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Linguistic Sequencing in the Brain and Its Relationship with Familial Sinistrality--- An Event-Related Brain Potential Study
|Abstract:||「排序」(sequencing)在語言各個層面（如構詞、句法）隨處可見，卻鮮少有研究針對此特性來探 討。主持人在2007 年的博士論文裡，以功能性磁振造影(fMRI)研究句法與語意/概念的排序歷程，結 果發現這兩種排序在大腦激發相同的網路。然而，雖然可以藉由fMRI 資料中同時激發的腦區來推測 這兩種排序的歷程極為相似，但礙於fMRI 時間解析度所限，並非能夠完全肯定。因此為了推進此研 究發現，本計畫改採事件相關腦電位 (event-related brain potentials, ERPs)，希望能進一步釐清這兩種 排序是否為同一歷程或至少有部分歷程是相同的問題。如果研究結果顯示這兩種表面看似不同的歷 程，實則有極為類似的部分，則這相似的成分可能就是句法與語意系統所共有的「語言階層結構組合」 (hierarchical structure building)。 除了排序，「家族性左利」(familial sinistrality/left-handedness)亦是本計畫所要探討的主題。心理 語言學研究已多次發現右利的受試者會因其是否有家族性左利，而在語言理解上呈現句法或語意的偏 好(Bever et al., 1989)。由於絕大部分的語言實驗都是以受試者本身的右利(right-handedness)為主，而未 追蹤其家族資料，這很可能是造成許多研究有類似實驗設計卻有不同結果的潛在原因。因此，本研究 加入此因子，除了希望瞭解家族性左利是否會影響語言排序的型態之外，也希望研究結果能提醒語言 學者在未來選取受試者時多一層考慮。|
The “sequencing” function is ubiquitous in all aspects of language (e.g. morphology, syntax), but scarce research has been done on this matter. The principle investigator (PI) used the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique to study syntactic and conceptual sequencing in her PhD dissertation in 2007, and found that both syntactic and conceptual sequencing activated the same network in the brain. Although it might be safe to conclude that these two types of sequencing were similar, the conclusion was never decisive due to the limited temporal resolution inherent in fMRI, which made the fine-grained differentiation of these two processes difficult. Based on the fMRI result and to further the understanding of sequencing, this proposal intends to use the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) technique. By taking advantage of the excellent temporal resolution of ERPs, the PI hopes to clarify whether these two linguistic sequencing processes are essentially the same or at least share their roots to some degree. If the result reveals that these two seemingly different processes are actually not that different, then the PI may have more confidence to conclude, as proposed in her dissertation, that this similarity may come from the hierarchical structure building process shared by both the syntactic and semantic/conceptual systems in language. In addition to sequencing, familial sinistrality (or left-handedness) is another issue that this study attempts to address. Some psycholinguistic experiments have found out that right-handed subjects show structural or semantic preference in sentence comprehension depending on whether they have at least one left-handed blood relative or not (Bever et al., 1989). The fact that many language experiments start with the same design but end up with totally different results may actually come from the potential confound that subjects’ handedness is purely determined by their own handedness, without their familial background being considered. Hence, to include this very subject factor, the PI hopes to find out whether familial left-handedness would impact the sequencing patterns in the brain, and also hopes that language researchers can take familial handedness into consideration when choosing their future subjects.
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