Grammatical gender in the brain: Evidence from an fMRI study on Italian

Roberto Padovani, Giovanna Calandra-Buonaura, Cristina Cacciari, Francesca Benuzzi, Paolo Nichelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The grammatical gender of a word is a lexical-syntactic property determining agreement among different sentence parts. Recent fMRI investigations identified the areas involved in the retrieval of grammatical gender near the left Broca's area providing further evidence to confirm the preeminent syntactic role of this area. However, these studies employed categorical designs based on the controversial methodology of the cognitive subtraction of neural activations related to different tasks. In the present study we identified the neural substrates of grammatical gender assignment using an fMRI parametric study. Participants decided the grammatical gender of visually presented Italian words whose gender-to-ending regularity varied. The results showed activation in left and right fronto-temporal areas suggesting an interplay of both hemispheres in the processing of grammatical gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2005


  • Broca's area
  • Gender decision task
  • Neural correlates
  • Syntax
  • Visual word processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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