Negation in the brain

Modulating action representations

Marco Tettamanti, Rosa Manenti, Pasquale A. Della Rosa, Andrea Falini, Daniela Perani, Stefano F. Cappa, Andrea Moro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

103 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sentential negation is a universal syntactic feature of human languages that reverses the truth value expressed by a sentence. An intriguing question concerns what brain mechanisms underlie our ability to represent and understand the meaning of negative sentences. We approach this issue by investigating action-related language processing and the associated neural representations. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we measured brain activity in 18 healthy subjects during passive listening of sentences characterized by a factorial combination of polarity (affirmative vs. negative) and concreteness (action-related vs. abstract). Negation deactivated cortical areas and the left pallidum. Compared to abstract sentences, action-related sentences activated the left-hemispheric action-representation system. Crucially, the polarity by concreteness interactions showed that the activity within the action-representation system was specifically reduced for negative action-related vs. affirmative action-related sentences (compared to abstract sentences). Accordingly, functional integration within this system as measured by Dynamic Causal Modeling was specifically weaker for negative action-related than for affirmative action-related sentences. This modulation of action representations indicates that sentential negation transiently reduces the access to mental representations of the negated information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-367
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2008

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Language
Systems Integration
Globus Pallidus
Aptitude
Brain
Healthy Volunteers
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology

Cite this

Negation in the brain : Modulating action representations. / Tettamanti, Marco; Manenti, Rosa; Della Rosa, Pasquale A.; Falini, Andrea; Perani, Daniela; Cappa, Stefano F.; Moro, Andrea.

In: NeuroImage, Vol. 43, No. 2, 01.11.2008, p. 358-367.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tettamanti, Marco ; Manenti, Rosa ; Della Rosa, Pasquale A. ; Falini, Andrea ; Perani, Daniela ; Cappa, Stefano F. ; Moro, Andrea. / Negation in the brain : Modulating action representations. In: NeuroImage. 2008 ; Vol. 43, No. 2. pp. 358-367.
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