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Common Neural System for Sentence and Picture Comprehension Across Languages: A Chinese–Japanese Bilingual Study

Abstract : While common semantic representations for individual words across languages have been identified, a common meaning system at sentence-level has not been determined. In this study, fMRI was used to investigate whether an across-language sentence comprehension system exists. Chinese-Japanese bilingual participants (n = 32) were asked to determine whether two consecutive stimuli were related (coherent) or not (incoherent) to the same event. Stimuli were displayed with three different modalities (Chinese written sentences, Japanese written sentences, and pictures). The behavioral results showed no significant difference in accuracy and response times among the three modalities. Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) of fMRI data was used to classify the semantic relationship (coherent or incoherent) across the stimulus modalities. The classifier was first trained to determine coherency within Chinese sentences and then tested with Japanese sentences, and vice versa. A whole-brain searchlight analysis revealed significant above-chance classification accuracy across Chinese and Japanese sentences in the supramarginal gyrus (BA 40), extending into the angular gyrus (BA 39) as well as the opercular (BA 44) and triangular (BA 45) parts of the inferior frontal gyrus in the left hemisphere (cluster-level FWE corrected p < 0.05). Significant above-chance classification accuracy was also found across Japanese sentences and pictures in the supramarginal (BA 40) and angular gyrus (BA 39). These results indicate that a common meaning system for sentence processing across languages and modalities exists, and it involves the left inferior parietal gyrus.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03053184
Contributor : Carol Madden-Lombardi <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 10:12:11 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 3:27:32 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 9:18:48 PM

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Zhengfei Hu, Huixiang Yang, Yuxiang Yang, Shuhei Nishida, C.J. Madden-Lombardi, et al.. Common Neural System for Sentence and Picture Comprehension Across Languages: A Chinese–Japanese Bilingual Study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2019, 13, ⟨10.3389/fnhum.2019.00380⟩. ⟨hal-03053184⟩

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