Dynamic speech networks in the brain: Dual contribution of incrementality and constraints in access to semantics
Tyler, Lorraine K.
University of Cambridge
Department of Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Kocagoncu, E. (2017). Dynamic speech networks in the brain: Dual contribution of incrementality and constraints in access to semantics (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.17159
This thesis explores the spatiotemporal network dynamics underlying natural speech comprehension, as measured by electro-magnetoencephalography (E/MEG). I focus on the transient effects of incrementality and constraints in speech on access to lexical semantics. Through three E/MEG experiments I address two core issues in systems neuroscience of language: 1) What are the network dynamics underpinning cognitive computations that take place when we map sounds to rich semantic representations? 2) How do the prior semantic and syntactic contextual constraints facilitate this mapping? Experiment 1 investigated the cognitive processes and relevant networks that come online prior to a word’s recognition point (e.g. “f” for butterfly) as we access meaning through speech in isolation. The results revealed that 300 ms before the word is recognised, the speech incrementally activated matching phonological and semantic representations resulting in transient competition. This competition recruited LIFG, and modality specific regions (LSMG, LSTG for the phonological; LAG and MTG for the semantic domain). Immediately after the word’s recognition point the semantic representation of the target concept was boosted, and rapidly accessed recruiting bilateral MTG and AG. Experiment 2 explored the cortical networks underpinning contextual semantic processing in speech. Participant listened to two-word spoken phrases where the semantic constraint provided by the modifier was manipulated. To separate out cognitive networks that are modulated by semantic constraint from task positive networks I performed a temporal independent component analysis. Among 14 networks extracted, only the activity of bilateral AG was modulated by semantic constraint between -400 to -300 ms before the noun’s recognition point. Experiment 3 addressed the influence of sentential syntactic constraint on anticipation and activation of upcoming syntactic frames in speech. Participants listened to sentences with local syntactic ambiguities. The analysis of the connectivity dynamics in the left frontotemporal syntax network showed that the processing of sentences that contained the less anticipated syntactic structure showed early increased feedforward information flow in 0-100 ms, followed by increased recurrent connectivity between LIFG and LpMTG from the 200-500 ms from the verb onset. Altogether the three experiments reveal novel insights into transient cognitive networks recruited incrementally over time both in the absence of and with context, as the speech unfolds, and how the activation of these networks are modulated by contextual syntactic and semantic constraints. Further I provide neural evidence that contextual constraints serve to facilitate speech comprehension, and how the speech networks recover from failed anticipations.
Semantics, Constraint, MEG, network, speech, predictive processing
Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Turkish Petrol Foundation
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.17159
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