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Poster C64, Thursday, November 9, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Effects of Frequency and Construction on the Interpretation of Chinese Quadrisyllabic Idiomatic Expressions: An fMRI Study

Te-Hsin Liu1, I-Wen Su1, Chia-Ho Lai1, Shu-Kai Hsieh1, Chia-Lin Lee1, Chia-Rung Lu1, I-Ni Tsai1, Tai-Li Chou1;1National Taiwan University

Chinese quadrisyllabic idiomatic expressions (henceforth QIEs) are highly productive in the modern language. They can be used to understand the cognitive processing of structure and meaning during reading comprehension, for example, the patterning of [qian-A-wan-B] “1k-A-10k-B” (e.g., one-thousand army ten-thousand horse). However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of QIEs during reading comprehension. In the present study, we aimed to study the neural correlates of frequency effect (high, low) on idiomatic constructions and the degree of constructions (idiomatic, quasi-idiomatic, pseudo- idiomatic). Twenty Mandarin native speakers were recruited to participate in an fMRI experiment, where three types of idioms were designed: 48 [qian-A-wan-B] “1k-A-10k-B” idiomatic constructions divided on the basis of 24 high and 24 low frequency OIEs. (2) 16 quasi-idiomatic constructions non-existent in the modern language but obeying the morphological rule of Chinese idioms. (3) 16 pseudo [qian-A-wan-B] “1k-A-10k-B” trials violating the semantic and morphological restriction of the construction. Participants were instructed to make a semantic congruency judgment during the presentation of a QIE. Our behavioral results showed that native speakers processed low frequency QIEs faster than high frequency ones, implying semantic satiation to impede the interpretation of high frequency idioms. Our fMRI results also demonstrated that the contrast of high versus low frequency QIEs showed greater activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, suggesting inhibitory control to suppress lasting semantic interference with high frequency QIEs. Moreover, the contrast of idiomatic versus pseudo-idiomatic constructions showed greater activation in the left anterior temporal cortex, suggesting the integration of individual syllables to form larger syntactic structures.

Topic Area: Multilingualism

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