Meta-analyzing left hemisphere language areas: Phonology, semantics, and sentence processing

M. Vigneau, V. Beaucousin, P.Y. Hervé, H. Duffau, F. Crivello, O. Houdé, B. Mazoyer, N. Tzourio-Mazoyer
NeuroImage. 2006-05-01; 30(4): 1414-1432
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.11.002

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1. Neuroimage. 2006 May 1;30(4):1414-32. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Meta-analyzing left hemisphere language areas: phonology, semantics, and sentence

Vigneau M(1), Beaucousin V, Hervé PY, Duffau H, Crivello F, Houdé O, Mazoyer B,
Tzourio-Mazoyer N.

Author information:
(1)Groupe d’Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle, UMR 6194, CNRS CEA Caen and Paris 5
Universities, GIP Cyceron, boulevard Henri Becquerel, BP 5229, 14074 Caen Cedex,

The advent of functional neuroimaging has allowed tremendous advances in our
understanding of brain-language relationships, in addition to generating
substantial empirical data on this subject in the form of thousands of activation
peak coordinates reported in a decade of language studies. We performed a
large-scale meta-analysis of this literature, aimed at defining the composition
of the phonological, semantic, and sentence processing networks in the frontal,
temporal, and inferior parietal regions of the left cerebral hemisphere. For each
of these language components, activation peaks issued from relevant
component-specific contrasts were submitted to a spatial clustering algorithm,
which gathered activation peaks on the basis of their relative distance in the
MNI space. From a sample of 730 activation peaks extracted from 129 scientific
reports selected among 260, we isolated 30 activation clusters, defining the
functional fields constituting three distributed networks of frontal and temporal
areas and revealing the functional organization of the left hemisphere for
language. The functional role of each activation cluster is discussed based on
the nature of the tasks in which it was involved. This meta-analysis sheds light
on several contemporary issues, notably on the fine-scale functional architecture
of the inferior frontal gyrus for phonological and semantic processing, the
evidence for an elementary audio-motor loop involved in both comprehension and
production of syllables including the primary auditory areas and the motor mouth
area, evidence of areas of overlap between phonological and semantic processing,
in particular at the location of the selective human voice area that was the seat
of partial overlap of the three language components, the evidence of a cortical
area in the pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus dedicated to syntactic
processing and in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus a region
selectively activated by sentence and text processing, and the hypothesis that
different working memory perception-actions loops are identifiable for the
different language components. These results argue for large-scale architecture
networks rather than modular organization of language in the left hemisphere.

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.11.002
PMID: 16413796 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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