Speaking in the brain

Thursday 1 June 2023, 10:30 am
PhD student
L. Giglio MSc.
prof. dr. P. Hagoort
dr. M. Ostarek, dr. K.M. Weber

The neural correlates of language processing have been mostly studied from a perceptive point of view (i.e. while listening or reading). Studies with speaking are instead rarer, because fMRI is very sensitive to movement in the scanner, such as the movement of the jaw elicited by speaking. In addition, it is harder to run experiments where participants speak, because it is a challenge to have experimental control over what participants will say. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to focus on brain activity during language production, and to understand to what extent what we learnt about language comprehension can be extended to language production. This thesis presents four studies that focus on different aspects of sentence production and comprehension with different tasks. Three chapters focus on brain activity and the connectivity between brain regions during syntactic processing, using both a task design and a naturalistic paradigm. One chapter focuses on the neural responses to compositional processing during sentence production. The results suggest that there are some differences in the brain responses to production and comprehension, both spatially and in the timing of responses, but overall it appears that the same brain regions are used for linguistic processing during speaking and listening. 

Laura Giglio was born in Ivrea, a small town in the north of Italy, in 1993. After high school, she moved to Glasgow (United Kingdom), where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Glasgow in 2016. After that, she moved to Nijmegen in the Netherlands, where she completed her Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University in 2018. For her Master’s thesis, she worked on the relationship between predictability in language and memory. In September 2018, she started her PhD in the Neurobiology of Language Department of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in affiliation with the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. Under the supervision of Peter Hagoort, Kirsten Weber and Markus Ostarek, and in close collaboration with Daniel Sharoh, she investigated the brain networks for language production and comprehension. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the same lab.