Infants show impressive speech decoding abilities and detect acoustic regularities that highlight the syntactic relations of a language, often coded via non-adjacent dependencies. It has been claimed that infants learn NADs implicitly and associatively through passive listening and that there is a shift from effortless associative learning to a more controlled learning of NADs after the age of 2 years, potentially driven by the maturation of the prefrontal cortex. To investigate if older children are able to learn NADs, Lammertink et (...) al. recently developed a word-monitoring serial reaction time task and could show that 6–11-year-old children learned the NADs, as their reaction times increased then they were presented with violated NADs. In the current study we adapted their experimental paradigm and tested NAD learning in a younger group of 52 children between the age of 4–8 years in a remote, web-based, game-like setting. Children were exposed to Italian phrases containing NADs and had to monitor the occurrence of a target syllable, which was the second element of the NAD. After exposure, children did a “Stem Completion” task in which they were presented with the first element of the NAD and had to choose the second element of the NAD to complete the stimuli. Our findings show that, despite large variability in the data, children aged 4–8 years are sensitive to NADs; they show the expected differences in r RTs in the SRT task and could transfer the NAD-rule in the Stem Completion task. We discuss these results with respect to the development of NAD dependency learning in childhood and the practical impact and limitations of collecting these data in a web-based setting. (shrink)
The signal functions of infant crying cannot be understood properly without due attention to their ontogenetic development. Based on our own research on the development of infant cries, we argue that the controversies in cry literature will not be solved by static models, but that progress will made only when considering ontogenetic changes in interpreting cry data.
Both autonomy and local specificity are compatible with observed interconnectivity at the cell level when considering two different levels: cell assemblies and brain systems. Early syntactic structuring processes in particular are likely to representan autonomous module in the language/brain system.
The notion that the working-memory system is not to be located in the prefrontal cortex, but rather constituted by the interplay between temporal and frontal areas, is of some attraction. However, at least for the domain of sentence comprehension, this perspective is promoted on the basis of sparse data. For this domain, the authors not only missed out on the chance to systematically integrate event-related brain potential (ERP) and neuroimaging data when interpreting their own findings on semantic aspects of working (...) memory, but also neglected syntactic aspects of working memory and computation altogether. (shrink)
Both linguistic and empirical evidence fail to support Grodzinsky's account of Broca's aphasics' comprehension problems. We address concerns regarding Grodzinsky's referring to the internal subject hypothesis, the importance of case information in thematic role assignment, the processing of passives, and the adequacy of Grodzinsky's linear strategy.
We criticize the lack of neuroanatomical precision in the Grodzinsky target article. We propose a more precise neuroanatomical characterization of syntactic processing and suggest that syntactic procedures are supported by the left frontal operculum in addition to the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus, which appears to be associated with syntactic knowledge representation.