The role of Broca’s area in regular past-tense morphology: an event-related potential study

Justus, Timothy, Larsen, Jary, Yang, Jennifer, De Mornay Davies, Paul ORCID logoORCID:, Dronkers, Nina and Swick, Diane (2011) The role of Broca’s area in regular past-tense morphology: an event-related potential study. Neuropsychologia, 49 . pp. 1-18. ISSN 0028-3932 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.10.027)


It has been suggested that damage to anterior regions of the left hemisphere results in a dissociation
in the perception and lexical activation of past-tense forms. Specifically, in a lexical-decision task in
which past-tense primes immediately precede present-tense targets, such patients demonstrate significant
priming for irregular verbs (spoke–speak), but, unlike control participants, fail to do so for regular
verbs (looked–look). Here, this behavioral dissociation was first confirmed in a group of eleven patients
with damage to the pars opercularis (BA 44) and pars triangularis (BA 45) of the left inferior frontal gyrus
(i.e., Broca’s area). Two conditions containing word-onset orthographic–phonological overlap (bead–bee,
barge–bar) demonstrated that the disrupted regular-verb priming was accompanied by, and covaried
with, disrupted ortho-phonological priming, regardless of whether prime stimuli contained the regular
inflectional rhyme pattern. Further, the dissociation between impaired regular-verb and preserved
irregular-verb priming was shown to be continuous rather than categorical; priming for weak-irregular
verbs (spent–spend) was intermediate in size between that of regular verbs and strong verbs. Such continuous
dissociations grounded in ortho-phonological relationships between present- and past-tense forms
are predicted by single-system, connectionist approaches to inflectional morphology and not predicted
by current dual-system, rule-based models. Event-related potential data demonstrated that N400 priming
effects were intact for both regular and irregular verbs, suggesting that the absence of significant
regular-verb priming in the response time data did not result from a disruption of lexical access, and
may have stemmed instead from post-lexical events such as covert articulation, segmentation strategies,
and/or cognitive control.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Language, Learning and Cognition group
Item ID: 7035
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Depositing User: Paul De Mornay davies
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2014 12:21
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2019 16:34

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