Speaker: Kuniyoshi L. Sakai (The University of Tokyo)

Time: 13:00-14:30, May 28, 2019

Venue: #1113, Wangkezhen Building,Peking University

Abstract: There is a tacit assumption in neuroscience from the genetic to the system level, which holds that the biological foundations of humans are essentially similar to those of nonhuman primates. However, the recent development of linguistics has clarified that human language is radically different from what is known as animal communication, and that syntax is a unique and innate function of the human brain. In my talk, I will provide experimental evidence that fundamental language processing is indeed specialized in the human brain, focusing particularly on the function of the grammar center . Specifically, our recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and the left lateral premotor cortex (LPMC) are specialized in syntactic processing. Moreover, we have shown that the former region is responsible for calculating "Degree of Merger" (DoM), i.e., the maximum depth of merged subtrees within a given domain in a sentence. I will further provide the proof of direct causal link between the brain and syntax, such that a lesion in the left IFG is sufficient to cause agrammatic comprehension.

Host: Prof. Yuji Naya