, Volume 213, Issue 4-5, pp 441-456,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Jul 2009

Left cytoarchitectonic area 44 supports selection in the mental lexicon during language production


This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated the role of Broca’s region for selecting semantic, syntactic, and phonological information during picture naming. According to psycholinguistic theory, selection is reflected in speech latency differences, e.g. during priming. Here, homogenous (priming) blocks in which German picture names had the same semantic category, syntactic gender, or initial phoneme alternated with heterogeneous (non-priming) blocks. Speech latencies revealed a negative priming effect. Speech latencies were used as regressors for the fMRI data in order to tap selection processes. In Broca’s region (BA 44), among others, fMRI data showed repetition priming, which was positive for semantic and syntactic but negative for phonological selection. The different effects in area 44 are discussed in terms of psycholinguistic theory. Overall, the activation pattern is in line with the hypothesis that area 44 generally supports selection processes during noun production at several levels of the mental lexicon.