Familial handedness and access to words, meaning, and syntax during sentence comprehension

David J. Townsend, Caroline Carrithers, Thomas G Bever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We compared right-handed familial dextral (FS -) and familial sinistral (FS +) participants who were aged either 10-13 years (children) or 18-23 years (adults). In word probe and associative probe tasks, FS + adults responded faster than all other groups and FS + children responded more slowly than all other groups. In the word probe task, only the FS - adults showed a significant effect of the serial position of the target word. We interpret these differences to support an analysis-by-synthesis model of comprehension in which individuals who differ in familial handedness and age emphasize different linguistic representations during comprehension. In general, FS + individuals focus on words and meaning, while FS - individuals focus on syntactic representations. In FS + individuals, age-related experiences with language produce a shift in responding from compositional meaning to words and their associations. In FS - individuals, age-related experiences with language produce a shift toward responding based more on detailed syntactic representations, including the serial order of words and possibly the structural roles of clauses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-331
Number of pages24
JournalBrain and Language
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Fingerprint

Functional Laterality
syntax
comprehension
Language
Linguistics
language
experience
Group
Familial
Syntax
Word Meaning
Handedness
Sentence Comprehension
linguistics

Keywords

  • Cerebral asymmetries
  • Individual differences
  • Language acquisition
  • Sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Familial handedness and access to words, meaning, and syntax during sentence comprehension. / Townsend, David J.; Carrithers, Caroline; Bever, Thomas G.

In: Brain and Language, Vol. 78, No. 3, 2001, p. 308-331.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Townsend, David J. ; Carrithers, Caroline ; Bever, Thomas G. / Familial handedness and access to words, meaning, and syntax during sentence comprehension. In: Brain and Language. 2001 ; Vol. 78, No. 3. pp. 308-331.
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