The results of this research project constitute identified knowledge about psychological and neural mechanisms of language processing in normative populations and populations with brain pathology from the point of view of uniqueness of the described processes with respect to language proper as well as other cognitive functions. The obtained results are presented in eight research articles written in English and published in international peer-reviewed journals.

Recommendations on implementation of the results are related to the application of the obtained knowledge in fundamental as well as applied studies of language. The results of this work can serve as the basis for future empirical research inquiries that aim to identify new psychological and neural manifestations of language. In addition, these results can be used for development of new practical tools for language assessment and rehabilitation of the language function in diverse clinical populations. 

Publications:


Kibrik A. A., Khudyakova M., Dobrov G. B., Linnik A., Zalmanov D. A. Referential Choice: Predictability and Its Limits // Frontiers in Psychology. 2016. Vol. 7. No. 1429. P. 1-21. doi
Khudyakova M. Lexical Diversity in Different Types of Aphasia // Stem-, Spraak- en Taalpathologie. 2017. Vol. 22. No. 2. P. 110-112.
Piai V., Meyer L., Dronkers N., Knight R. T. Neuroplasticity of language in left-hemisphere stroke: evidence linking subsecond electrophysiology and structural connections. // Human Brain Mapping. 2016
Piai V., Anderson K., Lin J., Dewar C., Parvizi J., Dronkers N., Knight R. T. Direct brain recordings reveal hippocampal rhythm underpinnings of language processing // Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 doi
Sekerina I. A., Campanelli L., Van Dyke J. Using the visual world paradigm to study retrieval interference in spoken language comprehension // Frontiers in Psychology. 2016. Vol. 7. No. 873 doi
Malyutina S., Dragoy O., Ivanova M., Laurinavichyute A., Petrushevsky A., Meindl T., Pöppel E., Gutyrchik E. Fishing is not wrestling: Neural underpinnings of the verb instrumentality effect // Journal of Neurolinguistics. 2016. Vol. 40. P. 37-54. doi
Malyutina S., Richardson J. D., Den Ouden D. Verb argument structure in narrative speech: Mining AphasiaBank // Seminars in Speech and Language. 2016. Vol. 37. No. 1. P. 34-47. doi
Ivanova M., Isaev D. Y., Dragoy O., Akinina Y., Петрушевский А. Г., Федина О. Н., Dronkers N. Diffusion-tensor imaging of major white matter tracts and their role in language processing in aphasia. // Cortex. 2016. Vol. 85. P. 165-181. doi