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Thinking of prepositions turns brain 'on' in different ways

rology," Kemmerer said. "A clinician could use information about how brain injuries in stroke patients affect specific speech components to develop therapies to help their patients."

The four patients in Kemmerer's study were used because of similar brain injuries, such as lesions from stroke, in the perisylvian region, which is responsible for language processing. Kemmerer found the stroke subjects who passed the language tests asking about prepositions relevant to time subsequently failed when these same words reflected spatial meanings. For example, the subjects were asked to choose the correct preposition for scenarios such as, "The baseball is 'on/in/against' the glove." Two subjects did not select "in" as the correct answer. However, they did select "in" as the correct preposition for "It happened 'through/on/in' 1859."

The other two subjects' test performances were the opposite.

Kemmerer's earlier research with Daniel Tranel, professor of neurology at Iowa's Carver College of Medicine, had confirmed that the left inferior prefrontal and left inferior parietal regions of the brain play a crucial role in processing spatial prepositions. The previous research with Tranel was published in October's Cognitive Neuropsychology.

This work, which has explored how different types of words are retrieved by different parts of the brain, is part of a larger-scale investigation being carried out by Tranel and his colleagues at the University of Iowa.

"For example, we have identified the anterior left temporal lobe as being critical for proper nouns, whereas the left inferior prefrontal/premotor region is important for verbs," Tranel said. "The collaboration between myself, a neuropsychologist, and professor Kemmerer, a neurolinguist, has yielded important breakthroughs in understanding how the brain operates language, due to the unique perspectives that these researchers bring to a common research
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Contact: Amy Patterson-Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
25-Jan-2005


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