Brain Images Recorded in the Neurocognition of Language Lab | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Brain Images Recorded in the Neurocognition of Language Lab

Brain images recorded by Karen Froud, Associate Professor of Speech and Language Pathology, and her students. Explanations of images are provided by Dr. Froud.

(Click on image for enlarged view)

1. A rendering of scalp-recorded EEG, taken while the subject was completing a visual processing task; superimposed on a 3-D brain model.

2. A magnetoencephalography recording of the brain's response to auditory word processing.

3. Another magnetoencephalography recording of the brain's response to auditory word processing, but in the brain of an adult with schizophrenia (so it looks very different).

4. Brain areas active during a semantic processing task in which several neurotypical adults were shown words and asked to identify which were real words from the English language and which were not. Brain activity was measured using fMRI, and the pictures reflect group averages.  

Below is a rendering of scalp-recorded EEG in a grammaticality processing task. The circle on the left is the map of activation recorded when this individual read grammatical sentences, and on the right we see the activation associated with ungrammatical sentences. The larger blue area on the right-hand map indicates a greater ELAN response to ungrammatical than to grammatical sentences. (ELAN stands for Early Left Anterior Negativity - a brain component that indexes early, automatic sentence parsing; the brain can tell whether a sentence is ungrammatical much earlier than we are able to consciously process the information contained in a sentence). In this experiment we were contrasting the brain responses of native speakers of Hungarian to those of native speakers of Chinese, to see whether the native Hungarian speakers would process morphological violations in English in the same way as each other (because Hungarian has morphology a lot like English, whereas Chinese does not). We found very different brain responses from the Chinese speakers.

A former students working with the Neuroscan EEG system that we borrowed a couple of years back so that we could provide EEG training for doctors at the pediatric hospital in Phnom Penh. A system had been donated to the hospital, but no one there had any expertise in its operation, so it was sitting unused. Neuroscan lent us their system for a few weeks so that we could provide some direct assistance.

The brain response of native speakers of Chinese to grammatical and ungrammatical English sentences. The response is characterized by a greater LAN response to ungrammaticality. LAN stands for Left Anterior negativity; it happens much later in the processing stream than the ELAN, and its presence in the Chinese speakers suggests that their processing of the same kinds of grammaticality violations was not as automatic and rapid as for Hungarian speakers.

Published Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011


More Stories