ROBERTSON, D. A., GERNSBACHER, M. A., GUIDOTTI, S. J., ROBERTSON, R. W. R., IRWIN, W., MOCK, B. J., & CAMPANA, M. E. (2000). Functional neuroanatomy of the cognitive process of mapping during discourse comprehension. Psychological Science, 11, 255-260.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain regions involved in the process of mapping coherent discourse onto a developing mental representation. We manipulated discourse coherence by presenting sentences with definite articles (which lead to more coherent discourse) or indefinite articles (which lead to less coherent discourse). Comprehending connected discourse, compared with reading unrelated sentences, produced more neural activity in the right than left hemisphere of the frontal lobe. Thus, the right hemisphere of the frontal lobe is involved in some of the processes underlying mapping. In contrast, left-hemisphere structures were associated with lower-level processes in reading (such as word recognition and syntactic processing). Our results demonstrate the utility of using fMRI to investigate the neural substrates of higherlevel cognitive processes such as discourse comprehension.