Traditional neuroanatomic models of language comprehension have emphasized a core language network situated in peri-Sylvian cortex. More recent evidence appears to extend the neuroanatomic network beyond peri-Sylvian cortex to encompass other aspects of sentence processing. In this study, we evaluate the neuroanatomic basis for processing the ambiguity in doubly-quantified sentences. For example, a sentence like "All the dogs jumped in a lake" can be interpreted with a collective interpretation (e.g., several dogs jumping into a single lake) or a distributive interpretation (e.g., several dogs each jumping into a different lake). In Experiment 1, we used BOLD fMRI to investigate neuroanatomic recruitment by young adults during the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences in a sentence-picture verification task. We observed that young adults exhibited a processing cost associated with interpreting ambiguous sentences and this was related to frontal and parietal cortex recruitment. In Experiment 2, we investigate ambiguous sentence processing with the identical materials in non-aphasic patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) who have frontal cortex disease and executive and decision-making limitations. bvFTD patients are insensitive to ambiguity associated with doubly-quantified sentences, and this is related to the magnitude of their frontal cortex disease. These studies provide converging evidence that cortical regions that extend beyond peri-Sylvian cortex help support the processing costs associated with the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences.
Recommended CitationMcMillan, Corey T; Coleman, Danielle; Clark, Robin; Liang, Tsao-Wei; Gross, Rachel G; and Grossman, Murray, "Converging evidence for the processing costs associated with ambiguous quantifier comprehension." (2013). Department of Neurology Faculty Papers. Paper 64.