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The role of left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) in canonical sentence comprehension is controversial. Many studies have found involvement of LIFC in sentence production or complex sentence comprehension, but negative or mixed results are often found in comprehension of simple or canonical sentences. We used voxel-, region-, and connectivity-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM, RLSM, CLSM) in left-hemisphere chronic stroke survivors to investigate canonical sentence comprehension while controlling for lexical-semantic, executive, and phonological processes. We investigated how damage and disrupted white matter connectivity of LIFC and two other language-related regions, the left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) and posterior temporal-inferior parietal area (LpT-iP), affected sentence comprehension. VLSM and RLSM revealed that LIFC damage was not associated with canonical sentence comprehension measured by a sensibility judgment task. LIFC damage was associated instead with impairments in a lexical semantic similarity judgment task with high semantic/executive demands. Damage to the LpT-iP, specifically posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG), predicted worse sentence comprehension after controlling for visual lexical access, semantic knowledge, and auditory-verbal short-term memory (STM), but not auditory single-word comprehension, suggesting pMTG is vital for auditory language comprehension. CLSM revealed that disruption of left-lateralized white-matter connections from LIFC to LATL and LpT-iP was associated with worse sentence comprehension, controlling for performance in tasks related to lexical access, auditory word comprehension, and auditory-verbal STM. However, the LIFC connections were accounted for by the lexical semantic similarity judgment task, which had high semantic/executive demands. This suggests that LIFC connectivity is relevant to canonical sentence comprehension when task-related semantic/executive demands are high.

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© 2022 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license

APA Citation

Riccardi, N., Rorden, C., Fridriksson, J., & Desai, R. H. (2022). Canonical sentence processing and the inferior frontal cortex: Is there a connection? Neurobiology of Language, 3(2), 318-344.

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