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Poster B30, Thursday, August 16, 3:05 – 4:50 pm, Room 2000AB

Neural correlates of selection and inhibition of semantic features: an fMRI study of Chinese classifiers

Chu-Hsuan Kuo1, Min Liu1, Hsuan-Chih Chen2, Tai-Li Chou1;1National Taiwan University, 2Chinese University of Hong Kong

In Chinese, classifiers have varying degrees of overlapping semantic features with their corresponding nouns. Count classifiers, which individualize nouns, are semantically distinct from mass classifiers, which are general measurements of nouns. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study aimed to clarify the neural correlates of processing erroneous count versus mass classifier use during reading comprehension. Twenty-nine native Chinese speakers made semantic congruency judgments on congruent, intra-classifier (IA) violated, and inter-classifier (IE) violated phrases. The IA and IE violations involved changing a correct classifier to an incorrect classifier of the same category (e.g. count-count or mass-mass) and of a different category (e.g. count-mass or mass-count), respectively. Functional connectivity as revealed by psychophysiological interactions analysis revealed whether there would be condition-specific connectivity between brain regions during semantic judgments. The IE violation condition produced more activation in the bilateral inferior frontal gyri (IFG) when contrasted with the IA violation condition, suggesting that searching for overlapping features may result in increased demand on semantic processing when dealing with between-category classifier errors. The bilateral IFG were functionally connected to the medial frontal gyrus, suggesting a certain degree of inhibition and interference resolution of irrelevant semantic features between an incorrect classifier and noun. The right IFG was also functionally connected to the left middle temporal gyrus (MTG), suggesting a need for lexical retrieval and selection of semantic features. Overall, these results suggest that the bilateral IFG functions as part of a larger semantic network involving the medial frontal gyrus and the left MTG during the processing of Chinese classifiers.

Topic Area: Meaning: Lexical Semantics