Neural differences in the processing of true and false sentences: Insights into the nature of 'truth' in language comprehension

J. Frederico Marques, Nicola Canessa, Stefano Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The inquiry on the nature of truth in language comprehension has a long history of opposite perspectives. These perspectives either consider that there are qualitative differences in the processing of true and false statements, or that these processes are fundamentally the same and only differ in quantitative terms. The present study evaluated the processing nature of true and false statements in terms of patterns of brain activity using event-related functional-Magnetic-Resonance-Imaging (fMRI). We show that when true and false concept-feature statements are controlled for relation strength/ambiguity, their processing is associated to qualitatively different processes. Verifying true statements activates the left inferior parietal cortex and the caudate nucleus, a neural correlate compatible with an extended search and matching process for particular stored information. In contrast, verifying false statements activates the fronto-polar cortex and is compatible with a reasoning process of finding and evaluating a contradiction between the sentence information and stored knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-768
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • Cognitive processes
  • fMRI
  • Language
  • Meaning
  • Semantic memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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