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Article

Brain Basis of Communicative Actions in Language

Neuroimage. 2015. Vol. in press.
Egorova N., Shtyrov Y., Pulvermuller F.

Although language is a key tool for communication in social interaction, most studies in the neuroscience of language have focused on language structures such as words and sentences. Here, the neural correlates of speech acts, that is, the actions performed by using language, were investigated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants were shown videos, in which the same critical utterances were used in different communicative contexts, to Name objects, or to Request them from communication partners. Understanding of critical utterances asRequests was accompanied by activation in bilateral premotor, left inferior frontal and temporo-parietal cortical areas known to support action-related and social interactive knowledge. Naming, however, activated the left angular gyrus implicated in linking information about word forms and related reference objects mentioned in critical utterances. These findings show that the understanding of utterances as different communicative actions is reflected in distinct brain activation patterns, and thus suggest different neural substrates for different speech act types.