Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Looking At Language: Eye Movements Of Parkinson's Disease Patients During Sentence Comprehension Support Subcortical Role In Processing Syntax

Date:
August 7, 2009
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
The study of the neural basis of language has largely focused on regions in the cortex -- the outer brain layers thought by many researchers to have expanded during human evolution. New research adds to evidence that deeper, subcortical regions are also critical by pinpointing when Parkinson's disease patients have difficulty while processing grammatically complex sentences.

The study of the neural basis of language has largely focused on regions in the cortex – the outer brain layers thought by many researchers to have expanded during human evolution. Research at Brown University’s Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, reported in the September Issue of Cortex, adds to evidence that deeper, subcortical regions are also critical by pinpointing when Parkinson’s disease patients have difficulty while processing grammatically complex sentences.

In Parkinson’s disease, degeneration of subcortical dopamine-secreting neurons leads not only to motor symptoms but often also to cognitive deficits.

Jesse Hochstadt recorded eye movements of Parkinson’s patients as they listened to sentences containing restrictive relative clauses (“The queen who was kicking the cook was fat”) and tried to choose matching pictures. Patients who made more errors were slower to stop looking at pictures ruled out by the relative clause (a cook kicking a queen) when they had heard only as far as that clause’s verb (“The queen who was kicking”). But at the ends of sentences, they were not slower to rule out pictures (such as a thin queen kicking a fat cook) that disagreed with the main clause (“The queen … was fat”), despite the memory demands imposed by the intervening relative clause. These patients again showed poor relative-clause and good main-clause processing when relative clauses were at the ends of sentences (“The queen was kicking the cook who was thin”).

Patients with such syntax processing difficulty also had difficulty switching between making choices based on size or shape in a non-linguistic task. This association, Hochstadt proposes, may indicate that processing relative clauses requires structural “switching away” from main clauses; alternatively, because restrictive relative clauses generally refer to facts already mentioned, processing them may involve shifting attention to this “background” information from main-clause “foreground” information.

These joint effects of subcortical neurodegeneration on syntax and “set-switching” are consistent with widely publicized research indicating that mutations in the human FOXP2 gene cause deficits in language and cognition by affecting development of subcortical structures, and that evolution of modern Homo sapiens involved modification of this gene.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hochstadt et al. Set-shifting and the on-line processing of relative clauses in Parkinson's disease: Results from a novel eye-tracking method. Cortex, 2009; 45 (8): 991 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2009.03.010

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Looking At Language: Eye Movements Of Parkinson's Disease Patients During Sentence Comprehension Support Subcortical Role In Processing Syntax." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804071818.htm>.
Elsevier. (2009, August 7). Looking At Language: Eye Movements Of Parkinson's Disease Patients During Sentence Comprehension Support Subcortical Role In Processing Syntax. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804071818.htm
Elsevier. "Looking At Language: Eye Movements Of Parkinson's Disease Patients During Sentence Comprehension Support Subcortical Role In Processing Syntax." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804071818.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins