15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

An fMRI Study of the Silent Production of Agent Deixis via Prosody or Syntax

Hélène Loevenbruck (1), Monica Baciu (2), Christoph Segebarth (3)

(1) ICP-CNRS, France
(2) LPNC-CNRS, France
(3) Unité Mixte INSERM/UJF 594, France

Deixis, or verbal pointing, plays a crucial role in language acquisition and speech communication. The aim of this fMRI study is to determine the neural correlates of the production of utterances involving agent deixis through prosody, syntax, or both. Sixteen subjects were examined. A common pattern of activation was found for the three deixis conditions including the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG), the left insula and the bilateral premotor (BA 6) cortex. Prosodic deixis additionally activated the left anterior cingulate gyrus (BA 24, 32), the left supramarginal gyrus (LSMG, BA 40) and Wernicke's area (BA 22). Our results suggest that the LIFG is involved in agent deixis, and that the LSMG and Wernicke's area are required in prosody-driven deixis only. These findings are consistent with observations on temporo-parieto-frontal coupling in auditory/visual-motor integration. Once grammaticalized, deixis would be handled solely by the LIFG, without the LSMG and Wernicke's area.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Loevenbruck, Hélène / Baciu, Monica / Segebarth, Christoph (2003): "An fMRI study of the silent production of agent deixis via prosody or syntax", In ICPhS-15, 1635-1638.