Publication Date



Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


Reading a sentence entails integrating the meanings of individual words to infer more complex, higher-order meaning. This highly rapid and complex human behavior is known to engage the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) in the language-dominant hemisphere, yet whether there are distinct contributions of these regions to sentence reading is still unclear. To probe these neural spatiotemporal dynamics, we used direct intracranial recordings to measure neural activity while reading sentences, meaning-deficient Jabberwocky sentences, and lists of words or pseudowords. We isolated two functionally and spatiotemporally distinct frontotemporal networks, each sensitive to distinct aspects of word and sentence composition. The first distributed network engages the IFG and MTG, with IFG activity preceding MTG. Activity in this network ramps up over the duration of a sentence and is reduced or absent during Jabberwocky and word lists, implying its role in the derivation of sentence-level meaning. The second network engages the superior temporal gyrus and the IFG, with temporal responses leading those in frontal lobe, and shows greater activation for each word in a list than those in sentences, suggesting that sentential context enables greater efficiency in the lexical and/or phonological processing of individual words. These adjacent, yet spatiotemporally dissociable neural mechanisms for word- and sentence-level processes shed light on the richly layered semantic networks that enable us to fluently read. These results imply distributed, dynamic computation across the frontotemporal language network rather than a clear dichotomy between the contributions of frontal and temporal structures.


Humans, Brain Mapping, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Language, Linguistics, Frontal Lobe, Semantics


PMID: 37068244

Included in

Neurosurgery Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.